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Recommend a Barrel AU

Guys looking for some input into the suitability of different aging barrels for spirit usage.

I've made some calls and emailed a couple of barrel suppliers looking to grab at least one large one for long term whiskey storage and aging, but seems there are many choices and decisions to be made, as with everything we do in this hobby of ours!

I'm looking at 225 or 300 lt barrels, cost will be between $400-$600 from the looks of it, so getting it sort of right would be a good thing.

ex wine barrels, perhaps 5 yrs old or ex port barrels up to 30 yrs, then decide on cleaned/scraped, re-chared, or even fully re-manufactured from the wood stock. Chuck in choosing from French or American oak and it gets worse.
Some suppliers even tell me they don't like to use a tap either - the brass with alcohol issue raises it head again.

I have a fair bit of product that is currently aging in 54lt demi's, using @punkin's dominoes, I've settled on a mix of his American med and French, plus I do chuck a stick or 2 of left overs from a trial and comp pack he sent out to me. (Due for another order soon, been a while)

I'm thinking that I could dilute this down to 40% and finish it off the large barrel, then top it up with newer product as its ready, to maintain a consistent "blended" supply.

My wash is malted grain, wheat, barley, small amount of corn, liquid rye malt plus sugar, a malted whiskey light bourbon hybrid.
Aim is for Canadian Club style product.

I currently use this method but storage is in a stainless keg and works out ok.

Please add your thoughts and experience, should I go with my idea or all barrel - no dominoes, perhaps just get several 100lt barrels, French or American, char level, ex wine or ex port, reco or rebuilt etc.




  • Personally if you can afford it I'd go 20L barrels in a mix of French, Bourbon, Port, Sherry, Pinot and skip the dominoes. Store at ~64% and in 2 years you'll be sitting on small batch heaven.

    I'm going down this path atm.

  • 200L virgin, charred white oak barrel. Figure 2 years minimum, 4 years or more for premium goods.
    Less than 100L for more immediate use.
    Less than 50L is a toy to play with but we do like to play and the product ain't bad at all.

    More barrels is more better.

  • Long term whisky storage I would suggest a once used American bourbon barrel, that's what most of the Scottish distilleries use, and age at 64% like mentioned earlier, you will loose alcohol as the spirit ages, if it goes in at 40% you won't be happy with the end product coming out lower than that after having to wait years for the pleasure.

  • edited March 2015

    Hi Fadge, i can recommend Roll Out The Barrel in Qld with only one reservation. That was a 20l barrel i got that made a batch of spirit taste like wood. I took it back and swapped it for a 50l.
    They assured me it had been toasted but i'm not so sure. They seemed to think it was because the 20l barrels are all new oak rather than the staves on the 50 and up being recycled oak with new ends.

    If you only want Canadian whiskey i would definitely stay away from the recommendation of a new charred oak barrel.
    Personally i would not go for a 200 +l barrel either as the sheer size and the amount of time needed is beyond the patience of most of us and you are stuck with the ageing in stainless barrels till 2030 or so.

    Long time dead mate.

    I have three 50l but the same in 100l would be excellent. If i was starting your project i would look at a 50l for short term so i had something to drink in 2 years and then go to three or four 50-100l barrels and age them. The 50l barrel works well as a solera style barrel as well as a batch style.

    I have three 50's (the Three Sisters) and send them back every 5 years or so for a recharring as they are used for bourbon. two of them atm are filled with 65% ageing away and the third is being used solera style before ageing on sticks in a 15l stainless pot to finish and add the extra vannilla that the dominos give above a barrel, in your case that would be used sticks.


    btw the fittings (tap and bung) are all stainless from ROTB.

    800 x 600 - 84K

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • +1 on Punkins comments. Bought a mexican barrel for aging mescal and its not even in the same ball park in terms of quality of product or taste. We bought some Yalumba octaves a couple of years ago, I sent them up there to be conditioned. Worth every cent I paid.

  • So Punkin, who has the keys to those locks? Did you find that the "angels" were sneaking in at night?

  • It's about safety rather than protection.

    I couldn't imagine how i'd feel if some 10-12 year old kids broke into my shed and started sculling 65-95% spirit that could end up in the utmost tragedy.

    That big metal cage is there for that reason.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @punkin said: That big metal cage is there for that reason.

    Bonded warehouse? B-)

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • Wow, I didn't even notice the cage. Guess my attention was focused elsewhere.

  • edited March 2015

    That's OK, I missed the locks too. 8-|

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I have used wine barrels from the local garden place. 220L for my rum,

    Rinse with hot water and sodium percarbonate.

    also have 4x 100L octaves housing my burbon

  • @Law_Of_Ohms said: I have used wine barrels from the local garden place. 220L for my rum,

    Rinse with hot water and sodium percarbonate.

    also have 4x 100L octaves housing my burbon

    Thanks, the only wine barrels I've used have been perhaps older and when cut in half ( for pot plants) the amount of crap and sediment stuck to the insides was incredible, not a hope in hell of cleaning without at least popping one end off.

    I have enough product on dominoes at 65% to fill a 220lt, but perhaps I'd better start asking about the 50/100lt ones. The 220/320 work out far more economical , but old mate @punkin has more experience than me with the expected aging process, year 2030 is not on my wish list just yet.


