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You must know how passionate we are about our barrels at Rocky Mountain Barrel Company.
We’re all ears when it comes to used bourbon barrels, whiskey, wine, and rum barrels.
And with the need to share our knowledge base with you, we’re back again with a comprehensive guide.
This time around, we thought it would be perfect to talk about the bourbon barrel.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of it, let’s clear out the basics.
We’re sure you know what bourbon is, but for our satisfaction, hear us out.
What is Bourbon?
Made primarily from corn, bourbon is a type of American whiskey. It’s a distilled liquor that has been aged in a brand-new barrel.
The earliest known distillery for bourbon is known to be in present-day Kentucky, and even today, it is said that most bourbon is produced in this region.
We must say that bourbon can be produced in different locations, apart from Kentucky, and still be called authentic or original.
To calm your fire of other questions about bourbon and bourbon barrels, take a look at these FAQs.
Interesting Facts about Bourbon
- To everyone’s surprise, the name comes from French royalty who came to power in the 16th century, the House of Bourbon.
- Thomas Jefferson gave away 60 acres of real estate in Kentucky in the 1780s to grow crops of native origin.
- You must use at least 51% of corn to make bourbon; anything less than that cannot be considered bourbon.
- No one really knows who created bourbon.
- You can only age bourbon in new charred bourbon barrels to give it the awesome aroma and flavor we all love! This is known as straight bourbon.
- To create a unique or desired taste profile of a batch of bourbon, it will be aged in selected barrels in small batches.
What are Bourbon Barrels or Bourbon Casks?
The first thing we must understand about barrels and casks is that all barrels are casks, but not all casks are barrels.
If we were to make a simpler comparison, then we’d say all squares are rectangles, but all rectangles are not squaring.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we must understand that casks are super important when it comes to adding that flavor profile to your spirit.
Specifically for the beverage industry, a barrel is supposed to be a 50–53-gallon (180–200 liter) cask. Ideally, it should be made with white oak.
A wide range of flavors can come from used bourbon barrels such as coconut, vanilla, and oak. These are the strongest when charred and used to age bourbon.
After the aging process, which is at least two years, these need to be replaced to age a new batch of whiskey.
That’s the law.
Life of a Bourbon Barrel
Just because a barrel can only be used once in the bourbon distillery does not mean that it will end up in the landfills.
Barrels have a lifespan of about 60 years, so you better know that they’ll be used elsewhere.
There are multiple opportunities for barrels in the age of reusing, recycling, and repurposing. If you were to look up wine aged in bourbon barrels right now, we’re sure you’d be amazed.
In fact, if you were to plan a wedding décor based on barrels, that would be possible too! Check it out.
Coming back to the point, here’s a list of things that can be done with used bourbon barrels:
- Make furniture
- Brew beer
If you’re looking to brew your own beer, then you can get used bourbon barrels for brewing from Rocky Mountain Barrel Company. We’ve got a great collection to offer!
- Age wine, rum, Scotch, and tequila
- Create personalized merch
- Use it for rainwater harvesting
If you want to know how that’s done, we got you!
- Add flavor to teas, jams, syrups, honey
- Adding hints of bourbon to coffee by storing green and unroasted coffee beans in used bourbon barrels
- Aging cacao nibs in barrels to create a unique flavor profile in chocolate
Size of an Average Bourbon Barrel
In most American distilleries, you’ll find the white oak bourbon barrel to be about 53 US gallons or 200 liters. The oak for these barrels is sourced from the central belt of the United States. They’ve been toasted over an open fire to give them their charred effect.
Around the state, you may find that distilleries transfer their bourbon to different barrels to give them a finishing flavor.
Using a Bourbon Barrel Only
Made from white oak or Quercus alba, the barrels used to age bourbon come from trees that are at least 90 years old.
If you were to look at the cellular structure of the wood, you’d observe bubble-like cell structures. These are known as tyloses that block water movement.
Naturally, the wood becomes watertight.
This makes white oak charred barrels perfect for aging bourbon.
Details about Aging Bourbon
If you were to decide against aging your spirit in a new charred American white oak barrel, it wouldn’t be called bourbon.
Again, this is the law.
An otherwise neutral and harsh grain spirit would not become its charming self and cost a couple of hundred dollars a glass without being aged in a fine bourbon barrel.
The charring of the barrel gives bourbon its unique flavor profile and mellows down the original harshness.
But if you were to age bourbon in an already used barrel, it won’t be a success.
On the other hand, you could make use of an old bourbon barrel to age other spirits, wines, and brew beers.
How Long Should Bourbon be Aged
You’ll find bourbons as young as five years and as old as 15 years in the market.
Both of them have their own flavors and appeal.
So, in this case, it really depends on what you like and how much you’re willing to spend on bourbon.
If you were to visit a distillery and try out the new make bourbon, you’d probably stay away from it for a while.
On the other hand, a bourbon that has been aged for six years would speak to you.
Bourbon needs time to age, like wine.
It’s important to know when to stop. If the spirit were to spend too much time in the bourbon barrel, it would absorb a lot more character from the oak than desired.
In such cases, it would become extremely sweet, tropic, or fruity.
It’s not always the best idea to opt for an older bourbon when given a choice to pick a comparatively newer bottle of bourbon.
Fun fact: Bourbon stops aging the minute it gets out of the barrel. No matter how long you keep it in the bottle thinking it’s aging, it’s not.
That said, your bottle of bourbon can last years, even if opened.
Towards the End…
Bourbon is to be enjoyed with the heart.
We’re so glad to have shared this information with you because now you will love the drink even more!
Bourbon has been a popular drink around the United States. Rocky Mountain’s selection of used bourbon barrels for sale allows you to see the intricacies that separate each of the different barrels and their origin.
You can buy used bourbon barrels for your home and see for yourself.
Want a quote? We’re here to help you out!
We hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as we enjoyed writing it for you guys!