Oak Aging Brandy

I have now finished my Brandy runs and have the final collection / blend at 90% ABV, about 18L.

Do I place this in oak barrels as the strength it is or do I reduce alcohol to near finished requirement of 42%?

I have two 10L new oak barrels, so roughly how long in the barrels?

Does alcohol evaporate quicker than water ? Logic tells me it does.

My trial run last year was 5L of Brandy at 45% in small oak barrel (new) and after 8 months there was only 3.5L remaining (greedy angels I say). I will take an alcohol reading later to see what the % is after 8 months.

Comments

  • Small barrels leak like sieves. I like to oak at 65% but i haven't done a lot of brandy.

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  • As Punkin says, Oak at 60-65%. A lot of studies have been done to verify this. the amount of alcohol vs water evaporated depends on the heat & humidity. Some places loose more water, others more alcohol.

    Make sure you soak your barrels in water before using to make sure the staves swell up and seal before putting your spirit in (after draining of course).

    How long you leave it in there is up to you. smaller barrels will have a lot more effect in a shorter period of time due to the increased oak surface area in contact with the spirit. check it regularly.

  • Great, thank you. I have 2 x 10L and 2 x 5L from Barry's Barrels Auckland. One of the 5L leaked like the Hoover Dam. Even with melting half a pound of beeswax in all the cracks. BB changed that one, the other 3 are all good.

  • 65% ABV is considered ideal cask strength.

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  • after 8 months you will be happy to see any alcohol at all. The small barrels are not good for long time ageing. I would use them only for a view weeks and age in glass containers the rest of the time.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • @Sunshine, any reason stainless would not be suitable?

  • no, of course stainless too. glass is just easier because you can see the color.

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  • And harder to get the lumber out of if using 5 gal carboys.

  • @Pa_bon said: And harder to get the lumber out of if using 5 gal carboys.

    We've got that problem solved with the new 7-gallon wide-mouth glass carboys. You can reach right in and feel around for oak pieces, and your arm smells great afterwards.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • Glass cookie jars work well too for small scale.

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  • edited June 11

    Hi @Spiritintheair,

    Age brandy in glass jars get punkin to sell you some french oak staves.

    French oak will give you a little more colour and a more subtle flavour than American. Sometimes I mix the two.

    You can long term age in a barrel but I suggest you transfer to a jar and staves for finishing.

    The reason you need to do this is because you need to add sultanas or raisins a month or two before you drink it. Trust me this step will be worth it and the fruit cake afterwards will be as well.

    Rossco

  • @rossco , can you explain to me the method and reason for your addition of raisins?

    I'm fixing to age my first shot at brandy.

  • Hi PB. I never understood brandy until I started making it. The defining quality is the smell, that is why they use large glasses in your hand, to warm it up, more smell. Sultanas augment the aroma, try it you will see what I mean.

  • edited June 11

    Raisins add sugar, color, and flavor.

    Probably the single biggest factor is the sugar, which even in minute quantities can improve the spirit, reduce harshness, improve mouthfeel, and make other aromas/flavors much more apparent.

    Sultanas (Yellow/Gold Raisins) - probably the same, less of a color impact.

    In a brandy, it's going to emphasize the fruit, smooth the spirit, and add complexity.

  • edited June 11

    Raisins by weight are about 50% sugar. So adding about 10 raisins to a liter of spirit (roughly 5 grams of raisins, 2.5g of sugar), will add enough sugar to make a marked difference in perception of spirit quality (without being perceived as sweet). This is leaving everything else aside.

    Heck, 4-5 raisins per liter will be enough to hit a 1g/l sugar level, which will make a difference.

  • So @grim @rosco, a month or two with raisins or sultanas until satisfied with results then go to filtration and bottling?

    Thanks for info.

  • Thank you everyone for the input and knowledge, loving the fruit cake part and my missus will be on the case.

  • @grim, that's assuming the raisins fully dissolve. Wouldn't it be only a portion of total sugar that dissolves into the alcohol?

  • edited June 20

    Would the assumption that raisins would go in at cask strength be correct or incorrect?

  • edited June 24

    @RobertS said: that's assuming the raisins fully dissolve. Wouldn't it be only a portion of total sugar that dissolves into the alcohol?

    You are not after the sugar, they aid with the aroma, which is kind of the point of brandy.

  • @rossco Raisins go in whole? If so, won't they rehydrate and steal a little from you? On a small scale (a few gallons to experiment with) any advantage or disadvantage to chopping raisins prior to addition?

  • edited June 24

    @Pa_bon said: Raisins go in whole? If so, won't they rehydrate and steal a little from you?

    yes.

  • Reading over this again..........Would the raisins be added at cask strength?

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