How to choose an oak barrel for homemade drinks

When looking for a keg for aging drinks at home, look for small oak wood barrels under 10 liters. They are more suitable for home use. Remember that in small volumes, it is not about the amount of wine you get, but about the speed of making the alcohol. The more calvados or other alcohol comes into contact with the wood, the faster it will mature and be ready for tasting.

For example, if you buy a 5-liter oak barrel, each liter of liquid will come into contact with 400 cm2 of wood. In a 50-liter container, one liter of cognac contacts 152 cm2 of wood. This is almost three times less than in a 5-liter barrel. Accordingly, the aging period will be three times longer.

The whisky should be aged for 6 to 12 months at 22 to 24 degrees Celsius in a 5-liter oak barrel. For cognac or calvados, the aging period is 6 months. Aging the drink longer is not recommended. Regardless of the size of the barrel, the wood passes through the pores up to a liter of liquid per year. This means that a five-liter barrel can be empty in 5 years.

On sale, you can find wooden barrels coated with wax. These oak barrels are protected against leaks and negative environmental effects. They look nice and do not interfere with the natural exchange of air through the pores. But such barrels nevertheless require soaking in water to remove excess tannins.

Once you’ve chosen a barrel, start preparing for making your drink of choice. Perhaps you will enjoy the process and decide to open your own distillery.

If the barrel has not been used for a long time, the wood may dry out and lose its tightness. In this case, a new soaking is needed. But in the second and subsequent times it is faster and easier. You will need to keep the water inside the container for 6 days, changing it once a day.

Knowing how to prepare the oak barrel for the first use and how to treat it for the second time, you will achieve good results. Your brewed alcohol will lose unnecessary bitterness and tartness. It will acquire subtle aromas of cloves, vanilla, tobacco, and other natural ingredients, which would be impossible to feel without aging in a vessel made of natural wood. Enjoy your homemade beverages!