White Oak Barrels Add a Touch of Taste to Everything

There are not many containers or vessels as useful, versatile and unique as the American White Oak barrel. Barrels are most commonly associated with making whiskey or bourbon and pictured as oversized drums lined up in mills and distilleries. But making whiskey and bourbon are just two of the many uses for a white oak barrel—albeit those are probably the most important ones!

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It’s safe to say that most everyday drinkers agree with alcohol aficionados that spirits—and even beer and wine—taste like top shelf quality after spending time in a barrel. But the American white oak barrel is actually THE secret ingredient when it comes to improving everything from pickles and kombucha to vinegar, worcestershire sauce and so much more.

American white oak barrels impart a distinct flavor you won’t find from any other ingredient or methodology. The magic of time in a barrel joining forces with different ingredients works all kinds of magic. You’ll notice delicate hints of vanilla, honey and coconut and an overall elevation of flavors. Sugars and spices pop and demand to be noticed and you’ll find that no matter what you are aging or brewing, it will taste better than it ever has before.

White oak barrels are also quite decorative, either functioning as intended or repurposed as decor, mugs, vases and more. Rustic and charming and 100 percent handmade by our own barrel makers—Coopers—you really can’t get a more functional American conversation piece than a white oak barrel.

Red Head Oak Barrels are handcrafted using the finest premium white oak to produce barrels for aging spirits, wine, beer and just about anything else you can think of. We source our American White Oak from a variety of forests across the continental United States, including California, Missouri and sometimes Kentucky. Our Coopers are American craftsman dedicated to excellence in this time-honored field.

A Quick Intro to White Oak Barrels, Whiskey and Bourbon

The American White Oak is known to bring out and complement whiskey’s finest flavor notes although other woods such as maple and hickory are sometimes used. White oak is not just known to elevate whiskey; tequila, rum, and even beer and wine are also improved by aging in a wooden oak barrel.

But whisky or whiskey—with or without the “e”—is not the elixir everyone knows and loves until it spends time in an American White Oak barrel. There are barrel requirements concerning how alcohol becomes whiskey and it all depends on the country of origin. That is where the spelling differences come in as well.

The countries that prefer to keep the “e” both have an “e” in their name. Those that choose to spell it without the “e” don’t have an “e” in their names. Hence, America and Ireland both keep the “e” while Canada, Scotland and Japan all drop the “e.”

In the United States, Scotland and Ireland, whiskey and bourbon can only be called such if a genuine American White Oak barrel is used for the aging process. Other regions allow variations in the type of wood used. Canadian and Japanese whiskey, for example, only require that wooden barrels be used, not necessarily oak.

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Congress declared bourbon “America’s Spirit” in 1964 and, according to the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, bourbon whiskey must be produced from a fermented mash of at least 51 percent corn. Kentucky produces 95 percent of today’s bourbon.

Some rules and regulations:

  • Bourbon legally has to be aged in a charred new oak barrel
  • Whiskey is aged in used bourbon barrels
  • Scotch is aged in used whiskey barrels
  • Rum is aged in used Scotch barrels
  • Tequila is aged in just about any old barrel

It takes at least 30 years for a White American Oak tree to reach full growth and maturity and only fully mature trees make the best wooden barrels for aging liquor. White oak has a tight grain that prevents leaking and can be bent by heat without splitting. It is porous and allows oxygen in and out of the cask. The oak is also full of naturally occurring oils called vanillins and  naturally occurring chemicals called tannins. As the spirits age, the oils are drawn out of the wood and over the maturation period they add to the liquor’s flavor profile.

Work Liquor Wizdardy With White Oak Barrels and Fusions

If you’re planning to make liquor at home you don’t have to worry about any particular aging or barrel requirements. In fact, you can rest assured that as long as you’re starting with a white oak barrel, you’re going to enjoy improved liquor quality no matter what you put into the barrel (or how you spell whiskey).

Let’s say you want to try your hand at making bourbon. Red Head Barrels has liquor making kits that will help even a complete novice turn out exceptional liquor. All you need to get started are any of our flavor essences, the neutral-flavored alcohol of your choice (from your local liquor store), and one (or more) of our authentic oak aging barrels.

Our essences are perfect for experimenting to find your favorite flavors. We offer:

Our barrels come in a wide variety of sizes, starting with our one liter. For home use, large is in the range of 20 liters, and once you have your recipe mastered, it is mighty nice to have that big barrel of whiskey or rum aging by your home bar.

