Humans undergo transformative experiences. However, did you know that wines, brandies, whiskeys, and other spirits are no exception to this?
Every distiller from different parts of the world has his or her unique philosophies and systems when it comes to barrel aging. But, all of them agree that barrel aging is an essential part of the spirit’s flavor and aroma development.
If you are new to the world of spirits and not quite familiar with barre aging, this post is for you. So, let’s get started!
What Exactly Is Barrel Aging
Barrel aging refers to the process of aging spirits in an oak or wooden barrel. It is the cornerstone of the “élevage” process, a French word that means “upbringing” or “raising.” The wine’s “élevage” can last for several months or even years. It is the time when the wine’s flavors completely integrate and mature.
Your choices during the aging process, such as how much to manipulate the wine age or how long to age it, deliver a vast impact to the finished product’s taste. Whether to age your wine in oak or steel barrels is also an important decision to make.
What Happens During the Aging Process
Raw ingredients are placed in a wood barrel and then aged for a varied time as it is being determined by the humidity and temperature of the environment. The wood enables the vapor to pass outside of your barrel while integrating oxygen over time.
Besides playing a critical role in the exchange of air, the wood barrel also serves as a filter. Generally, wood barrels are toasted or charred before filling with the ingredients. As a result, you will find charcoal coating will act as a filter that can remove unwanted flavors.
The charcoal coating pulls disagreeable flavors to ensure an impressive spirit taste. The wood will then blend in its essence, tannins, and mingling vanillin. You will also get the smoky flavor that is usually found in whiskey.
Why Barrel Aging Matters
Wood barrels play a critical role in the successful aging process. These barrels allow direct airflow, which invites oxygen into the process and enables evaporation. They also filter our flavors that can produce unwelcome tastes. The wood also helps in reducing the ethanol level in the spirit. In return, it eliminates the rubbing alcohol sensation.
Barrel aging is responsible for creating spirit products with full flavor and aroma. You will not find any quality that can ruin your drinking experience.
The wood can achieve two effects. First, it slowly introduces oxygen to your desired spirit. Second, it introduces natural wood flavor to the spirit. If your wood barrel has been used to age a specific spirit, it will carry the traces of that spirit that delivers a desirable trait.
Without the barrel aging, you might not experience the aroma, taste, and texture that you are looking for in a spirit. Now that you know what barrel aging is and its importance, your next spirit production could be more meaningful for you.
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