Whiskey barrel can be used for many things

Whether it’s a personalized whiskey barrel for your backyard to keep the rainwater, or a whiskey barrel for maturing your own whiskey, there are lots of places to shop for nice whiskey casks for personal use. For a whiskey enthusiast like me, I really can’t think of any better gift, than a whiskey making kit with a barrel included – for maturing your own whiskey! A perfect gift for whisky aficionados. Definitely in my gift list, that’s for sure.

There are different types of casks to choose from, when your hunting for one. Amazon for instance, sells all kinds of whiskey casks from used to new ones, from big whiskey barrels weighing 120 lbs, to small 1 or 2 liter casks for decoration or maturing whiskey. I’ve seen authentic Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels on eBay as well. I won’t be concentrating on used whiskey barrels for the garden or any other display purpose. Instead I’ll be writing about whiskey aging kits, the ones that allow you to buy a suitable spirit and a cask for aging your own whiskey just the way you like it.

How to buy a whisky barrel for aging

Well, this is a tough question if you’re looking for used whisky barrels from, buying them from a private person for example. Then it’s all about trusting the buyer and that the whisky cask is in good shape and most importantly, in shape for maturing your own whisky. You will also need to buy the spirit for the whisky barrel. So trying to seek these ingredients separately can be a tough job to do. That’s why it’s nice to see companies nowadays, offering their services for whisky aging kits. You can buy the whole kit from same place, giving you just the kind of spirit you want. Whether it’s a malt whisky spirit or a bourbon or a rye – you can determine the nature of the spirit yourself. What’s best, you can get different sized whisky barrels with the kit as well. Usually there’s American White Oak barrels in 1, 2, 3 or 5 liter sizes.
What you usually get with whisky aging kit:

  • 1 New American White Oak barrel
  • New-make spirit
  • A tap and a stand for the whisky barrel

You probably will need to give the tap a good whack to seat it into the barrel correctly. To create a good full seal. But don’t go nuts and break the barrel by pushing too far in. If the hoops around the barrel are too loose or there is bit of seepage from the cask ends when you’re filling it – pour hot water in the barrel before beginning. Pour just enough to help the wood expand, making the barrel watertight.

Keep in mind that with new oak barrels, the first fill will be very strong in terms of oak influence on the flavor. You can re-use your whiskey barrel at least two more times before the oak influences wane. The rate of evaporation aka angel’s share, is quite big with these custom barrels. That’s because of the high surface area and if temperature control isn’t proper during maturation. That’s why it is good keep your barrel at the coldest temperature possible. This will help minimize the rate of alcohol evaporation. If you have a garage or a cellar, use those or similar kind of places. Then the absolute maximum loss through evaporation will be around 5 to 15% per month.

Here’s a nice presentation of different sized whiskey barrels by Steve Mayes:

They have handmade oak barrels designed for aging rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, brandy and wine. And you can find lots of different whiskey barrel producers online – selling customized oak barrels for private use. Amazon in one of the easiest way to get your kind of whiskey barrel for example – they have a large selection and good prices.