Oak barrels are a significant investment that you need to treat consistently and gently to ensure maximum use. With proper care and maintenance, your barrel can last for many years. So, it means you can produce lots of wines, whiskeys, brandies, and other spirits.
Your new oak barrel welcomes you to the incredible aging process of your alcoholic beverages. With the age-old tradition of producing high quality drinks, you can achieve the signature taste, aroma, and texture.
However, aside from expecting quality finished products, you also need to consider several things to ensure the proper use of your new oak barrel. Below is a care guide you can try to ensure long-term use of your oak barrel.
When buying your first oak barrel, ensure to thoroughly inspect its interior and exterior to see any potential problems. Look for obvious wide joint gaps or wood defects. The exterior should have a narrow and tight stave and head joints. Then, the bunghole should be tapered, and the hoops are fastened properly.
Your new oak barrel should have a sweet smell and ensure that there’s no vinegar smell or mustiness.
Preparing Your Oak Barrel for Use
A new barrel or has been stored dry requires to be swelled with water. That is to seal itself before you can put brandy, whiskey, wine, or other spirits in it. After that, you can enjoy aging your desired spirit.
How to Deal with Spoilage Problems
With proper maintenance, you will not experience any problem with your oak barrel. However, improperly maintained oak barrels could result to spoilage problems. These problems can occur because the material is a great breeding medium for bacteria and spoilage organisms.
In order for you to treat any spoilage problem, ensure to fill your oak barrel two-thirds with cool water. Dissolve sodium percarbonate or sodium carbonate in the water at a rate of one teaspoon per gallon for mild spoilage problems. However, if the problem is serious, ensure to use up to three teaspoons per gallon of water. Add this solution to the oak barrel. Then, top with water.
Let your oak barrel soak in the solution overnight. Empty the barrel and neutralize the alkaline residues by using a citric acid solution. You can make the solution by dissolving 1 teaspoon of citric acid powder per gallon. If your barrel is 15 gallons, ensure to dissolve 15 teaspoons of citric acid powder.
After you fill the oak barrel two-thirds with cool water, ensure to pour the citric acid solution. Then, top with water and let it soak overnight.
Empty your oak barrel and rinse it thoroughly. Let it dry completely. Try to smell it to determine whether there’s an odor. If you notice that it does not smell clean, ensure to repeat the treatment.
Regardless of what spirit you will put in your oak barrel, ensure to use it properly. That way, you can produce as much wine, brandy, or whiskey as you want. We hope the above tips will help you with your next spirit aging process.