Oak Aging Barrels
Whiskey Barrels for Sale | Whiskey’s Most Important Ingredient: The Oak Barrel
What makes a good whiskey? If you were to round up a dozen whiskey enthusiasts from around the world, you would likely get 12 uniquely different answers. They all have one thing in common though, they all agree that whiskey barrels for sale are one of the greatest ways to understand and appreciate whiskey.
Every whiskey starts with the same raw materials: water, barley and yeast, just like beer. These basic ingredients form the base that is responsible for ensuring the right balance. In fact, the American Distilling Institute points out that beer is a step in the whiskey-making process. Beer is another way to say, “whiskey wash.” In the simplest terms, at the stage of whiskey wash, the liquid could be distilled to make whiskey, or brewed to make beer.
Every whiskey has a story to tell that is uniquely its own, a textured tale that comes together over time as it ages in a whiskey barrel. There are over 600 species of oak trees but it’s the American White Oak that gives whiskey its unique flavor. Just as each American White Oak is its own living entity, every whiskey barrel has a unique compound of flavors consisting of lignin, lactones, and tannins.
Without time in oak barrels, whiskey would remain a fiery clear liquid, without the nutty caramel and vanilla notes we all love. The longer the liquor sits in a whiskey barrel, the smoother the flavor will become.
Anything being aged inside the American oak barrel—be it whiskey, wine or something else—will be influenced by a number of factors:
- Growth rate of the trees
- Method and length of time to dry the wood
- Toasting and charring during cooperage
- The environment inside the barrel
- Compounds in the wood
- Blends from interior charring
- The climate where the barrel is stored
DIY With Whiskey Barrels For Sale
Any whiskey or wine connoisseur knows the difference between a quality drink and one that’s low budget. There are reasons top shelf liquor commands higher prices and one of those reasons is the time it takes to make the better brands. Jameson Irish Whiskey, for example, is barrel aged for a minimum of four years, while Canadian Crown was originally sold as a 10-year aged whiskey.
You can make your own top shelf varieties of whiskey or any kind of liquor, wine or beer by buying empty small whiskey barrels for sale. At Red Head Barrels, we always have new whiskey barrels for sale and sometimes even have a used whiskey barrel for sale. Our oak whiskey barrels come in a variety of sizes—as small as 1 Liter—and will deliver top shelf results in a matter of weeks, not years.
To make your own liquor, you can start with a low-end whiskey or tequila and simply cork it in a new whiskey barrel for several weeks. Our small whiskey barrels are small enough that the surface area encounters more of the liquor inside, accelerating the process.
Another way to make premium liquor in a whiskey barrel is to start with grain alcohol and add a flavor essence made by Red Head Barrels. Here are six easy steps for DIY spirits:
- Cure your wooden barrel. Curing is necessary to get rid of any bacteria and eliminate any leaks.
- Fill the barrel about halfway with a neutral-flavored spirit such as vodka or grain alcohol for bourbon, scotch, whiskey, brandy, or vodka essences. If you want to use a rum essence, start with a clear, flavorless rum.
- Pour your flavor essence into the spirit barrel. Use one bottle of flavor essence for each liter of alcohol.
- Fill the barrel the rest of the way and place the bung in the hole on top.
- Avoid the temptation to open the barrel for two weeks.
- The fun part: taste your liquor. If you like the savor, it’s time to start drinking. If you don’t want the flavor to change, pour the liquor into a bottle. If you would like to age it further, leave it in the barrel for another week, then taste again. Once you have consumed all your alcohol, visit our website to order more essences for next time.
Why Oak Matters When Aging Whiskey (Or Any Spirit)
The American white oak barrel is what accounts for whiskey’s unique flavor profile. Due to its natural strength and durability, the American white oak is also ideal when you’re looking for wooden whiskey barrels for sale. The wood cells of white oak trees contain tyloses that make it waterproof and a large volume of medullary rays that contribute to its strength.
White oak also lets oxygen in, helping diffuse the contents. Chemical reactions change the color and mellow the flavors, just as the charring and curing add different flavor notes and affect the mouthfeel. American oak is denser than French oak and has different lactone levels. American oak also doesn’t have resin canals that can pass along unappealing flavors to maturing spirits.
American White Oak is used at most distilleries and wineries across the United States. After aging whiskey in Tennessee, and bourbon in Kentucky, American oak barrels travel over to Scotland to mature Scotch and Ireland to age whiskey. While in the U.S. whiskey is aged in only new barrels, in Ireland, used barrels are the norm.
At Red Head Barrels, our wooden whiskey barrels for sale are handcrafted by our own coopers using a medium char, which we have found is the most universal for aging spirits. We source our American White Oak from a variety of forests across the continental U.S., including California, Missouri and sometimes Kentucky.
All About The American White Oak & The Cooper
The American white oak—Quercus species—is unique to North America and is one of the most popular species in export markets from American hardwood forests. The white oak classification is the most common species group, accounting for about 33% of the American hardwood resource. The characteristics of white oaks vary depending on the where they’re grown. Southern regions grow faster and produce wood with more open grain and texture than northern regions, which have a longer growth season and produce less sapwood.
