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bourbon4all

Small barrel aging for junk whiskey?

I have a handle of Jim beam white among others that i think need some help and was curious how many people have purchased and used the small barrels available. More importantly how did it turn out and what tips advice do you have? 

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A small barrel does not give the same results as a full size barrel.  Save your money and buy some quality whiskey, or mix up some cocktails with the well liquor. :)

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I wouldn't call it "junk", but I had 2 bottles of Stagg Jr. Batch 1 which I didn't like at all.  Bought a 2L barrel and dumped both of them in there, and filled the remainder with Eagle Rare 10.  Let it age for 4-6 weeks (can't remember exactly), while topping off with the leftover ER10.  Ended up with 1.5L of some really tasty stuff....some of my favorite to drink actually.  Barrel sucked out (or masked with more char) the hotness/youngness of the whiskey, though I'm sure some of the dilution of proof via ER10 also helped.

 

So:

1) First batch in your barrel will take the most char/color from the barrel, so keep checking weekly how it's progressing for you.  JB white might benefit from a few weeks, but depending on your tastes, maybe it'll be too oaky.

2) Don't be afraid to up the proof with something younger.  The Stagg was 133 pf, but your JB is 80.  That amount of alcohol might not help with aging as quickly.  For example, in my 2nd attempt, I put vodka in the barrel, and I top off with some 151 proof clear booze.  The extra alcohol helps to extract flavor from the barrel, and it brings up the proof to a more "original barreling" proof of 125ish.  I had the luck of there probably being a good amount of bourbon-y goodness from the Stagg seeped into the wood already, so it helped offset some of the lack of age in the clear liquor.

3) A good chunk of the "aging" comes from movement into/out of the wood pores.  You can accelerate by alternatively sticking in the fridge overnight and out on the counter during the day vs. let it just rest at room temp all the time.

Edited by apspeedbump

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23 minutes ago, PaulO said:

A small barrel does not give the same results as a full size barrel.  Save your money and buy some quality whiskey, or mix up some cocktails with the well liquor. :)

I haven't cared for cocktails ever since I made the switch to bourbon/rye/whiskey... and I am trying to save my money by turning lead into gold:P

 

Edited by bourbon4all

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These small barrel kits are a curious, emerging DIY product.  The marketing promises that you can:

 

  • Age whiskey and other spirits, turning bargain basement booze into top shelf liquor in as little as three weeks.
  • Flavor and age neutral spirits to create your own whiskey, rum, brandy or other liquor from scratch.

Wow, maybe someone should let the distilleries know, they are wasting years in barrels, when you can mature whiskey in weeks?

 

Also, since you can now turn Benchmark into a top shelfer in weeks, maybe BT will drop the price on Blantons? 

 

Lets see, 3 fifths of Benchmark is about $30, one small 2L barrel is $150, so that nets out to $60 per fifth of home made Blanton's.  I guess that doesn't work out does it?  ;)

 

Edited by musekatcher

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I received one of those barrels as a gift last year.  I sealed it with water and am currently seasoning it with sherry.  Dunno what I'm going to do with it after that.  Right now my two favorite ideas are barrel aged cocktails and sherry finishing something heavily peated.  Most bourbon I own is pretty good already, so I am not sure I need to futz with it.

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Just my $.02 worth; but I always figured; "garbage in / garbage out"... especially when the stuff is going "in" to a small barrel. 

Very little that ever went into a 'small barrel' ever came out drinkable, let alone 'good'.  

The few exceptions of which I'm aware had rather good whiskey going in to start with.     Some chance of a good result may be obtained this way; but starting with poor whiskey, I assume will not likely end well.

This is, based upon very little personal experience; but a good deal of comment from others who have had such.    Just one man's opinion......

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54 minutes ago, Richnimrod said:

Just my $.02 worth; but I always figured; "garbage in / garbage out"...

I agree with this.  It's like anything else, the quality of the ingredients will affect the end result.  

