Smaller Barrels Age Liquor Quicker

The Smaller The Barrel The Less Time You Need To Age The Liquor1

ller barrels age liquor quickerThere is a lot of talk about barrel sizes in the world of whiskey, especially. Many old-school whiskey lovers will say that small barrels are not good and they will point to an experiment done at a large whiskey distiller. This whiskey maker aged three different types of whiskeys in three different types of small barrels for six years. They were checked annually and the flavor didn’t stack up to big barrels. The experiment was considered a loss, but craft distillers considered it a victory.

Small distillers of spirits, or craft distillers, the equivalent of micro-breweries, usually age their product in a small barrel. The size of the barrels has a lot to do with how long the whiskey will take to soak up the flavor. Smaller barrels generally age the whiskey more quickly than larger barrels and that is why most take-home oak barrels are small. That way, the people at home can enjoy their new concoction in a matter of weeks or months, not years.

The reason for this speed is expansion and contraction. The liquor expands in the warmth, sloshes into the wood and contracts back into the barrel in the cool air. When there is less liquid, there is less of this expansion and contraction needed so the flavor jumps into the liquid very quickly.

This can yield some amazing results and small barrel agers are writing new chapters in the history of whiskey making. Small barrel aging will impart a different flavor than traditional large barrel aging. It is different than the usual which most old-school whiskey lovers scoff at. But, if you have the gall to age your own whiskey in small barrels then you can come up with a whiskey batch that tastes like none other and that is a very good thing.


  1. […] The size and age of the barrel and the style of wine desired also dictate the amount of time the wine must stay within the barrel. This is due to the ratio of volume of wine to surface area of the wood. To put it another way, if a barrel is small, the wine held within it will need to spend less time aging than the same wine would in a larger barrel. The wine in the smaller barrel achieves flavor extraction from the wood quicker than it would if the same wine was aged in a larger barrel. […]

  2. […] 24 bottles in 20 liter oak barrels, which will be enough for yourself and to share with others. The smaller barrel is best because of the smaller surface area which allows the wine to absorb the oak flavor much […]

  3. […] Agave White (Clear) tequila.  (Messicano Alteno Silver 100% Agave Azul for about $10 a liter)  I have 1 liter barrels because they take less time to age my liquor.  I poured the tequila in a barrel that previously held Irish moonshine. I didn’t want a […]

  4. […] Although a lot of individuals choose the barrel that they use based on cost, it is important to keep in mind that size also matters. While there are no set rules when it comes to how long you should age your whiskey, it is a good idea to keep in mind that smaller barrels will generally age faster than larger ones. […]

  5. […] to how long a whiskey should be aged in an oak barrel, but it is important to keep in mind that the smaller the barrel, the faster the whiskey will age. In most cases, one or two months should be adequate, but an individual can age their whiskey for […]

  6. […] with age. Because the barrels offered by Red Head are smaller than those used in large production, the liquor will age at faster rate, and be ready for you to taste in as little as a few […]

Leave a Comment