Oak barrel is used for infusion and storage of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as homemade preparations. Beverages, properly aged in wooden barrels, enriched with tannins and aromatic substances, have a peculiar rich taste. Long aging in oak barrels makes the drinks transparent and increases their resistance to clouding.
Wooden barrels are notable for their high strength, durability, ecological compatibility, and affordable price. Due to the high density of oak, the finished products retain their tightness for a long time. New oak barrels give the contents a unique taste, aroma, and color. If you decide to buy an oak barrel, it is worth learning more about them.
How to choose a barrel
You should buy wood barrels depending on the purpose of use. When choosing, pay attention to the variety of oak, the growing conditions of the tree. Take into account the volume of the finished container. The smaller the barrel, the more intense the aging process, the slower the evaporation of the drink. In small barrels, the product more quickly gains the desired color and flavor.
How to prepare a new barrel for use
The finished oak barrel contains a large amount of tannins. If you pour wine or distillate it into such a container, it will acquire a tart taste. Therefore, before using the barrel for the first time, it is necessary to perform a few simple procedures. Preparation includes several steps:
1. Soaking. Every 2-3 days fill the barrel with water. Each time you fill it with fresh water. After 10-15 days, taste the water, assess its condition visually. The liquid should be clear and without a wood taste.
2. Treatment. Fill the container with boiling water by ½ volume, add to it ordinary baking soda (no more than 10%). Seal the barrel, then shake or roll it so that the inner walls are completely rinsed with a warm baking soda solution. After 30 minutes, drain the liquid. Important: Waxed containers should not be steamed. If this procedure is necessary, the treatment with a natural wax (olive oil) will have to be repeated.
3. Steaming. Fill the oak wood barrel with clean hot water or steam it for 10-15 minutes. After that rinse it with cold running water.
4. Drying. Open the cork, tap. Dry the container until it is completely dry.
Until the moment of filling, the barrel should be stored in conditions close to those in which the finished drink will be infused. The need for additional manipulation (fumigation, treatment) depends on what will be stored in the cask.
Depletion of the oak barrel
During use, the concentration of extracted oak components slows down. This leads to the fact that after 6-7 cycles of aging the taste and aromatic qualities of spirits do not improve, and the cask becomes just a reliable vessel for storage. For higher quality rum or spirits and wine production, you should use oak chips of medium or strong firing. You can usually buy wood barrels with them.