Frequently Asked Questions
ALL orders ship within 2-3 business days AFTER artwork approval (artwork proofs by request only). Custom artwork takes 1-2 business days to complete and send to you for the first draft. If you require a proof for custom engraving please let us know by checking the appropriate box when you check out. Once the order is shipped via Fedex or USPS it should be to your destination within 1-4 days depending on where you are in the country. We do offer expedited shipping. You can choose that on the shopping cart product pages.
Don’t be alarmed if you pour water in your barrel and it leaks. Almost EVERY BARREL LEAKS when you first pour liquid in it. The wood has to soak up the water/liquor and it swells against the hoops to seal itself. It just takes time. Smaller barrels could take up to a few days and the larger barrels could take a week. Normally it won’t take that long but please allow at least 5 days before contacting us about a leaking barrel. We don’t suggest curing your barrel with liquor since it could leak out and let’s face it…water is cheaper than liquor.
Don’t worry. The hoops are not held on the barrel with glue or nails so they could fall off during shipping. If a hoop falls off just slide it back in place and tap it down so it is secure in the proper place on the barrel. Once you cure the barrel it will swell against the hoops and they should all stay in place.
How does an oak barrel age spirits?
Beverages aged in wooden barrels take on some of the compounds in the barrel such as the vanillin and wood tannins. As the barrel “breathes” the alcohol passes back and forth through the charring causing the impurities to be filtered out into the wood leaving you with a smoother end result.
What are the barrels made from?
We begin and end with premium quality American White Oak, same as most distilleries and wineries use. Our stock is made using a medium char as we find this to be the most universal for aging spirits.
Where does the wood come from?
Our wood comes from a variety of sources across the continental US including California, Missouri and sometimes Kentucky
Who makes the barrels?
We employ a Cooper (barrel maker) to make each and every one of our barrels to the specifications that we require and the quality that is expected of American made products.
Can I special order a barrel with no finish or a different char?
Yes you can, they take some lead time as we add them to the production line. We can produce a no char barrel, a heavy char barrel or even a barrel with no finish on it. These orders need to be placed on the phone or in person not online.
- Start by rinsing out your barrel three or four times to get any wood debris out.
- Now insert the spigot on the front of the barrel and tighten by hand to secure the spigot.
- Then fill your barrel full of HOT water keeping it full until any leaking ceases. This may take as little as one minute or as long as a week.
- Once the barrel is holding water for 3-5 hours, turn the spigot to the on position and turn the barrel upside down and empty the water using the bung hole
- Let the barrel sit with the bung hold pointing down for about 3 hours to get a surface dry (this way you will not be watering down your spirits)
- Lastly place on the stand with the bung hole up and fill with your liquor flavoring kit or favorite spirit, place the bung and now the hard part……waiting!
Why is curing the barrel important?
True barrels like ours are held together by pressure not glue or nails, if you do not cure your barrel the spigot will be lose and it will leak on you until it swells from the spirit. Since the wood absorbs some of this curing it also helps make certain you lose less the first few uses.
How should the barrel be stored while aging?
Barrels are best kept in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. If you live in an extremely dry climate you may want to wipe it with a damp cloth once a week to help hydrate from the outside as well, helping to lessen evaporation. Make sure you keep water in them if you are not aging spirits so they stay together.
Can I keep it in the fridge or freezer?
First these look way too cool to keep hidden away in a fridge or freezer. But secondly and more importantly when you put wood in a cold environment you increase the likelihood for bacteria or mold growth. Lastly warmth helps speed the aging process so cold slows it down.
How many times can I use my barrel?
You can use your barrel with proper care for many years, so how many times depends on how long you age each batch. The actual effectiveness of the aging ability of the barrel will diminish over time.
I left my barrel dry for an extended time. Now it leaks… what do I do?
You can try to re-cure the barrel understanding that it may take even longer to cure it this time, and is also done best with boiling water this 2nd time around. Sometimes submerging it can help as well, only you must understand it won’t look as pretty after that. In some cases it will seal almost entirely but will have a small leak along a seam, if that happens try some barrel wax! Each time you let the barrel dry out it’s harder on the barrel itself so make sure you keep water in it this time!
What sizes do you have?
We offer 6 sizes of our standard barrels; 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 and 20 Liters
What size is best for me?
That depends on what quantity you drink and what you will be aging.
