Wood barrel kits to age whiskey

cabaiguan juan

Well-Known Member
Anyone ever use one of those wood barrel kits to further age whiskey? Where do you find them and more importantly what whiskey works best with them? How does it work and how long do you age a whiskey to make it worthwhile? How may times can you reuse it and what are your thoughts on switching whiskeys or rums?
 

thinde

Lobstah; the other white meat!
The only time I age something is in a glass! But seriously it sounds like a fun experiment with an inexpensive scotch.
 

AVB

Jesus of Cool, I'm bad, I'm nationwide
It was a very long time ago that I did this like 25-30 years ago. Where I bought the 5 gallon cask is lost to the mists of time but I do know I used 10 handles of Ancient Age to fill it up. Ancient Age was already 4 years old and my goal was to do another 6 years in the small cask which I thought would be the equal of 20 years in a regular barrel. If wishes were horses......

After a year if sitting in my attic there was a noticeable amount of evaporation 5-7% based on the original fill level. Tasting definitely showed more charcoal which was expected because the barrel was bought with a heavy #5 char. Year 2 again had about a 7% loss and the color had darkened several shades. Tasted like crap. Very medicinal with an acerbic aftertaste. I decided that maybe the attic was getting too hot so I moved the keg to my detached garage. it still got hot but nowhere near as hot as the attic. Year 3 saw less angel's share and a loss of some of the medicinal taste plus an increase in sweetness. Progress ------ so I thought.
Year 4 continued the darkness trend and now the oak was starting to show up which was a nice counter to the maple sweetness that continued from the year before. It was better than what I started with but not as good as I would have hoped for at this point. I took a handle out for my Memorial Day picnic. Year 5 was exceptionally cold, we had a week when the temp didn't get above 10. Not unusual when I lived in Wisconsin but not the norm for southeastern PA. Can't say if that was a factor or the handle I had taken out (which dropped the volume to 70% or so of a full cask) but the results were bad. not as bad as year 3 but certainly a step backwards. There was a good alcohol burn and oak was far more upfront. I decided to take 2 more handles out to use as mixers in case things got even worse. That left the keg just under half full. Year 6 was an improvement over year 5 but not as good as year 4. I had a slight seepage and lost about a third of the remaining volume but what was left regained some of the balance between the oak and char, the burn had decreased and it looked like it had been in a cask for 20 years. I took a handle and a fifth to the Marine Corps Birthday cause I knew they would drink it just because :) And that was that.

If I had to do it over again I wouldn't have put the keg in the attic, I'd use a #4 char instead of the #5 (more is not always better) and I think I'd use rye because the spiciness of rye would mask some of the problems I had and if things went well, would accent the end result better.
 
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