All About Whiskey Barrels
They Use Whiskey Barrels For THAT?
When you start to get into having a favorite kind of whiskey or scotch and even come so far as to buy your own whiskey barrel to age your own spirits in, you move into the “lover of fine spirits” category. This means that you have an appreciation for some of the finer aspects of spirits that others may not, and even might geek out over the specifics of how things are made or where they come from and their backstory.
With your brand new whiskey barrel, you’ve probably thought about what kind of spirits you’re going to age inside of it and if you’re going to add any essences (vanilla, caramel, etc) to give it a smooth flavor in addition to what the barrel has to offer. Bourbon distilleries in America think of these same things and experiment with what kind of essences they are going to flavor their bourbon with when they put the spirit in the brand new Oak barrels they’ve brought in. But did you know that bourbon has to be aged in brand new barrels every single time its aged in order to be considered bourbon?
This policy dates back to the Depression era, after prohibition had ended and many distilleries put this into place to provide work for coppers and loggers who had been out of work, and continued to keep the policy in place due to the idea that the more times you use a barrel, the less flavor it gives to the spirit and would make it harder to product a consistent product. However, the Scottish and Irish, who were having a hard time restarting their whisky distilleries during this same time, began buying the used American aged barrels for their spirits. They discovered how wonderful the American barrels were and how much use could still be gotten out of them and became dependent on the used barrels, still using them today to age their Scotches and Whiskies.
Nowadays, wineries have even begun to try out their own aging of wine in used American bourbon barrels. The bourbon influence on the flavors and aging of the wine create an entirely new experience for wine drinkers and is becoming a popular fashion to age wine in. The barrel takes the bold, ripened wine inside and adds very smooth vanilla and candied notes to it that can be intense, with added flavors of charred wood or campfire. If this trend continues, it could changed the definition of what we think of when someone describes a varietal of wine!
So after you’ve aged your first whiskey or scotch in your brand new oak barrel, what will you try next? The same thing? Or are you going to branch out and experiment with aging a spirit, wine, or even beer, that’s never been tried before? Get creative with what you do and what you’re passionate about! If you discovered a great new aging process or way to use your barrel, post below and let us know!
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