The barrel maturation of alcohol is a most effective process that defines the taste of alcohol. The wood of the barrel imparts intricate flavors to the character of alcohol. Different barrels propose unique flavors. Most often these barrels are reconstructed before the barrels are being filled. These are milled from inside and then charred. This process help refurbish more caramel and vanilla flavor barrels for aging. The alcohol extracts complex elements of wood from oak barrels. Oak barrels are deliberated as new barrels for first 3 uses.
Different types of barrels
Mainly there are 2 types of barrels which are European oak barrels and American white oak barrels. Barrels made up of American oak wood offer caramel, vanilla, and soft and mellow flavors. Barrels made up of European oak wood offer bitter, spicy strong and wooden flavors. American oak barrels are heavily charred and are used to create smoky spirits having an inherent vanilla flavor. French oak barrels are lower in tannins. These are usually lightly charred to create spirits which are spicy and smoky.
The most popular wood used to make classic barrels is oak. It is most distinct for aging liquors. Other types of wood may impart assorted flavors. Oak has unique properties. Oakwood barrels can be frequently used with various types of spirits. It animates each batch with delicate aspects from the previous batch for a truly unique spirit. You can age almost any alcohol in oak barrels including beer, dry wine, port, sherry, tequila, brandy, rum, whiskey and many more. Even you can age balsamic vinegar and hot sauce in oak barrels if you want.
Bourbon is matured in fresh barrels and it always acquires the maximum taste from them. Oak barrels are perfect for aging whiskey. Oak is the perfect container for wine. People have stored wine in oak barrels for thousands of years. It gives appetizing flavors including butter, caramel, and vanilla to wine. Wine maturation in an oak barrel makes it unique and more interesting. Whiskey is aged in barrels in almost every country.
Mostly beer is not aged in barrels. Beer lovers can age their own beer in barrels. Beer contains lighter flavors and contains less alcohol than liquor or wine. So, they don’t take as long to age. Best way to age beer is, age it with strong flavors and high alcohol percentage. Vodka, gin, and cognac are aged in whiskey barrels. Japanese whiskey, Irish whiskey, and Canadian whiskey are best aged in wood barrels; doesn’t matter what kind of oak barrels.
Cross-reaction and oxidation occurring between various organic substances present in the alcohol lead to the formation of additional unique congeners. Combination of European oak and smoky, spicy and sweet flavors given by oloroso sherry gives rise to fine flavors in scotch. Bourbon whiskey needs new oak barrels with charred inner surfaces. Most non-whiskey and some whiskey spirits do not require fresh, unused or charred oak barrels.
Cognac supervision allows only the use of French oak barrels. These are not charred. Newly distilled cognac is kept inside new oak barrels for 16 to 18 months. A plurality of malt whiskey is aged in bourbon barrels. Only a few malt whiskeys are kept in sherry barrels. American oak barrels are quite hard so whiskey matures slowly. Spanish oak barrels contain a resin that directly affects the flavors. Sherry and bourbon both leach out stronger oak extracts and tannins, hence result in a lighter whiskey.