All you need to know about our American Oak Barrels
Preparing Your Barrel:
Before using your barrel, make sure that the spigot is properly inserted if it hasn't been ,you can use a mallet or place a cloth over the spigot and gently hammer it in, but only for a wooden spigot.
Curing Your Barrel:
To start the curing process, rinse the barrel three or four times to remove any wood debris. After that, fill the barrel, cover the holes, shake it and empty it.
When curing the barrel, find a sink or tub that can hold the barrel as this process will make the barrel and its surroundings wet. Look for a tub that is big enough to hold the keg stand. Fill the barrel with hot water from the bung hole (no need to boil) on the first filling. For subsequent fillings, use room temperature water.
Keep an eye on any leaks as they should seal up as the wood swells. The time needed for this can vary from a few hours to several days (for larger barrels, it could take a week or more). Even if the barrel is not leaking, leave water in it for at least 4-5 days. This is because leaking is normal at this stage as the barrel is dry and new. Check the curing progress periodically and continue topping it off with water until any leaking stops.
To age your liquor, pour it into the barrel with any enhancers or flavors you wish to add. Wait until you reach the desired flavor, then pour the contents into a bottle. Keep the barrel away from direct sunlight exposure and store it in a cool, damp place, such as a wine cellar. This will prevent the exterior from drying out and minimise evaporation.
Important Tips :
If you're not using your barrel for aging liquor, fill it with water to prevent wood dehydration. If you're planning to store it with water for more than 2 weeks, use a campden tablet to avoid mold growth. Before pouring liquor, remove the bung to vent the barrel. If the hoops fall off, simply slide them back in place, as the barrel will tighten them as it swells during curing.
Leaks from the head or stave are normal during the barrel aging process, as authentic oak barrels don't have nails or glue to hold them together. To stop leaks, melt a small amount of bee wax in a spoon and pour it directly onto the affected area. Use your finger to push the wax into the leak until it stops.
All Barrel Packages come with a 100% pure bee wax container. Follow the instructions provided to apply it correctly. If you encounter any issues, please contact us at email@example.com.
Q: What are the barrels made from?
A: Our barrels are made from premium quality American White Oak. The staves are air dried for two years and all barrels have a medium char.
Q: Are glues or nails used to make the barrel?
A: No, our barrels are all hand crafted with no use of glues or nails.
Q: How should the barrel be stored?
A: Barrels are best stored in a cool damp environment such as a wine cellar. This will keep the exterior from drying out and minimize evaporation.
Q: How many times can I use my barrel?
A: With proper care, you can use your barrel for 8 to 10 years. Following the cleaning and re-charing instructions will insure a long life for your product and be sure to not let your barrel dry out.
Q: I left my barrel dry for an extended time. Now it leaks... what do I do?
A: In many cases just re-cure the barrel. If it continues leaking, submerge the barrel in water for a couple of days. After it's been submerged, dry the exterior with a towel and fill it with water to see if it continues to leak. If so, find the leak and apply barrel wax to the hole. If you can't stop the leaking, cut in half and use as a planter!
Q: The hoops are loose or have fallen off... What do I do?
A: Our barrels are handmade without the use of any nails. As the wood dries the barrel shrinks and hoops loosen. Hooping is fitted in location but is only stabilized after the curing process when the barrel swells into place due to the expansion of the wood. Simply hand force the hoop into its proper location and slightly tap the banding’s side with a blunt item around the entire circumference of the barrel until tight. Then proceed to the curing process.
Q: When I opened the box and pulled out the barrel, I hear something inside the barrel rattling...?
A: It is common for the barrel to have small pieces of wood inside. Your barrel is charred internally and can cause pieces from the inside to separate from the body. THIS IS GOOD NEWS! The more charred surface contact with the spirit, the faster it will age. Simply strain the spirit before drinking.
Q: How do I cure my barrel?
A: All barrels need to swell to ensure proper function. Use boiling or hot water and fill your barrel to the top through the bung hole. When doing this, place in an area that allows for seepage coming through the wood (i.e. kitchen sink, outside, tub etc…) Although there may be no leaks immediately, the wood does need to swell internally for a period of time before use, a minimum of 3-5 days is preferred. Curing the wood will minimize the absorption of precious spirit into the body of the barrel.
