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Whiskey aging experiment

perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
A while back I read a post about a guy turning the new trend of bottling unaged whiskey into an opportunity to age his own whiskey. He used a charred chunk of oak and mason jars but he also linked a site that sells small whiskey barrels (1, 2, and 3 Liters). So I picked up a pair of 1L barrels to give it a go.
image
So to start I decided to soak one in Port for a week before putting in the whiskey; the other I filled with moonshine from a local distillery.
image
Right now i'm planning a taste test about every two weeks to see how it develops. I know good whiskey generally takes quite a few years but hey, never know, might find something I like at an earlier point.

Comments

  • firetruckguyfiretruckguy Greeley, ColoradoPosts: 2,529 ✭✭✭
    I was under the impression that whisky will not change/get better with age like other distilled alcohol. Maybe I am mistaken?
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    The way I have always heard it is that it essentially stops aging/flavoring once it's bottled because it is the barrels that give it its character, but I may have gotten that wrong.
  • roland_7707roland_7707 Posts: 2,834 ✭✭✭
    Sounds like a good plan. And how is that local moonshine?
    One God, One Truth
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    It's pretty bad, less burn than the Kentucky White Lightning as far as I remember, it's only 95 proof. I saw at the liquor store that buffalo trace and Jack Daniels has an unaged whiskey out too, not sure if those would be any better, I wasn't quite prepared to pay 50 bucks a bottle for an experiment. I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
  • Rob1110Rob1110 Posts: 1,455 ✭✭
    Good idea on filling the barrels with Port first. The mistake that most people make when using spirals, chips, staves or small barrels is not allowing some of the tannins to leach out of the wood first. I always boil my oak chips a few times (you can just use hot water in a mini barrel and swish it around a bit - just be careful of steam) to pull the tannins. So if you haven't poured the Port in there yet, you may want to throw some hot water in before the Port. This will give you a larger window for aging and will allow the final product to age more gracefully without pulling sharp, harsh tannins too quickly.

    You'll see a color difference fairly quickly but expect it to take a few months at minimum. While you can't speed up the aging process, some young spirits will take well to a short barrel aging time. I'd start with a decent unaged spirit to begin with though. Bad whiskey will always be bad whiskey. Time in a barrel will never turn something bad into something good.

    As for the aging process: Aging stops when the spirit is no longer in contact with a barrel or wood and is bottled. Taking it out of the bottle and re-introducing it to a barrel or wood re-starts the aging process. The idea is that the spirit will not age in the bottle. It will simply evaporate over long periods of time.

    Doing stuff like this can be fun and rewarding but if it doesn't come out amazing first time around, don't let that discourage you. That's why I post stuff like this here. I've done these experiments and would like to pass on the info so others can learn from my mistakes. I recently aged a few bottles of very good, Anejo Tequila (Riazul) on Port soaked, American Oak chips and the end product came out stellar. My next experiment will be a blend of different mash bill Bourbons, aged on Cognac soaked French Oak chips.

    Cheers and good luck with your aging experiment!
  • Jetmech_63Jetmech_63 Posts: 3,454 ✭✭✭
    Rob1110:
    Good idea on filling the barrels with Port first. The mistake that most people make when using spirals, chips, staves or small barrels is not allowing some of the tannins to leach out of the wood first. I always boil my oak chips a few times (you can just use hot water in a mini barrel and swish it around a bit - just be careful of steam) to pull the tannins. So if you haven't poured the Port in there yet, you may want to throw some hot water in before the Port. This will give you a larger window for aging and will allow the final product to age more gracefully without pulling sharp, harsh tannins too quickly.

    You'll see a color difference fairly quickly but expect it to take a few months at minimum. While you can't speed up the aging process, some young spirits will take well to a short barrel aging time. I'd start with a decent unaged spirit to begin with though. Bad whiskey will always be bad whiskey. Time in a barrel will never turn something bad into something good.

    As for the aging process: Aging stops when the spirit is no longer in contact with a barrel or wood and is bottled. Taking it out of the bottle and re-introducing it to a barrel or wood re-starts the aging process. The idea is that the spirit will not age in the bottle. It will simply evaporate over long periods of time.

    Doing stuff like this can be fun and rewarding but if it doesn't come out amazing first time around, don't let that discourage you. That's why I post stuff like this here. I've done these experiments and would like to pass on the info so others can learn from my mistakes. I recently aged a few bottles of very good, Anejo Tequila (Riazul) on Port soaked, American Oak chips and the end product came out stellar. My next experiment will be a blend of different mash bill Bourbons, aged on Cognac soaked French Oak chips.

    Cheers and good luck with your aging experiment!

