Aging 101: The Science of Aging Liquor
If you enjoy the smooth and sophisticated taste of quality aged liquor but balk at the prohibitively high prices commanded by your neighborhood liquor store or bar, read on! There’s a much more economical option. You can actually create the same quality liquor in your own home. With the Deep South oak aging barrel, you can age your favorite liquor to perfection in as little as two to four weeks.
You read correctly. Our Texas oak barrels not only look amazing on your bar, but they can also take any rum, whiskey or tequila to a new level of smoothness and flavor.
How Is Liquor Aged? The Process Goes Way Back.
Aging liquor to enhance its flavor and quality goes back thousands of years. Drinkers have known for a long time about the beauty of the aged spirit that can take years to create. People often wonder how you can possibly age liquor in as little as two to four weeks.
It has to do with the size and quality of our authentic American oak aging barrels. The barrels are small enough that the surface area of the interior is able to flavor and age the volume of liquor inside in a very short time. The least expensive alcohol can take on a whole new level of taste and refinement when properly aged.
Best of all, it’s possible to achieve the scientific transformation in your own home.
Aging Is Simple Yet Impressive Science
Aging is simply the process of storing liquor in a container that changes the flavor and brings out the smoothness. The taste is enhanced and the harshness of the spirit is mellowed because of the way the liquid interacts with the inherent qualities of the container.
The charred oak barrel also aerates the alcohol, which contributes to a softening of the taste and makes the final beverage more drinkable. Aged liquor usually takes years and years because it’s a slow process for the alcohol to soak into the wood and for the wood to give back its flavors from the vanillin and tannins into the liquid. It’s a gentle chemical exchange that can take a very pale and harsh liquor to a smooth, mellow and darkly gorgeous spirit.
This, in a nutshell — or, in this case, an oak barrel — is how liquor is aged.
Oak Makes a Perfect Vessel for Aging
Oak is the most common type of vessel used for aging. Other woods can be used and will impart a different flavor. Repeated use of an oak barrel with different types of alcohols will infuse each new batch with hints of the prior barrel’s occupants, creating a truly unique beverage. Often, the oak is charred.
Our Deep South Oak barrels are made in the USA from genuine American white oaks grown in the United States. Our very own expert Cooper crafts each barrel true to tradition. This means no nails and no glue. They are cut and made to fit together perfectly, with only bands to hold the masterpiece together. No fancy factory assembly lines for us.
Each aging whiskey barrel is a unique piece of art, in addition to being a highly functional tool. Any barrel you order can be custom engraved with your name for a personalized logo. Imagine the conversations that will take place when your guests see one of these beautiful barrels sitting on your bar.
Science Dictates Which Liquors Should Be Aged
The science of aging liquor is a fascinating process that can improve the drinking experience of many spirits. But it isn’t ideal for all spirits. It all depends on how the liquor is made in the first place.
Spirits are either column distilled or pot distilled. Pot distilled liquor is created in a copper vessel. It’s heated from the bottom and the alcohol is able to rise up and evaporate, leaving alcohol congeners behind. Congeners are residuals that do not evaporate out of the liquid during the distillation process.
When a spirit is column distilled, the liquid flows downward and travels through what is at least partially stainless steel, leaving fewer alcohol congeners behind. The flavor of column distilled liquor is distinctive from pot distilled spirits because of the number of alcohol congeners in the final product. The alcohol congeners add to the flavor and final character in such a way that the liquor will have the most benefit from being aged.
Vodka and London dry gin are two examples of column distilled spirits that don’t have a high alcohol congener concentration. Most likely, you won’t notice any difference in the flavor without enhancing it with one of our Deep South barrel bootlegger essence additions.
Alcohol that is pot distilled has a lot more character and is naturally enhanced by being aged in an oak barrel. So brandy, scotch and rum make excellent aging candidates. Bourbon is actually column distilled, but it makes a wonderful aged liquor, too.
Aging Liquor Process Improves in an Oak Container
The container that’s used to age alcohol is crucial to achieve the right flavor and quality in the finished spirit. The beauty of the oak barrel is the vanillin and the tannins that come from the barrel itself to change the nature of the liquor.
In a large-scale aging operation, you would have to calculate and take into consideration factors like time, climate and humidity when aging your spirit. Scotch accepts humid climates and Bourbon likes dry environments, but you really don’t need to worry about that when you’re using one of our barrels.
Because you’re working on a smaller scale, you can achieve perfect results, no matter where you live, in as little as two to four weeks. You can age it up to a couple of months if you like, though.
Aging Spirits in a Fraction of the Time Is Not a New Concept
At Deep South Barrels, we have found a way for you to speed up the aging process. But this is nothing new. A few successful distillers have been trying to speed up the aging process in order to capitalize on the demand for aging spirits. It has been simply a matter of scientific experimentation to find ways to infuse the alcohol with the flavors of the woods while mellowing the harshness.
