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Badmotivator Oak Barrels, where tradition meets innovation. Specialising in finely crafted American White Oak barrels, perfect for aging spirits

Badmotivator Oak Barrels, where tradition meets innovation. Specialising in finely crafted American White Oak barrels, perfect for aging spirits

Check out our range of Badmotivator Oak Barrels here

After receiving your new barrel, it’s crucial to give it the right care to ensure its longevity and performance. These barrels have been imported from Badmotivator in the US, and to prevent stave shrinkage during transport the barrels are shipped moist. Even with heavy sulphur treatment some mold growth can develop around the bunghole from the natural sugars and organisms in the staves. When you unpack your barrel do the following immediately:

IMPORTANT Rinsing & Sterilising the Barrel: This barrel has been treated with sulphur. Check around the barrel bunghole, if there is any sign of growth the barrel will need to be sterilised, this can easily be done by using 150ml of +85% ABV ethanol in the barrel, put in the bung, stand on its face and leave for 24 hours. Empty the barrel and wipe the bunghole and surrounds with a cloth soaked in spirit, then move on to the rinsing routine.

Rinsing: Before filling this barrel, it is essential to rinse it thoroughly to remove any sulphur residue.

Caring for your barrel once rinsed and cleaned

Immediate Filling: If possible, fill the barrels with your chosen spirit right away. This not only prevents the wood from drying out but also kick-starts the aging process.

Avoid Storing in the Bag: To prevent any potential mold growth, make sure to remove the barrel from the bag during storage.

Headspace: Leave about 5% headspace in the barrel. This small amount of space allows the spirit to expand and contract as seasons change. A tip is to fill the barrel to approximately 25mm below the bung when it's positioned head up, ensuring the right amount of headspace.

Use a High-Proof Spirit: If you’re not ready to fill the barrel with your aging spirit, a small amount of high-proof alcohol like vodka or ethanol can be used as a temporary alternative. This will help to keep the wood swollen and ensure the barrel remains sealed. Until you’re ready for the main fill, store the barrels on their face. This position, combined with the alcohol inside, will keep the heads moist and clean, maintaining the barrel’s integrity.

Secure the Bung: After filling, make sure to securely place the bung. A quick thwack with a mallet will ensure a secure seal, preventing any leaks or exposure to air.

Consider Long-Term Storage Solutions: If you plan to store the barrels for an extended period, you might want to consider using a solution of potassium metabisulfite and citric acid. This will help to preserve the wood and keep it in optimal condition.

At Minimum, Use Water: If none of the above options are feasible, filling the barrels with water is the bare minimum to prevent mold and keep the staves from shrinking.

By following these suggestions, you’ll ensure your barrels are well-maintained and ready to impart delicious flavours to your spirits. Remember, a well-cared-for barrel is a crucial ingredient in the recipe for exceptional aged spirits!

The toast and char levels of a barrel have a significant impact on the final flavour profile of a spirit. Here are some general suggestions based on different toasting and charring combinations:

Light Toast, Char 1 Barrel:

  • Gin: A light toast with minimal char is great for gin, which benefits from subtle flavour enhancements that don't overshadow its botanicals.
  • White Rum: This combination will add a bit of complexity without making the rum too heavy or oaky.
  • Tequila: This would add a subtle depth to silver tequila-style spirits if you're interested in aging it for a short period

Medium Toast, Char 2 Barrel:

  • Bourbon Whiskey: A medium toast with a #2 char provides a balanced profile, adding a touch of caramel and vanilla flavours.
  • Rye Whiskey: This brings out the spicy notes in rye whiskey while balancing it with some sweeter undertones.
  • Apple Brandy: This combo enhances the fruitiness of the brandy.

Medium-Plus Toast, Char 3 Barrel:

  • Scotch: A deeper toast and more significant char contribute complexity to Scotch-style whiskies.
  • Aged Rum: This combo can give the rum more depth and a more balanced profile.
  • Mezcal: For those interested in aging Mezcalstyle spirits, a medium-plus toast and #3 char can add a lot of intrigue without overwhelming the spirit's natural smokiness.

Heavy Toast, Char 4 Barrel:

  • Dark Rums: A heavy toast with a high char level is excellent for producing a rich, deeply flavoured rum.
  • Bold Bourbons: For a bourbon with robust flavours, a heavy toast and #4 char can bring out dark chocolate, coffee, and smoky notes.
  • Armagnac: This would add substantial body and complexity to a grape-based spirit.

As a general guide, A light toast/char will result in a softer, more delicate flavour profile, while a heavy toast/char will result in a bolder, more pronounced flavour profile. The char process involves intense heat treatment, increased levels of char will affect the richness of the spirit. On the contrary, the toasting process involves a more gradual heating process, increased levels of toast will affect the boldness of the spirit.

We also stock a range of Ex-Sherry and Ex-Bourbon barrels, which are ideal for adding an extra dimension to your whiskies, contact your local home brew store for details.

Remember, these are just suggestions, and the actual outcome can vary based on many factors like the original spirit, aging time, and environmental conditions. Feel free to experiment and find what suits your personal taste best – have fun!

Next article The Impact of Char and Toast Levels on Chemical Compounds in Oak Barrel Aging