Smaller Barrels Age Liquor Quicker
There 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.