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Oak Barrel Care

 

Barrel Cleaning

Instructions for cleaning an oak barrel with one of our Cleaning Kits:

Oak Barrel Care & Cleaning

1) Dissolve the Barrel-Kleen into 1 U.S. gallon of 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 1 gallon of 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.

4) When storing the barrel or prior to re-use, dissolve the 2 sterilizing tablets in 1 gallon of cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution. Swish around for a few minutes and rinse 3 times with hot water.

To prevent the barrel from drying out and minimize the possibility of contamination, barrels should always be stored full with spirits or sterilizing solution.

Curing Your Barrel

Instructions for initial use:

 

All barrels need to swell to ensure proper function. Use 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. The determining factor of completion is when you refill it daily with water that the same amount placed in the previous day should be is existent the next day.

 

Total absorption of the wood will prevent you minimizing precious spirit into the body of the barrel when initially in use.

 

DO NOT SUBMERGE YOUR BARREL INTO WATER!!!

 

First rinse the inside of the barrel by filling and emptying 2 or 3 times to remove any wood debris. Small wood chips are normal, feel free to leave them inside as they enhance the aging process. (Oak chips are a commonly-used method for aging alcohol.)

Prior to use, your barrel must be filled with water for approximately 3 to 5 days. This will allow the oak to expand and retain liquid. The barrel may leak until fully cured. After this initial curing period, place the barrel on the stand in a dry area. Liquid will continue to slowly drain through the wood for the following 3 to 7 days. Keep the barrel filled during this time. When the barrel stops draining, empty the contents and rinse again. You are now ready to fill with your spirits.

Filling with Spirits

When filling your barrel with spirits, fill the barrel completely removing all air. Place the cork in tightly. Air inside the barrel can spoil the aging process.

Reconditioning Your Barrel

In preperation for reusing your barrel after the initial use, the barrel may need to be reconditioned. This should allways be done when aging wine. Fill your barrel with a cleaning solution such as Soda ash or Barolkleen (454g of Barolkleen per 5 gallons of water) and let it soak in the barrel for 2 to 3 days. This solution will remove excessive tannins.

For additional info on cleaning your barrel see our Barrel Cleaning Kit.

Storage

Barrels should be stored in a cool place and away from sunlight. This will protect both the exterior of the barrel and the aging spirits inside. In time liquid will be absorbed by the barrel or evaporate, generally about 5% over 2 years, this is called the "Angels' Share". Dry climates or heated homes tend to cause more evaporation.

Maintaining your Barrel

Over time the exterior of your barrel will show wear. Lightly sand your barrel with a fine sandpaper. Wipe off any debris with a clean cloth, and apply a coat of water based varnish on the outside of the barrel.

Barrels left without liquid will dry quickly and no longer hold liquid without leaking. If this occurs, begin the curing / reconditioning process again.

Barrel FAQ

What are the barrels made from?
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.

How do I cure the barrel?
Barrels should be cured prior to use. Start by filling the barrel with boiling or hot water and leave it to soak for 3 to 5 days. This allows the barrel to swell tightly against the hoops and ensure that the barrel doesn't leak.

Are glues or nails used to make the barrel?
No, our barrels are all hand crafted with no use of glues or nails. 

How should the barrel be stored?
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 (Angels Share).

How many times can I use my barrel?
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.

I left my barrel dry for an extented time. Now it leaks... what do I do?
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!

How often do I clean my barrel?
When aging 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.

How do I store my barrel?
When storing the barrel fill the barrel with a mixture of sterilizing tablets and cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution and leave in a cool damp place until you are ready to use again.

How long do I age my spirits? 
There's no formula for the perfect time to age your spirits. Age to taste! We suggest you 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.

Do smaller barrels age the spirit faster than large barrels?
Yes... due to the greater surface or contact area ratio, small size barrels will age 5 to 10 times faster then your standard 55 gallon barrel. These 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.



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