But there are distinct advantages to going with something smaller, like our popular two liter barrel. For starters, the aging process is faster—up to six times faster—with a smaller barrel. There are other advantages too:

  • Enhanced flavors. The ratio of interior barrel surface area to stored volume makes for stronger favor notes of vanilla, spice and oak in a shorter time.
  • More experimentation. Less is more when it comes to trial and error. If you’re not happy with your batch, you’re not stuck with volume.
  • It’s portable. You can easily move a 2 liter or even a 5 liter barrel from the kitchen to the rec room. A 20 liter might take a bit of muscle. Smaller barrels also fit better into tight spaces.

Spirits age the same way inside a small barrel; the only difference is time.

Make an Impact With a White Oak Barrel

Aside from aging spirits, wine and beer, oak barrels make great gifts as well as decor. Sometimes it’s impossible to find a present for someone who has everything or decide on that perfect “look” for a recreation room, bar, man cave or she shed. At Red Head Oak Barrels we have solutions for everyone on your gift list no matter what the occasion and decorating items that are functional and fun.

  • Personalization. Our barrels can be personalized in many ways, reflecting your name, favorite team or special occasion—we can engrave almost anything you want.
  • Functional. We also have ageless wooden barrels coated on the inside with beeswax. These lined barrels work great as a dispenser and won’t change the taste of the beverage you put inside it.
  • Easy. We have white oak barrels pre-infused with your favorite liquor for simple and fun experimentation. We cure the barrel with the liquor flavor of your choice, giving you an opportunity to experiment with flavors you have never tried before. For example you could order an oak barrel that has been infused and cured with Irish whiskey and then age your own homemade version with our Irish whiskey essence and vodka. This eliminates the need to cure your barrel. All you do is pour your liquor in and let the aging process work its magic.

As far as white oak barrel gifts, we think everything is suitable for everyone but to make it easy, we broke our top selling gifts into categories. Feel free to be creative and click around—we really do have something for everyone.

Get Your Oak Barrel On (the Floor, the Door, Everywhere)

So you have this great man cave or she shed and now you have to fill the walls and counters. Or maybe your playroom is graduating to a gameroom and needs a new vibe. Whatever the reason is that you need a fresh look and new decor, white oak barrels make great accents.

At Red Head Oak Barrels we have a wide range of barrel head signs that can also be customized to reflect your personal style. Barrel Head Bottle Holders looks great on any wall and show off a prized bottle of wine. Our Bag N Barrel sets dispense your wine without changing the flavor and our Wine Making Kit not only looks great on your bar or counter, you’ll age some impressive tasting vino.

Of course any of our oak barrels look great and can be used to age just about anything you can dream up. But if you’re not sure you want to jump into aging spirits, wine, beer or hot sauce, white oak barrels make great beverage dispensers when properly lined and they also have a variety of other uses. Our used 53-gallon casks, for example, are repurposed in the most ingenious of ways, from kitchen tables to bathroom sinks.

The Red Head Barrel Difference

Red Head Oak Barrels sells handmade American oak barrels specially designed for aging and mellowing rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, brandy, wine, beer and more. Proprietor Steve Mayes—AKA Red—experimented with barrel aging for many years before opening Red Head Oak Barrels in 2013.

A U.S. Navy Veteran, his business philosophy is to over-deliver and give his customers more than they expect. A Baton Rouge native living in Dallas for over 25 years, Red Head Barrels believes in “lagniappe,” an expression in Louisiana that means “a little extra.”

We have a variety of recipes and liquor making kits so you can turn ordinary spirits into top shelf liquor for a fraction of the price. Make your own flavored Canadian, Kentucky, Tennessee, or Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, Spiced Rums, and more at home for about $10 a fifth.

We have hundreds of 5-star reviews and stand behind every product we make. A multi-generational team of professional expert coopers make our wooden staved vessels by sanding and tapering the oak staves so that they fit the hoops perfectly without nails and glue. The oak aging barrel is perfectly charred during assembly and each comes with a wooden spigot, a bung and a stand. Call us with any questions you have at 469-969-0449 or see our website for more information.

Humans have been aging liquor in oak barrels for centuries. Oak is the perfect wood for aging spirits because of the flavors and aromas infused in to the drink. Oak also imparts new flavors into the spirit that gives the drink more body, flavor and smoothness. Oak is a reactive container that will react with whatever is put into it and, lucky us, that is reacts well with our favorite liquors.

Get out there and have fun infusing new flavors into your favorite Scotch, Whiskey, Cognac, Rum, Tequila, Bourbon, Brandy, or Wine.