1L holds slightly more than 750mL (fifth)
2L holds slightly more than 1.75mL (1/2 gallon)
3L holds close to a gallon
5L holds approximately 1 ½ gallons
10L holds just over 2 ½ gallons
20L holds just over 5 ¼ gallons
Do you guarantee that the barrel works?
Check the history of oak aging barrels! Barrels have been used for centuries, untraceable actually. However oak barrels have been prevalent for at least two THOUSAND years in wine making. You could argue that but really if it’s worked for that many years oak barrels must be doing something right. Check our data to see the comparison of a small barrel to a full sized barrel too!
How often do I clean my barrel?
With wine you want to clean at least every other use, with your spirits you don’t need to clean it at all. Although it doesn’t hurt it to run some cleaner and sanitizer through the barrel every now and then though.
FULL CLEANING KIT INSTRUCTIONS
Dissolve the Oxy San into 1 U.S. gallon (3.8 L) of warm water. Fill the barrel with this cleaning solution and soak for 1 day. Empty the barrel and rinse three times with hot water. Dissolve the citric acid into 1 gallon of warm water. Fill the barrel with this citric acid solution and soak for 1 day. Empty the barrel and rinse three times with hot water.
Barrels must be stored wet to prevent them from drying out and becoming unusable. However if you just use water to store them with then you will develop a mold and mildew problem. To keep the mold from growing inside just crush 1 campden tablet (1 tablet good for up to 4 liters of water) inside the water and that will protect your barrel from growing mold.
STERILIZING INSTRUCTIONS (TABLETS ONLY-best used for wine)
Crush 1 campden tablet into a gallon of warm water. Fill the barrel with this solution and let it sit for 12-24 hours. Empty the barrel and fill again with wine, there is no need to rinse!
If a sticky residue forms anywhere on the outside of your barrel, this is perfectly normal. When the alcohol gives up the “Angels Share” or evaporates, the sugars from the alcohol are left behind leaving a sticky molasses like residue. You can leave it on the barrel and it will act as a natural sealant, or you can wipe it off with a hot wash cloth.
How do I store my barrel for extended periods of un-use? Store filled with filtered or distilled water (make sure you check it every few months to see if it needs to be topped off).
Before using again flush with hot water and use our sterilizing tablets to make certain it’s clean and ready for your spirits.
What ages in an oak barrel?
Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, Tequila, Rum, Cognac/Brandy, Port, Sherry and dry Wines; and if you make your own hot sauce, Tabasco sauce, balsamic vinegar, barbeque sauce or beer these can be used to age those as well.
How long do I age my spirits?
The best thing about having your own barrel is it is age to taste! The only rule we ask you follow is the first 3-4 times you use the barrel you want to start tasting at around 14 days (you can wait a little longer on the larger barrels) and when you have it where you like it, bottle it and start another batch. Because they age so quickly you can over oak something the first few uses. After that the longer you leave it the better and better it will get!
Do smaller barrels age the spirits faster than large barrels?
Yes! A whole lot faster……this can be proved with Geometry! The six sizes we offer age anywhere from 2 times faster to 6 ½ times faster. Below is a list of number of days it takes to get 1 year of aging in a full sized barrel.*
1L = 58 days 2L=80 days 3L=90 days 5L=105 days 10L=134 days 20L=173 days
Make sure you age to taste the first few batches so you don’t over oak your spirits!!!
*more information on surface area compared to a full sized barrel can be found under our measurements tab
Liquor Flavoring Kits…
Explain how vodka or moonshine becomes whiskey, bourbon and more…
Anytime you distill a grain you get ethanol; whether it comes from wheat, rye, corn, sugar cane, or potatoes. It is an odorless, colorless alcohol typically at an 80 proof when you purchase at the liquor store. Distilleries will then add their flavorings, herbs and spices to get the taste they want. When you use a bottle of Red Head Barrel Liquor Flavoring (essence) in conjunction with one 750mL – 1Liter of neutral grain (ethanol) and let it age in the barrel you will create the spirit of your choice. When flavoring rum if you start with inexpensive light rum you get a slightly better taste for the rum as it is sweeter since rum is distilled from sugar and that is sweeter. Also most American made vodkas are made from corn or rye and not potatoes.
Will I get a better result with higher end vodka?
No, actually many of the higher end vodka’s have a mild flavor to them which will affect the end result of your liquor batch. We recommend inexpensive “well” vodka’s such as Taaka or Kirkland’s brand