How to Cure Your Barrel:
There is no glue or nails are used in the making of our barrels. As such, barrel preperation called "curing" is required prior to use. This process serves two functions;
1. Allows the barrel to swell to prevent leaking.
2. Limits the amount of alcohol absorbed by the barrel. Start by placing the appropriate number of storing tablets in the barrel and filling the barrel with boiling or hot water. Allow it to soak for 3 to 5 days. Water may leak from between the staves or at the barrel head seam. This is normal and will stop within 24 hours as the wood swells. Barrels that do not leak should still be cured for 3 to 5 days. This will minimize the amount of alcohol absorbed by the barrel staves. After curing the barrel, empty the solution and rinse with hot water 3 times. Now fill the barrel with your spirits and place the bung in tightly and Enjoy!
How to Properly Store Your Barrel:
When storing your barrel between uses, always keep the barrel filled with a sterilized water solution. This will keep the barrel from drying out and keep bacteria from growing in the barrel. We suggest using Swish Barrel Storing Tablets. Swish Barrel Storing Tablets are pre-measured doses of sulfites formulated to kill bacteria and inhibit the growth of wild yeast and microbes in the barrel. When storing or cleaning your barrel between uses, dissolve the appropriate quantity of tablets in water. Pour mixture in the barrel and fill completely with additional water. Store in cool damp conditions if possible. Rinse 3x prior to use. Sanitize your barrel with a Swish Barrel Cleaning Kit after 2 or 3 uses.
How to Properly Clean Your Barrel:
Barrels should be cleaned after every 2 or 3 aging batches or when changing from spirit types. To clean the barrel, use a Swish Barrel Cleaning Kit and follow these directions: Barrel Cleaning Instructions: 1. Dissolve the Barrel-Kleen into 1 U.S. gallon of warm water. Fill the barrel with this cleaning solution and soak for 24 hours. Empty and rinse 3 times with hot water. 2. Dissolve the Neutralizing Acid into 1 gallon of warm water. Fill the barrel with this neutralizing solution and soak for 15 minutes. Empty and rinse the barrel 3 times with hot water. 3. To re-char the barrel interior, drain the barrel for 3 hours. Place a butane torch in the bung and spigot hole and re-char the inside. 4. When storing the barrel or prior to re-use, dissolve the 2 sterilizing tablets in 1 gallon of cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution. Swish around for a few minutes and rinse 3 times with hot water. To prevent the barrel from drying out and minimize the possibility of contamination, barrels should always be stored full with spirits or sterilizing solution.
Common Questions About Barrels:
1. How many times can I use my barrel? With proper care, you can use your barrel for 8 to 10 years. Following the cleaning and re-charing instructions will insure a long life for your product and be sure to not let your barrel dry out.
2. I left my barrel dry for an extented time. Now it leaks... what do I do? In many cases just re-cure the barrel. If it continues leaking, submerge the barrel in water for a couple of days. After it's been submerged, dry the exterior with a towel and fill it with water to see if it continues to leak. If so, find the leak and apply barrel wax to the hole... If you can't stop the leaking... cut in half and use as a planter!
3. How often do I clean my barrel? When aging hard spirits such as whiskey, rum or tequila, clean the barrel after two or three batches (or every 1 to 2 years). For wine, cider, liquor or other low alcohol content spirits, clean after each batch.
4. How do I store my barrel? When storing the barrel fill the barrel with a mixture of sterilizing tablets and cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution and leave in a cool damp place until you are ready to use again.
5. How long do I age my spirits? There's no formula for the perfect time to age your spirits. Age to taste! We suggest you taste your spirits every week and once aged to YOUR taste, start drinking or move it to a glass bottle to stop the aging process.
6. Do smaller barrels age the spirit faster than large barrels? Yes. Due to the greater surface or contact area ratio, small size barrels will age 5 to 10 times faster then your standard 55 gallon barrel. These means that one month in a small barrel will produce the equivalent aging to 1 to 1 1/2 years in a full size barrel.