Adventures in Bourbon: Aging Part 1

If you know me at all, you would know that I am passionate about bourbon. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the distilling process and even visited Bourbon Country a few times. I loved going to each distillery and learning how they make their brand unique and create the variety of flavors that can be found in each bottle.  The key to crafting a bold, flavorful liquor is the aging process, which starts with a new charred oak barrel and unaged “white dog” (aka the raw distillate). They are put together and sent to a rickhouse to sit for years. Once the time comes, the barrel is dumped and either bottled straight up, watered down to a certain proof, and/or blended with other barrels. I thought about it, and figured if they could do it, so could I…so I did. 

Well, on a small scale. I acquired a new wooden barrel from a Macy’s sale and found some raw distillate (the closest I could find to full proof) from Pabst Blue Ribbon of all brands. After soaking the barrel for about a day in water, I dumped it and refilled it with 1.5 liters of raw distillate. This barrel then went up to the attic above our garage, where the temperature swings will hopefully provide plenty of the push/pull of the distillate through the wood. This push/pull process is what colors and flavors the bourbon. That process happens when the temperature of the wood changes, which either results in the wood absorbing the distillate (warm) or pushing it out of the wood (cold). 

According to my research, smaller barrels age faster, so I plan to check it after a week or so to see if it has gotten any color. If all goes well, it should be a very tasty experiment that, if successful, I will repeat again with more distillate. Once I have used the barrel two to three times, I plan to cut a larger hole in one of the sides to age some green coffee beans. That experiment will let me see if we could do bourbon barrel aged coffee at Obvious Coffee in the future. 

Stay tuned for the next post when we dump the barrel and try the results.

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