Whiskey enthusiasts love drinking whisky in all its types and variations. From Scotch, Single Malt, and Blend to Bourbon and Rye, they simply love it all. Such are the people who are most likely to try aging whiskey at home at some point. However, this is not an easy task as it is hard to get it right initially. Here is a quick look at some basic ways you can age your spirit at home and get the desired flavor out of it.
Age It in an Oak Barrel
The most traditional and optimal way of whiskey aging at home is to barrel age it. While there are several types of barrels that you could use, purchasing a charred American white oak barrel is touted as a favorite because of its unique vanilla and smoky flavors. Around 80% of the flavor in whiskey comes from the barrels it ages in. If you are a whiskey geek and have been wondering how to age whiskey at home, then then this is your best bet. To prepare the barrel for aging, fill it with warm water to swell the wood enough and prevent your spirit from leaking during aging.
The swelling process can take after a few hours to a few days. Once hydrated, drain the water out and fill it with your unaged whiskey until it is almost full. Add some water on top to cut the alcohol’s proof down. Store the barrel in a dark environment somewhere away from the direct sun and wait patiently for a few months. Taste the whiskey as it ages. Smaller barrels age faster, whereas big barrels can even take years to age. For a one-liter barrel as an example, you will not likely be aging your spirit for more than a few weeks.
After you achieve the preferred taste, remove the whiskey from the barrel. Strain the whiskey as you pour it to remove char and wood pieces.
Use Charred Oak Wood Sticks
Adding charred American white oak sticks or shavings to a whiskey jar or bottle is one of the easiest ways to accomplish aging. These chips have an intense oak flavor with high vanilla and aromatic compounds that infuse the whiskey and contribute to its character. Cut the wood into a few thin strips as you put it inside the vessel. Store it in a dark place and wait for the whiskey to age. The longer you leave the wood chips, the more flavor and woodiness it will impart to the spirit. It is essential to open and close the vessel once in a while to allow evaporation and release trapped alcohol vapor that can produce an unwelcoming taste.
While the small container size means that it will age faster, it can still take many months to a year to achieve the desired flavor. If you cannot wait that long, then you can use a smoothing additive such as glycerin to mellow the harshness of your moonshine. Test it periodically to make sure it does not over-age. The batch will likely taste terrible and woody early on, but the pleasant flavors will eventually come out with time. Once the spirit has achieved the color and smoothness as per liking, pour it into a bottle or jar for long-term storage.
Purchase a Whiskey Aging Kit
Whiskey aging kits come with all the tools needed to age your whiskey at home like charred wood. They are a more hands-off approach to aging whiskey and work quicker than other options. You can purchase aging kits online or at some brewing supply stores; however, you will need to buy your whiskey, of course.
Add the oak staves to the unaged whiskey and store it somewhere away from direct sunlight. The whiskey will get infused with flavor as the wood expands and contracts during aging. The wood will rapidly change the whiskey’s flavor, and you will notice the whiskey change color within a couple of days. The aging period will be brief, about a few weeks or some months, after which the spirit may taste too woody. As with other methods, strain out any charred flecks of wood before drinking the whiskey.
Buying aged whiskey from brewing stores can be quite expensive, but you can achieve excellent results by aging your whiskey at home in a fraction of time. With the right techniques and a little patience, you can accomplish the desired flavors you will be proud to taste in the spirit.
Source: Upscale Living Magazine