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I had two small barrels, 1L and 2L.  The first use of each saw the sneaky angels stealing their share.  After that, the color change is much more subtle.  It was fun to play with, but did not "make" better tasting whiskey to me.  

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I haven't done an experiment such as this (yet), but I think that barrel entry proof is one important variable to consider. Some compounds extracted from the wood during aging are alcohol soluble while others are water soluble, including many of the "sugars" (source: http://whiskyscience.blogspot.fi/2016/12/sugars-in-whisky.html). This is one of the main reasons why lower barrel-entry proof will yield a different aged product than a high barrel-entry proof.

 

I'm not necessarily advocating for high or low starting proof, just saying that it may be beneficial to consider the characteristics of the spirit you're putting into the barrel and determine whether or not the barrel may lend to the spirit the qualities you're looking for, given the ABV range of that spirit during the aging in the smaller barrel.

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1 hour ago, Kpiz said:

I haven't done an experiment such as this (yet), but I think that barrel entry proof is one important variable to consider. Some compounds extracted from the wood during aging are alcohol soluble while others are water soluble, including many of the "sugars" (source: http://whiskyscience.blogspot.fi/2016/12/sugars-in-whisky.html). This is one of the main reasons why lower barrel-entry proof will yield a different aged product than a high barrel-entry proof.

 

I'm not necessarily advocating for high or low starting proof, just saying that it may be beneficial to consider the characteristics of the spirit you're putting into the barrel and determine whether or not the barrel may lend to the spirit the qualities you're looking for, given the ABV range of that spirit during the aging in the smaller barrel.

squire has always said that lower entry proof results in tastier bourbon at an earlier age due those water soluble sugars you mention. 

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squire has always said that lower entry proof results in tastier bourbon at an earlier age due those water soluble sugars you mention. 


Smart man. I wish I had Squire's comments indexed so I could just cite him.

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I was thinking like a three gallon barrel and leaving whatever goes in it for years but it doesn't look like anyone has had much success with this. In my mind what I call junk whiskey is typically just young. So I figured if it would just be sittting on my shelf for years why not in a barrel for years. wishful thinking I guess

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28 minutes ago, bourbon4all said:

I was thinking like a three gallon barrel and leaving whatever goes in it for years but it doesn't look like anyone has had much success with this. In my mind what I call junk whiskey is typically just young. So I figured if it would just be sittting on my shelf for years why not in a barrel for years. wishful thinking I guess

If you left in there for years that barrel would be damn near bone dry when you open it.

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A good experiment might be to take a smaller amount and rather than buying a barrel using the "whiskey oak" BBQ Chips in a Mason Jar, I've done this with Gin and clear Rums to interesting results. 

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57 minutes ago, kevinbrink said:

A good experiment might be to take a smaller amount and rather than buying a barrel using the "whiskey oak" BBQ Chips in a Mason Jar, I've done this with Gin and clear Rums to interesting results. 

Interesting idea. If one could calculate the ratio of barrel surface area to whiskey volume in the barrel, one could place a charred chip with the same ratio into the mason jar. I wonder how that might work?

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I can say this the first time I did it with Rum I didn't think about it enough and over did it, two days later it was opaque. I would say a little goes a long way, since the chips aren't uniform measuring them won't be particularly precise. 

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51 minutes ago, kevinbrink said:

I can say this the first time I did it with Rum I didn't think about it enough and over did it, two days later it was opaque. I would say a little goes a long way, since the chips aren't uniform measuring them won't be particularly precise. 

 

I've had some moderate success with adding wood chips to unaged spirit in a bottle as well. Definitely agree that it doesn't take many oak chips to have a big impact.

 

The good thing about oak chips is that you can adjust the surface area, as Steve said. The bad thing is that they don't quite have the same filtering/slow oxidation effects that a barrel has. As I understand it, this is one of the biggest hurdles for accelerated aging machines such as the THEA One.

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