Frequently Asked Questions About Your White Oak Bourbon Barrel
Now that you know about the potential of a Bourbon Review Barrel, you probably have a lot of questions. We at the Bourbon Review want to make sure that all of your questions are answered and you are 100% comfortable with your purchase. See below for some Frequently Asked Questions and the barrel part diagram, but if you have something else in particular that is not covered on this page, do not hesitate to contact us with questions.
I have the barrels, now what do I do?
First, you must “cure” your barrel. Because the barrels are not made with any glue or nails, the wood relies on the moisture from the spirit to expand the wood and keep the wooden staves sealed tight to ensure there are no leaks. To cure your barrel, follow these steps:
- Place the spigot in the face of the barrel.
- Fill the barrel with hot water (not scalding) and let it sit for at least 48 hours with the bung placed in the top of the barrel (because the staves are not sealed tightly until the curing process is complete, the barrel will leak. Due to this, you want to make sure you store your barrel in a sink, bath tub, etc). Monitor the water level of the barrel and refill the water until the barrel is filled. Continue to do this until the barrel is no longer leaking water. This should take approximately 2-3 days.
- Once your barrel is no longer leaking, you must clean your barrel. To clean the barrel, take the bunghole off the barrel and drain the barrel. Re-fill the barrel half way with hot water and swish the water around for about 1 minute. After a minute, drain the water. Continue this process approximately three times, or until the water coming from the barrel is clear (not cloudy).
- Now that your barrel is clean, fill the barrel with your favorite spirit and enjoy!!
Using the Barrel
To pour your favorite spirit out of the barrel,
- Take out the bung from the top bunghole
- Turn the spigot nozzle to allow the spirit to pour into your glass.
- When the spirit is to the level you desire, turn the nozzle back to a closed position
- Place the bung back in the hole.
Barrel Care and Maintenance
Since these barrels are made from oak and are natural products, the wood expands and contracts with temperature variations. So the health of your barrel depends on your maintenance and storage methods. The barrels are best stored in a shaded area where the temperature remains constant.
Once you begin using your barrel, the top portion of the barrel will begin to dry-out, which might cause the barrel to slightly leak. If you notice this, the solution is simple. All you need to do is pick up your barrel and twist the barrel around (make sure your bung is firmly in place) and make sure all of the liquid in the barrel touches the surface of the top portion of the barrel. Since water and liquid is nature’s best “Cooper”, this should expand your wood to seal the barrel tight to eliminate any leakage. If this does not stop the leaking then make sure hoops are on tight.
How long can you age your spirit?
This is all up to you! The spirit can age anywhere from one week to three years, but what we recommend is performing a taste test every couple of weeks to taste the spirit. Once the spirit reaches your perfect taste, empty the spirit into a decanter and restart the process!
What are the barrels made of?
The barrels are made out of Canadian and Kentucky white oak. The metal bands are steel and brass and the lacquer is from minwax.
How many times can you re-use your barrel?
This depends on the type of spirit that you use. Generally speaking, after curing and filling the barrel three times, the impact of the oak will diminish over time. As a general rule, the barrels can be reused the following number of times for each specified spirit:
- Wine- 1 Time
- Whiskey / Bourbon – 4 Times
- Rum- 7 Times
- Tequila- 10 Times
When the barrel is used more than the number of times allotted above, the spirit can still be stored in the barrel, however, the impact from the wood will diminish
How do I clean my barrel?
Because The Bourbon Review does not recommend switching types of spirits while using the same barrel, we recommend cleaning the barrel by simply filling the empty barrel with hot water about half-full, swish the water around (while holding the bunghole to make sure water is not released), then drain the water. Repeat this process approximately three times or until the water has no color. Once this occurs, re-cure the barrel, then re-fill the barrel with your favorite spirit!
If my barrel will be sitting for an extended period of time, what do I need to do with it to keep it healthy? To ensure that the barrel does not dry out over time, half fill the barrel (do NOT fill the barrel to the top if storing for an extended period of time) with water and a small amount of the spirit with which you have been filling the barrel (bourbon, whiskey, rum, tequila, etc) and seal the bunghole tight. The moisture inside the barrel will not allow the barrel to shrink and dry.
What can I get engraved on the barrel?
The three liter barrels can hold approximately 30 (assuming the characters are on different lines) characters, but the 1 liter can hold only approximately 10 characters (assuming the characters are on different lines).
If you flavor a liquor in a barrel, can you clean the barrel and use the same barrel to age a different kind of liquor?
If you flavor a spirit in a specific barrel, then we do not recommend switching flavors. For example, if you wish to flavor your whiskey with honey, then the honey flavor will remain in the barrel for the next barrel fill.