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Patio29Dadio

Lessons in Barrel Aging

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Acquired (all taxes paid) white dog bourbon and white rum from a friendly distiller to test different small barrels and entry proofs.  Five gallon and ten gallon new oak barrels from Barrel Mill with #3 char.  After four months in the 5 gallon at 60% ABV the rum seemed to have over-extracted... the funk was resolved, but the spirit has a more bitter, acrid and sharp finish and has taken on some of the barrel char... it does not have the long rum sweet finish I would expect.  Very little vanilla and toasted brown sugar notes that I would expect from brand new barrels.   Bourbon in 10 gallon for six months is starting to give the same.  It also entered at 60% ABV.   Nose is great except for a mild charcoal hint from the barrel char (same as rum).  Color is great.  Barrels are in a storage shed with good temp swings.   Both white spirits seemed perfect to me based on my experience with the un-aged variety.  

My question is related to my barrel-aging inexperience here.  I know people are going to make the point of "see, that is what you get trying to use small barrels!"  But either the over-extraction is extreme, I have some bad barrels, or I mistaking over-extraction with under-maturation.  At this point I am just going to let it keep aging and check it every 3 weeks or so.  But hoping someone can share some knowledge of aging/maturing evolution to help me diagnose what might be happening here.

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Couple points.

I think you'll find rum in used barrels is more characteristic of the typical flavor profile of an aged rum rather than in new barrels.  Color on the new barrels is fantastic, but like you say, the oak can be very forward, especially on a 5 gallon barrel.  I've tasted some nice rums that were aged in a mix of new and used oak that I thought were very good, so it's possible.  Likewise, probably doable in a larger format barrel, where you can better control extraction vs. maturation.

Which brings me to the next point, extraction vs maturation.  On a 5 gallon barrel, extraction will outpace maturation significantly.  10g is better.  15g is better than 10g.  25/30g better yet.  

If you must work with small barrels, consider cutting the time in oak, transferring to a tank, and finish maturation in glass or stainless (yes, maturation reactions will continue).  Realize there are age-statement implications.

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13 hours ago, Patio29Dadio said:

it does not have the long rum sweet finish I would expect.  Very little vanilla and toasted brown sugar notes that I would expect from brand new barrels.  

Bear in mind that most mass-market rums have sugar added. That is why people think that rum should taste sweet, although most are unaware of the added sugar.

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I recently watched an ADI breakout session on oak barrels.  "The Extraction of Wood Compounds during Aging in Wood Barrels and in Contact with Wood Pieces"

The oak was tested and found very different from tree to tree from the same forest. From very little aging to fast aging. Could some of this play a part.

Black Swan has a aging chart for various size barrels.  https://www.blackswanbarrels.com/links-accolades/

Tim

Doc2.docx

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Jedd Hass - Thanks for the advice on the rum.  This is unaltered white rum distilled from 50% dark molasses and 50% cane sugar.  I have some left and there is a sweetness to the white rum that seems to be over-shadowed by the qualities of the aged version of itself.   

Silk City Distillers - Based on your comments, I am thinking I hit over-extraction on the small new oak barrel before I got enough maturation.  I like your idea of allowing it to sit outside of the barrel or in a used neutral barrel to see what happens.  This is a pre-distillery opening test, so I don't mind discarding the results as long as I learn something important. 

twalschact - Thanks for the reference.  I will check it out.  This gets to my concern that I have a bad batch of barrels.  However, the nose on these tests tell me that the barrel is full of the good stuff one would expect from well-kept American white oak. 

I am going with over-extraction at this point... however, I am just going to leave the bourbon in the 10G barrel and test it every month or so to see how it progresses.  I will pull a small bottle every test and label it for future reference. 

Thanks!

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Also look at different suppliers.  For us we found some barrels offer quicker extraction than others.  Depending on how you do cuts and how long you want to age this can be good or bad.  

Second use is also much slower for extraction.   Gibbs brothers seem to be slower on the extraction and may be better suited than barrel mill barrels if you need more time for maturation. 

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Spirits made for unaged consumption are also going to be made a bit different than those for aging. There a number of unpleasant compounds that react during maturation to create complex and complimentary aromas and flavors. At this stage it is probably extraction that has not been balanced by time to mellow, but don't be surprised if your product comes out a bit simple/flat compared to aged whiskies and rums from the same distillery you bought from.

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