  • Make a few calls to the local wineries (if you have any nearby) for used barrels. I picked up 2x 300L french oak hogsheads for ~$140 each

    I took 1x to my local Cooper (the other is full of port) to be toasted, and cut down to 100L at a cost of $220. This maybe a bit expensive considering the cost of a new barrel, but these barrels were imported from France. I also have 2x 100L barrels (same as @Law_Of_Ohms) that he is shaving, and "charring the shit out of" for Bourbon and Whiskey at ~$100 each.

    My Cooper said it costs the same amount of money to make a 50L barrel as it does a 100L barrel. He imports loads of barrels (ex Bourbon) per year, and also has 50 and 80 year old ex-port barrels, to mix and match for his clients. Your Cooper/supplier may be able to suggest a mix of old and new oak depending on your spirit.

    I'd also recommend what @TheMechWarrior has suggested. Purchase a few small 20L barrels, and age the rest of your bulk spirit in larger barrels. This enables you to either consume your spirit early (6 months to 2 years), or blending back with a portion of your bulk spirit. Some distilleries do it this way, so I've also bought one to try. It is a mix of new, used and ex-port American oak and the smell is just mouth watering!

  • edited May 2015

    @Philter do you have a contact for your cooper?? Speaking to @punkin today he recommended rollout the barrel for bourbon barrels but said that they would likely be overpowering for the rum i want to make and suggested using a 2nd hand barrel that had been used for bourbon or similar. Having a lesser oak flavour to impart. I m after 50L size to start with to help age faster. probably 4 barrels.

  • @Johnboy My cooper is based north of Hobart, so maybe a bit out of your way? Otherwise I can pass on his details.

    If you're in SA, ring a few of the wineries and see if you can source 4x red wine hogsheads. These can be cut down to 100L or 50L barrels, but you'll only get 1x barrel per hogshead (with a few staves left over).

    Try and track down a cooper (depending on how far away you are from the winery districts), and tell them what you intend to put in your barrel so that they can prep it.

    As above, you could age most of your spirit in a large barrel, and use the smaller barrels to age some Rum earlier. Then you just blend to your liking.

  • I have a contact that can get me used octaves from Yalumba for around $60 each i believe they are 80L. He is going to ask their in house cooper what it would cost to have them prepped for bourbon or rum gotta be less that $450 from ROTB.

  • Johnboy let me know how you go with this. They will want to sell pallets. I have 2 they are excellent, sister needs a couple as well. May work out.

  • edited May 2015

    The octaves are 100l. They are good barrells. @rossco had the one i got him refurbished by rotb i'm pretty sure. Pretty sure they quoted me $70 or so.
    I''ll be sending mine up there in the next few months as i haven't used it yet.

    edit; didn't see the response. My neighbour also wants two more so i'll be interested in a bulk buy. I think they ended up at $130 each or so ex Tamworth last time.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • At that price I'll put my hand up too for a group buy

  • ill find out more by tomorrow hopefully

  • edited May 2015

    yep, +1 for group buy, I'm in for at least 2 if not 4 or me depending on pricing.

    @johnboy I was in Barrossa Valley only a few weeks ago, but was the Anzac day weekend, and just about everything was shut, plus the wife and 2 dogs in the car, so stopping to search for a cooper and barrels was never going to be easy.

    I did find a place that makes small spirit barrels, at normal pricing levels. BUT they also can recon barrels, either byo (or they supplied with fair pricing), I think perhaps they quoted me $60 or $70 for 220/320lt, perhaps they may be a option to send the octaves for clean and re-char if the in-house guys cannot do them ? I have the contact details if you need them.

    Its only a 6hr drive for me!


  • I think 100L is what I'm after. I have some 20s and the oak is a bit over powering. More than 100L and there too hard to fill.

    A good price on toasted recons would be fantastic.

  • edited May 2015

    @rossco had the one i got him refurbished by rotb i'm pretty sure.

    Yeah I have two, Kev did an awesome job with them flamed them and put in taps. At the time he commented on the quality of the kegs. Both are full atm and worth every cent of what I paid. I have to make stave rum to keep the lads out of them.

    My sister is up for two if possible, could be an excuse for a road trip.

  • Looks like i have to sign back into AHB and read my old PM's unless @Johnboy is willing to send me a PM with his location and contact details for the winemaker at Yalumba. Neighbour definitely wants two.

    I hate to sign back into the shithole there. ~X(

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  • Just logged in to AHB and went through my PM's to retrieve the contact details from last bulk buy. I feel dirty now. Going to take a shower.

    Give me a PM and we'll coordinate it @Johnboy

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Seems my contact spoke too soon as when he checked when I said Id be after about 10 they don't have any available atm. But he spoke to the cooper and he was gonna organised a price for new oak charred to suit spirits so lets see if its goes anywhere. How much were the yalumba barrels when you did the bulk buy??

  • edited May 2015

    Anyone dealt with Kevin Cooperage he has a distributer in SA. Ive sent him an email.

  • edited May 2015

    @Johnboy said: How much were the yalumba barrels when you did the bulk buy??

    Hard to remember, less than $200 inc freight? I know it was under $500 for 2 inc freight and treatment at ROTB. Talked to my sister, they are keen, happy to participate if you blokes get organised.

  • edited May 2015

    I saw in my PM's the other day a figure of $90 each for the barrels, i think that was for the guy i was talking to with his delivery though. The neighbour and i both recollect a price of $130 each at Tamworth seeming right?

    Yalumba ones only come up when they empty the wine that is in them every year or two. Some are reused, some are not i think. The Octavius is an expensive drop and the barelling would be part of that expense.

    Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz @ Dan Murphy's

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

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