Can Cheap Bourbon Be Made Better Using a Mini Oak Aging Barrel?
I occasionally check out the high priced bourbon selection at the liquor store, just for fun. I look at bottles that cost hundreds of dollars, wondering just how much better they taste. There may actually be a way for every day people to get a taste of high priced spirits at a fraction of the cost by using a mini oak aging barrel.
Why Do Aged Product Cost More?
One thing that contributes to the price of some alcoholic beverages is how long it is allowed to age. Many of the highest priced wines, whiskeys and tequilas have been aged in oak barrels for 10, 15, 20 years or longer. The aging process smooths the flavor and the oak barrel imparts its own taste.The longer it ages, the more pronounced the change. Also, the longer before the distiller reaps any revenue from the product.
How Does a Mini Oak Aging Barrel Work?
Once a product is removed from an aging barrel and bottled, the aging process stops. However, if the liquor is placed back into an oak barrel the aging process restarts. Because the barrel is smaller, a larger percentage of the liquid is in contact with the barrel walls accelerating the aging process. You can significantly alter the taste of your favorite liquor in a short amount of time.
How Do I Use a Mini Oak Aging Barrel?
Your mini oak barrel will come with instructions on how to prepare it for use. This process involves filling the barrel with warm water. It will initially leak from random places, but most commonly on the ends where metal bands hold it together. The barrel will soak up some of the water, expand, and seal itself. Once the barrel is sealed, which usually takes between a day and a week depending on the size of the barrel, the water can be emptied, and whatever you want to age can be poured in.
If the barrel doesn’t seal itself, or if it starts leaking again after pouring in your favorite liquor, rub some barrel wax (which is really just paraffin wax) on the seam that is leaking. The wax will seal the leak but not alter the taste of what’s in the barrel.
What Can I Put Into a Mini Oak Aging Barrel?
You can fill a mini oak aging barrel with anything you’d like to take on some flavor from the charred inside of the barrel. Common things used include wine, whiskey, and tequila.
Where Can I Get One?
I purchased mine from Freedom Oak Barrels, but several retailers can be found online. Just type “mini oak barrel” into your favorite web browser. Many of the retailers also allow customization of the barrel head with your name and/or the name of your “distillery.”
How Much Does It Cost?
Barrels come in a variety of sizes ranging from one to twenty liters in size, costing between $50 and several hundred.
Does It Really Work?
We’re going to find out together. I bought a one liter barrel for myself and filled it with bourbon. It’s currently been aging just over two weeks. I plan to let it age for a total of 4 weeks, then compare a sample to one straight from the bottle. Then each week after that I’ll do another comparison. Check back in a couple weeks and we’ll find out together whether aging bourbon in a mini oak aging barrel improves the quality. If it does, I may never visit the high priced liquor section again. If nothing else, it will be a fun adventure!
How about you, Clever Friends, have you ever used a mini oak aging barrel? If so, what were the results?
Check more clever articles:
- Beer vs Liquor: An Alcohol Price Per Ounce Comparison
- How Costco Liquor Prices Compare to Sam’s Club
- Is Costco Beer Cheaper?
- Save Big At Costco Liquor Stores
- Which is Cheaper: Keg or Canned Beer?