    If anyone is on the beer side of the house, i buy used staves of bourbon barrels, cut them in half and they fit into a fermentor. I use them for "bourbon barrel aged" stout and barleywine. After you cut them in half through you need to soak the whole thing in bourbon(poured over is fine and preferably with the same brand of hooch that was in the barrel) and wrap in saran wrap and leave overnight to sterilize the whole thing. The first time i did it i didnt do that and the nasties on the outside of the barrel infected my beer and quickly turned it into swill. A quick spritz of sanitizer just didnt do the trick.

    Really looking forward to following this! I've seen the "age your own whiskey" kits and always thought it would be fun to buy and play around with.
  • jd50aejd50ae West Gnawed Pencil, TNPosts: 7,754 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My favorite Scotch is GLENMORANGIE Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Duel Cask. Either Port or Sherry, and I am very interested in hearing how your experiment works out. You may be starting a new tend.

    And all of us following this will be able to say "we were there" :)

  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    Rob1110:
    Good idea on filling the barrels with Port first. The mistake that most people make when using spirals, chips, staves or small barrels is not allowing some of the tannins to leach out of the wood first. I always boil my oak chips a few times (you can just use hot water in a mini barrel and swish it around a bit - just be careful of steam) to pull the tannins. So if you haven't poured the Port in there yet, you may want to throw some hot water in before the Port. This will give you a larger window for aging and will allow the final product to age more gracefully without pulling sharp, harsh tannins too quickly.

    You'll see a color difference fairly quickly but expect it to take a few months at minimum. While you can't speed up the aging process, some young spirits will take well to a short barrel aging time. I'd start with a decent unaged spirit to begin with though. Bad whiskey will always be bad whiskey. Time in a barrel will never turn something bad into something good.

    As for the aging process: Aging stops when the spirit is no longer in contact with a barrel or wood and is bottled. Taking it out of the bottle and re-introducing it to a barrel or wood re-starts the aging process. The idea is that the spirit will not age in the bottle. It will simply evaporate over long periods of time.

    Doing stuff like this can be fun and rewarding but if it doesn't come out amazing first time around, don't let that discourage you. That's why I post stuff like this here. I've done these experiments and would like to pass on the info so others can learn from my mistakes. I recently aged a few bottles of very good, Anejo Tequila (Riazul) on Port soaked, American Oak chips and the end product came out stellar. My next experiment will be a blend of different mash bill Bourbons, aged on Cognac soaked French Oak chips.

    Cheers and good luck with your aging experiment!
    Thanks for the info, that helps! The instructions said to "cure" the barrels by soaking them in water fully submerged for 24-36 hours; when that was done to half fill with hot water and swirl and drain until the water comes out clear. I did it a couple extra times after it came out clear just to be sure. My plan at the moment is to test it about once a month to see how it progresses. Depending on how this goes I may get a couple more and try one barrel with sherry and then maybe go your route with tequila, that sounds awesome.
  • Rob1110Rob1110 Posts: 1,455 ✭✭
    Soaking them will also allow the staves to expand so there's no leakage. Running hot water until it drains clear is pulling all of the harsh tannins. This is going to give you a much bigger window of forgiveness when aging your spirit. And don't be afraid to age something that's already aged. Take your favorite Bourbon, Tequila, Scotch, Cognac, even Gin and give it a "barrel finish." The best part is that you have complete control over how much of that finish you want to influence your final product. Port will lend ripe, dark fruit and cocoa/chocolate notes to your spirit. Dry Sherry (Oloroso, Amontillado) will impart nuts and dried fruit notes, where sweet Sherry (Pedro Ximenez) will impart sweet fruit, raisin, fig, plum and honey notes. Even sweet white wines (ice wine, Sauternes) will work by adding honey notes.

    Feel free to ask if you have any questions at all.
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    So here is the first draw at the one month point. The port barrel is on the right, the pure oak is on the left:
    image
    I have been turning the barrels top to bottom every three days to make sure it's properly mixing and keeps the barrels hydrated.

    Smell: The port is beginning to smell like the whiskey I like, the straight oak is still very strong alcohol

    Taste: The port has already taken the sharpest edge off the whiskey, the straight oak is still mostly straight alcohol.

    Appearance: I was surprised that the port barrel is a lighter, more golden color (it's a little more pronounced in the picture), I had expected it to be the darker of the two.
  • jd50aejd50ae West Gnawed Pencil, TNPosts: 7,754 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Actually kind of impressive. Be more then happy to sample it for you.