It can be done on a very grand scale, as some companies are learning with great success. Some distilleries are even experimenting with new techniques to speed up the aging process. One method involves chopping up the charred oak barrel and letting it essentially stew inside of the alcohol in a stainless steel container. Interesting, but definitely not necessary for you to do.
Speaking of stainless steel, stainless steel barrels are primarily used to stop the aging process of bourbon once it has reached its peak aging. Stainless steel does not impart flavors or aging characteristics to the liquor. And previous alcohols stored in the container will not contribute to the flavors of future liquors. It does provide a good vessel for storing the aged liquor long-term after you remove it from the oak barrel, however.
Another of the techniques on the market is to use very small barrels, because the flavor and the mellowing effect of the woods come into contact with all of the liquid in the barrel at faster rate than in a giant 53-gallon barrel. And this is exactly what you can do yourself at home, with impressive results.
There’s no need for you to pay exorbitant amounts of money on equipment to produce quality aging spirits. Nor is it necessary for you to build a full-scale operation at home. It truly is possible to enjoy this level of liquor in your own a home with one of our Deep South Barrels oak barrels. With the basic chemistry in our small Texas White oak barrels, you can age your own liquor and you don’t even have to study the process.
There’s really no learning curve. Because we’ve calculated all of the science for you, now you can produce the finest quality aged liquor in your own bar. You can just enjoy the experimentation process with different alcohol that you purchase.
The aging process you can do in your bar is a fraction of the time required to age quality spirits in a large-scale operation. While a professionally created Reposado tequila can take as little as two months for a distillery, Scotch whiskey is aged for three years and a day, or up to 10 years. Professionally processed Cognac can wait for two to eight years in a barrel before it’s ready to be consumed. Eight years! And the longer it’s been aged, the more expensive it is to buy.
How great it is to be able to replicate this process at home in your own bar in just a few weeks! You and your friends are going to be truly impressed by the quality of your home crafted aged liquor.
We Have the Scientific Formula for Your Success
We actually use scientific ratios to compute the amount of time that’s needed to age whiskey inside the barrel, based on the science of aging whiskey in a 53-gallon barrel. Our Deep South barrels come in 1-20 liter sizes. The size of the barrel determines how long you need to age the whiskey to achieve results similar to aging in a 53-gallon barrel. A 1-liter barrel will take less than two months, and a 10-liter barrel will age liquor in about four and a half months.
Deep South Barrels and Their Fans Have Great Recipes for You
You don’t need to stop at just pouring your favorite bottled spirit into the mini oak barrel and awaiting your delicious results. Deep South Barrels has a lot of fantastic recipes to customize your beverage, too. How does Tequila infused with cinnamon and orange sound on a fall evening? Or honey whiskey while visiting with friends and family? Devil’s lemonade would be perfect on a Saturday afternoon.
Most of our recipes take three weeks to finish. While you’re waiting, you can visit our site to see what other recipes our Deep South Barrel aficionados have come up with. We encourage you to share your own ideas so everyone can have fun creating new aged liquors!
Aging Oak Barrels Are Fine for Wine
Aging alcoholic beverages in oak barrels is not limited to liquor. Wine has been stored in oak barrels for thousands of years, starting with the Romans. They used to carry their wine in clay vessels, but when they discovered the benefits of oak, they switched to that option. Oak has the benefit of being waterproof after being properly cured, being easy to carry and being able to be sealed tightly.
Another advantage of oak is that it lends a vanilla, buttery or caramel flavor to the wine. You can definitely try aging some wine in one of our Texas oak barrels to make your wine more interesting and unique for your guests.
Got beer drinkers in your house? They’re welcome to jump on board the aging train, too! Lots of homebrewers are beginning to try their hand at aging their own beer. Because most beers are lower in alcohol or have a lighter flavor than liquor or wine, you don’t need to age them for too long.
Beers with a higher alcohol percent and stronger flavor are the best candidates for aging. Stout and strong ales are the best choices. Definitely do some research on the best length of time to age your particular beer recipe. You want to leave the beer in long enough that it picks up floral and vanilla notes, but not so long that it becomes overpowered by the flavor of the barrel or any remaining liquor that’s in the wood.
By now, you’ve got to be convinced that a Texas oak aging barrel is something you need to take your ordinary alcohol to an extraordinary level. Our Deep South aging barrels are the best around. They’re made in the USA out of high-quality materials by expert craftsmen. They look gorgeous, make interesting conversation pieces on your bar and they transform liquor into a work of art.
Order your aging barrel today, and don’t forget to customize it with your own engraved monogram, logo or mascot for a truly one-of-a-kind barrel. You can purchase more than one barrel and display them on our metal barrel bar stands. Talk about an impressive-looking bar!
Once you’ve added a Deep South Barrel to your bar collection, you will open up a new and delicious world for yourself and your friends. Now you can buy rum, tequila, bourbon or brandy off the sale shelves at your local grocery store and not worry about the low quality. You can take the least-expensive spirits and turn them into a magnificent beverage from your custom oak barrel.
Purchase yours today and prepare for an incredible experience in aged alcohol at home.