The trees are harvested in a sustainable manner that promotes regeneration. For barrel-making purposes, logs are sawed in quarters to produce staves with the maximum strength and leak resistance. This is where the cooper comes in. Coopers are the craftspeople who make the wooden barrels. When it comes to brown spirits especially, the barrel is arguably the single most important step in the production process.
Coopers date to Celtic times and were valued craftsmen in colonial America and throughout our history. The skilled coopers at Red Head Barrels make each barrel by hand and each is as unique as the tree and stave it’s built from.
If you’re looking for whiskey barrels for sale, look no further than Red Head Barrels. Our multigenerational team of professional coopers expertly handcraft our barrels by sanding and tapering the oak staves, so they perfectly fit the hoops without nails or glue. During the assembly process, the barrel is also perfectly fired with a medium char.
Each of our barrels come with a wooden spigot, bung and stand. Our oak aging barrels come in 1 Liter, 2 Liter, 3 Liter, 5 Liter, 10 Liter and 20 Liter sizes. Some of the other barrels we offer:
- Bag-n-Barrels. Pour your own wine into our bags and use our barrel as a beautiful dispenser.
- Ageless Oak Barrels. These barrels are lined on the inside with beeswax, so you can store and dispense the drinks of your choice without changing the flavor.
- Cigar Barrels. Our cigar barrels can be soaked with your favorite liquid to infuse your pipe tobacco, cigar or even a pack of cigarettes.
- Personalized Barrels. Any of our barrels can be engraved for any occasion and make great gifts.
- Decorative Barrels. We have ice buckets, vases and even man cave decor.
Anatomy Of A Whiskey Barrel
Although coopering is a complicated craft, the barrel itself is really quite simple and made up of just a few parts. First, long pieces of oak called staves are carefully crafted to make up the body of the barrel. The staves are seasoned outdoors for two or three years and then cut at an angle, arranged in a circle, and carefully bent into shape with the grain running parallel along the length of the barrel.
Timber and steel are typically the only materials allowed in barrel making. Heat and pressure from metal hoops help bend the staves into place. There is no glue or silicone, no nails or screws, only the occasional river reed to help seal the top of the barrel.
Other parts to a wooden whiskey barrel:
- Head. The flat circular top and bottom of the barrel that can be customized in any number of ways.
- Chime. The beveled edge of the barrel made up of the ends of the staves.
- Hoops. Metal parts around the barrel that hold the staves together.
- Bilge. The widest part of the barrel.
- Bung hole. The hole in one of the barrel’s staves used to fill up and empty the barrels.
- Bung. Wooden or silicone stopper used to close hermetically the bung hole.
Benefits Of Barrel Aging Beer And Wine (Or Anything)
Whiskey barrels are most associated with aging whiskey and other brown spirits, but barrel aging is growing in popularity among wine and beer drinkers. Because wooden whiskey barrels are crafted with minimal toasting of the wood, barrel aged wines develop hints of clove, cinnamon and allspice. When sipped, people notice caramel, vanilla and even buttery flavor notes.
While wine is aging in the barrel, the oak slowly imparts its flavors and colors. A white wine will take on a darker yellow; red wine will deepen in hue. In terms of flavors, vanilla is usually most prominent, along with hints of mocha, caramel, toffee and honey.
The surge in craft brewers, particularly India Pale Ales, has made barrel aging beer more popular. Time in the barrel causes the bitterness of hops to softens and malt to intensify. Sherry-like notes develop over time making for a complex and unique flavor.
Sometimes, beer is purposely aged in barrels that once housed wine, rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, and other spirits. This not only imparts the unique characters of the oak, but the flavor of what has previously in the barrel.
If you’re looking for whiskey barrels for sale, you might not have considered the many things you can do with that barrel aside age liquor, wine or beer. Foodies, chefs and hobbyists have been experimenting with barrels for years to enhance the flavor of pickles, peppers, condiments, sauces—even ice cream.
Charred barrels produce the best barrel aged food, and a barrel that formerly contained spirits can give you an even more interesting flavor enhancement. Try our specialty barrels:
- Kombucha Barrels. Try a barrel for your next batch of kombucha and you’ll be surprised at how much stronger and tastier it is.
- Pickle & Hot Sauce Barrels. Chefs and gourmands have been elevating the flavors of pickles and hot sauces for years—now you can too.
The Red Head Barrel Difference
Red Head 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 whiskey 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.
All of our Oak Aging Barrels are handcrafted and made of white oak, a standard because of their strength. They also have adequate sugar content and other properties that make them excellent choices for storing and aging tequila, bourbon, rum, wine and whiskeys, besides other types of alcoholic beverages. 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 whiskey aging barrel is perfectly charred during assembly. This charring process caramelizes the sugar in the wood and this is what gives the stored spirits the caramel character as well as the essence of sweet vanilla. Each oak aging barrels comes with a wooden spigot, a bung, a stand and a medium char.