  • The_KidThe_Kid Posts: 7,871 ✭✭✭
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    The Kid:
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I "cleaned" them both the same amount of time before filling, wonder if maybe the port drain took a little extra loose...stuff out. Do you know if the distilleries filter before bottling?
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 9,137 ✭✭✭✭✭
    perkinke:
    The Kid:
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I "cleaned" them both the same amount of time before filling, wonder if maybe the port drain took a little extra loose...stuff out. Do you know if the distilleries filter before bottling?
    Look up chill filtering.
    There is no crisis that a good cigar can't cure.
    In Fumo Pax
    Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy cigars and that's close enough.

    Wylaff said:
    Atmospheric pressure and crap.
  • gmill880gmill880 Posts: 5,947
    Interesting ... I should be drinking more with the chaos surrounding me .
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    0patience:
    perkinke:
    The Kid:
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I "cleaned" them both the same amount of time before filling, wonder if maybe the port drain took a little extra loose...stuff out. Do you know if the distilleries filter before bottling?
    Look up chill filtering.
    Isn't that what they do to Coors to make it taste like petrified turtle piss? ;) I looked it up and that might be an idea if/when I bottle, but it does look like it could explain the color difference because the non-port "raw" whiskey was right around 90 proof, which is lower than the 92 proof listed as the point where it matters.
  • dr_frankenstein56dr_frankenstein56 Posts: 1,613 ✭✭✭
    perkinke:
    0patience:
    perkinke:
    The Kid:
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I "cleaned" them both the same amount of time before filling, wonder if maybe the port drain took a little extra loose...stuff out. Do you know if the distilleries filter before bottling?
    Look up chill filtering.
    Isn't that what they do to Coors to make it taste like petrified turtle piss? ;) I looked it up and that might be an idea if/when I bottle, but it does look like it could explain the color difference because the non-port "raw" whiskey was right around 90 proof, which is lower than the 92 proof listed as the point where it matters.
    Coors is good turtle piss.

    Aj
  • The_KidThe_Kid Posts: 7,871 ✭✭✭
    perkinke:
    The Kid:
    perkinke:
    I was talking to the owner of the store and she said more of the big brands are coming out with moonshines or uanged versions. When I asked why, she just shrugged and said "I think the **** hipsters are getting into whiskey."
    lmao,^^
    interesting experiment, the things we'll do in the name of science. Wonder if you should perform additional filtering, (Britta ) prior to "testing"
    Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I "cleaned" them both the same amount of time before filling, wonder if maybe the port drain took a little extra loose...stuff out. Do you know if the distilleries filter before bottling?
    From my limited knowledge yes they filter before bottling, Charcoal filtering is a common method. Hope it helps
  • Gray4linesGray4lines KentuckyPosts: 4,502 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I thought the carbon inside the barrel was like a filter. I'd strain out any chunks and drink it up! Does the proof inside the barrel have any impact on aging? For example, when a distillery makes bourbon, they produce the new make (moonshine) then barrel it. You have a watered down moonshine, 95 proof, which is what they'd get the finished bourbon down to after being poured out of the barrel. Can't wait to see what happens, looks like it has already taken on a good color!
    LLA - Lancero Lovers of America
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    I did this with JD unaged rye, minus the port. Filtered with simple coffee filter in a funnel, what science protocols call a "gravity filter." Very happy with the result. Color came quickly, in a week or so, good flavor took a bit longer, you can't tell anything at all from the color I'm afraid.
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    I did this with JD unaged rye, minus the port. Filtered with simple coffee filter in a funnel, what science protocols call a "gravity filter." Very happy with the result. Color came quickly, in a week or so, good flavor took a bit longer, you can't tell anything at all from the color I'm afraid.
    How long did you age it overall?
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    perkinke:
    Ken Light:
    I did this with JD unaged rye, minus the port. Filtered with simple coffee filter in a funnel, what science protocols call a "gravity filter." Very happy with the result. Color came quickly, in a week or so, good flavor took a bit longer, you can't tell anything at all from the color I'm afraid.
    How long did you age it overall?
    I was trying to remember this when I made the last post and failed. The short, practical answer is I aged it until the darn barrel started leaking and fortunately I was still happy with the result. I'm thinking 2 months?
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • perkinkeperkinke Posts: 1,575 ✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    perkinke:
    Ken Light:
    I did this with JD unaged rye, minus the port. Filtered with simple coffee filter in a funnel, what science protocols call a "gravity filter." Very happy with the result. Color came quickly, in a week or so, good flavor took a bit longer, you can't tell anything at all from the color I'm afraid.
    How long did you age it overall?
    I was trying to remember this when I made the last post and failed. The short, practical answer is I aged it until the darn barrel started leaking and fortunately I was still happy with the result. I'm thinking 2 months?
    Oh that's cool, I was expecting to keep it longer than that before it really tasted good, I used the JD in one of my barrels as well and a local distillery's moonshine in the other.
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