Q: My barrel is taking on a blackish color: A: This is referred to as “leaching”. All barrels can produce a discoloration during the curing process. As the water makes its way through the wood, it will push out coloration from anything in its way. This is perfectly normal and seen in all commercial barrels in the beer, wine and distilling world.
Q: What should I do if nothing comes out of my spigot when I turn it?
A: Remove the bung when dispensing to release pressure and allow for airflow.
Q: What should I do if there is little or no spirit after many months?
A: For smaller barrels, the aging process is accelerated, and most spirits are at their optimum result within 1 to 3 months. Taste periodically and remove the contents into a bottle with appropriate aging notes when accepted best to your pallet. If you have teenagers in your home, you may also want to investigate the “My Little Angels Share” option.
Q: How often should I clean my barrel?
A: For hard spirits such as whiskey, rum or tequila, clean the barrel after two or three batches (or every 1 to 2 years). For wine, cider, liquor or other low alcohol content spirits, clean after each batch.
Q: How do I clean my barrel?
A: 1) Dissolve the Barrel-Kleen into warm water. Fill the barrel with this cleaning solution and soak for 24 hours. Empty and rinse 3 times with hot water. 2) Dissolve the Neutralizing Acid into warm water. Fill the barrel with this neutralizing solution and soak for 15 minutes. Empty and rinse the barrel 3 times with hot water. 3) To re-char the barrel interior, drain the barrel for 3 hours. Place a butane torch in the bung and spigot hole and re-char the inside.
Q: How should I store my barrel?
A: To prevent the barrel from drying out and minimize the possibility of contamination, barrels should always be stored full with spirits or water with sterilizing solution. When storing the barrel, fill it with a mixture of sterilizing tablets and cool water and leave it in a cool, damp place until you are ready to use it again.
Q: How long should I age my spirits?
A: There is no formula for the perfect time to age your spirits. Age to taste! It is suggested to taste your spirits every week and once aged to YOUR taste, start drinking or move it to a glass bottle to stop the aging process.
Q: Do smaller barrels age the spirit faster than large barrels?
A: Yes, due to the greater surface or contact area ratio, small size barrels will age 5 to 10 times faster than your standard 55-gallon barrel. This means that one month in a small barrel will produce the equivalent aging to 1 to 1 1/2 years in a full-size barrel.
Important Tip: Leaving your barrel dry for more than two weeks can cause it to shrink, dry up, and develop permanent leaks. If you do not plan to use the barrel for more than two weeks (when it's new or between rackings), follow the steps below to seal it. Once the barrel has sealed, store it with ¼ to 1/3 water in it.
New Barrel Cleaning: Brand new oak barrels are highly sanitary because the wood is heated over direct fire to bend the staves and enhance the flavor. No need to sanitize your new barrel; rinse it with water to remove any loose bits of charred wood that may have come off during transit.
My Barrel is Leaking, What Should I Do? Authentic oak barrels do not have nails or glue holding them together, and they can leak from the head or stave. This is a normal part of the barrel aging process. To stop leaks, apply a small amount of bee wax to the leaking area. Melt a little bee wax in a spoon and pour it directly onto the affected area. Then, use your finger to push the wax into the leaking area until the leakage stops.
All Barrel Packages Include a 100% Pure Bee Wax Container. Follow the instructions above to apply it correctly.
Steps to Fix Leaks:
- Identify the leak's location. Look for visible cracks, gaps, or holes in the barrel's staves.
- Remove wine or spirit from the barrel. Empty the barrel and discard any spoiled liquid.
- Rinse the barrel thoroughly. Use hot water to rinse the inside of the barrel and remove any remaining wine or spirit.
- Soak the barrel in water. Fill the barrel with water and let it soak for at least 3 to 4 days. This will swell the wood and close any gaps or cracks that may be causing the leak.
- Check for leaks again. After soaking the barrel, empty the water and inspect it for remaining leaks.
- Apply barrel wax if there are any remaining leaks.
- Allow the wax to dry completely following the instructions before using the barrel again.
- Test the barrel. Fill it with water and let it sit for a few hours to test for any new leaks. If the barrel is leak-free, it's ready to be filled with wine or spirit again.
- Maintain the barrel. Regularly inspect and maintain the barrel to prevent future leaks. Store it in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or moisture.