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Oak Barrel Rotation

Lets assume you have 2 barrels, American oak medium charred, about 5.5 gal / 20L each.

One has been filled with 75 ABV rum for 9 months and the rum is ready, what product would be best for aging in this barrel now that the rum is finished?

The other barrel has been filled with 80 ABV bourbon for 8 months and you expect to pull the bourbon in a couple of months and maybe finish in glass carboys with maple or French oak dominoes. I guess rum would be a good product to refill the second barrel with, but any other suggestions?

Thanks, Hooch.



  • edited January 2014

    Scotch for the bourbon barrel :)

  • Thanks @Duck0fDeath, scotch is definitely one I would consider or rum... but I am kinda stumped on the rum barrel.

  • One suggestion is to start a solara method with the rum barrel but I am not sure I would be willing to do that, it's a continuing process that I would rather avoid. I was hoping for something simple, fill it and let it sit.

  • A brandy would work, i have filled rum barrels with ujsm to no adverse affect. Scotch would work as would a rye. Apple cider would be brilliant.

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  • Thanks @punkin i was wondereing about Rye since it is on my sights in the near future. just gotta figure out a way to come up w some good Rye to invest the time and effort. Personally, my advise to anyone looking into buying oak barrels, yes they are cool and they do make a nice conversation piece, but as far as worhtyness, I would say oak on glass carboys, cheaper to get into, then when u r done wash rinse ad start a new venture. Oak barrells are really not worth the money in my/our system/application. What say u? Thanks, Hooch

  • I use three 50 litre ones exclusively for ujsm with the occasional rum thrown in for 12 months. We try to keep the ujsm in there for 3 years and then finish on dominoes. I'm very happy and wish i had a couple more to make the ageing easier.

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  • ok @punkin give us the scoop on "the apple cider would be brilliant" please keep me from bashing my head into a smitherines... :D I am all ears specially coming from u.

  • Just sounds to me like an oak aged cider would be fantastic in a used rum barrel, no particular basis except imagination. I have a 100l ex red wine barrel empty here that i am hoping to fill with fermented cider this year.

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  • I hope I can post this before Punkin gets a chance to answer because I tend to do a lot of research, on this site ant a multitute of other sites available, and I have seen him posting since, well circa 2007 or even earlier. I am learning and anything he can tell me I trust is a true blood answer. I find this priceless, for everything else there is MasterCard :-c You are truly an asset to this forum and SD and personally want to thank you.

  • Thanks for the kind words mate. I was given the gift of information on this subject and just like to pay that back as far as i am able. I'm not doing a lot of distilling atm or new experimental stuff, she's trying to drink through the stocks we already have :))

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  • Papa's Pilar does a blond rum with what I assume is a spent barrel. They may have blended it that way but I am imagining what I would do.

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  • @captainshooch, I'd poke a few new charred oak sticks into the bung hole of the 'spent' barrel and use them for rum until they fell apart after 20 to 30 years.

    I STRONGLY suspect a bouquet garni would make the big difference (some say pineapple but I say 1/2 a clove and a piece of cinnamon). Up to you for the secret ingredients though.

  • scottish rum?

    sell to a homebrewer and buy a new one.. rum barrel beer is HUGE...

    fill with water (water not a solvent like alcohol is, so really does not take anything of value out while filled with water..)

    make into furniture

    cut up into dominoes...

  • I like the "sell it to home brewer" idea. Thanks @CothermanDistilling

  • Took some toasted dominoes and charred to what I think resembles a # 4 char to add to the rum barrel for round 2. What do you all think about the level of charring?



    800 x 600 - 49K
    800 x 600 - 49K
  • Thanks @Lloyd now i have a better idea for what "alligator char" stands for

  • The one in the middle, top picture, that looks completely burnt is my favorite if it still has some solid wood in the middle.
    Bottom picture with the chunk sitting on top showing solid wood but completely blackened surface is what I try for. Gets an amber color into the spirit quickly with less chance of an over-oaked taste in my opinion.

  • @Lloyd the one in the middle top pic does indeed still has a lot of wood in the middle and I plan on using similar ones. Surprising how the outside can look like the stick is burnt and rendered useless but oak is pretty tough and the middle looks almost intact.

  • whats time average on maceration? how do you figure the wood to spirit ratio? what type of oak have you used?

  • That is something I am still experimenting and learning. Bourbon has been in a medium charred american oak barrel for 8 months and I am going to pull it out into a glass carboy and finish with this heavy charred sticks and maybe some cherry wood as well and just add a few sticks per gallon go by taste and time.I t will be a learning process for me. @punkin can prolly tell us more about his methods. The size of the barrel has a direct effect on how quick it ages, smaller barrels seem to help age quicker and he's had some aging for around 3 years...How about it Punkin.

  • edited January 2014

    I try to keep my ujsm for 3 years or so in the barrels. I send them away for recharring every few iterations.

    I then take it into the house where Borbon Girl takes over. Sh has a 10l stainless ageing container and some 4l glass ones. She puts a handfull of heavy toast/char and medium toast sticks in the jars and gives it 2-4 of weeks before tipping in the stainless barrel to top it up. This has sticks in it too and stays as a solera typ arrangement drawing off a bottle at a time and cutting to 40% from the 65% at bottling time. The dominoes last for many iterations and every now and then she will add a couple till the jar gets too full and then we will empty it and use the dominoes in the smoker. They last a long time that way.

    My neighbour would be a better one to ask as he runs a specific ageing system from his barrels through 50l kegs adding wood and cutting proof at certain ages etc. I'll ask him to write down his method for me.

    We are pretty random here.

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  • I wish there was an economical/effective way to send my little barrels out for re-charring, prolly cost me as much as a new one but what I have figured out is most small barrels available in the US are only medium char, so you would think adding charred dominoes or finishing in glass carboys with the charring level you prefer is the more cost effective solution. I started an experiment a while back and prolly used too much wood/volume of liquid but it did work rather fast and helped me determine which I liked best between, toasted, charred or toasted and charred. Personally, charred done it for me. I am now in the process of exposing to pure oxygen once a month to see how that affects the aging process. Read somewhere about oxygen helping with the development of vanillins and such. Like I said it is just an experiment, just hope it turns out on the rather palatable side and soon I will be dropping the ABV from 60 to 50 for a while then to 40 as I have also read this helps the overall development of desired flavors. Whew. I hope I dont screw this up, it has been a long time in the making.

  • @captainshooch you bring up a point that I would like some feedback on and maybe this should be a new thread. Where does everyone cut their abv to prior to oaking. You mentioned starting at 60 with your target at 40 in a barrel. Well in another vessel, say a carboy using chips or dominoes, one might shoot for a different starting point depending on what they are looking for in their final product when considering oaking time and abv lost. Just curious what vessels people are using and what works good for them.

  • Good point @fnulnu I would like to hear about it as well.

  • I agree and it deserves its own thread.
    I've been pretty happy with filling 10 or 15L jars with 65% ABV and tossing in charred American oak.
    It is a bit haphazard because I don't weigh the wood.
    It never seems to last long enough to fully develop though :(
    About the time it's "good enough" it's gone.

  • edited January 2014

    @Lloyd said: It never seems to last long enough to fully develop though :(
    About the time it's "good enough" it's gone.

    Seems to be quite an Angels' Share problem over there in China ... =))

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