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The Complete Guide to Aging Whiskey at Home: What You Need to Do

It was the most popular spirit back in the 1970s and people still enjoy a good glass of whiskey today. That smooth smokey oak flavor burns the throat so well!

Over the past few years, Millenials have started bringing back the spirit’s popularity. In 2016 alone, American made whiskey sales reached 48.4 million cases and the trend is only gaining steam!

For those who have a DIY spirit, aging your own whiskey is a great hobby!

But what do you need? Is it complicated?

Don’t worry. We put together a great guide about aging whiskey at home to get you started. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know!

What You Need to Age Whiskey Yourself

There are a few things you’ll need to buy before you can start aging your whiskey at home. No matter which method you use, these items are pretty universal in the aging process.

Whiskey

You can take any unaged, bottom shelf whiskey and elevate it by aging it with oak.

The kind of whiskey you start with does make a difference though. Using a corn-based whiskey will give you a bourbon whiskey after aging, while barley-based whiskey will end up like an Irish, Canadian, or Scotch whiskey.

Container

Not all containers do well when aging whiskey. Avoid metal at all costs! Try to find something made of oak or glass and has an airtight seal.

Charred Oak

The best way to age whiskey is to add some bits of oak wood with char on the entire surface. The wood imparts flavor compounds into the whiskey over time, giving the whiskey an aged flavor.

Whiskey Aging Kits

Yes, the rising popularity of home brewing and spirit aging has gotten so enticing that companies have started selling kits with everything you need to age your whiskey (or other spirits) at home. Most aging kits come from online sellers, but some brewing supply companies carry kits as well. Some kits are better than others though, so be sure to do your research before you buy anything.

In the kit, you’ll get charred oak bits that you add to the unaged whiskey, then let it sit in a dark place. In a day or two, test the whiskey to see if you have achieved the taste you prefer. Most kits will also give you an aging guide to tell you how long to let your whiskey age.

This option is great if you want to try your hand at whiskey aging or if you only ever intend on making small batches. If you want to make more than a bottle or two of product, you’ll need to scale the whole operation.

Whiskey Aging Without a Kit

If the kit thing isn’t your style, or if you need to make a big batch of aged whiskey, you’ll need to start from the beginning. Char thin strips or batons of oak with a blow torch but graze the surface of the wood. You don’t want to burn holes through it.

After charring all the wood you need, be sure to wash it well with cool water until the wood is no longer warm to the touch. Then, remove any ash or debris so it doesn’t taint your whiskey.

The temperature you use will determine how the wood will make the whiskey taste too. Aim for around 300℉ for a sweet, oaky flavor and 430℉ to get notes of vanilla. Then add those bits of charred oak to your whiskey container and let it sit in the dark until you decide it’s ready!

Aging Whiskey at Home Using a Barrel

If you don’t want to char the oak yourself, you could buy a whiskey barrel and let your unaged whiskey sit in one of those. Look for a pre-charred white oak barrel in the size you need, but keep in mind that smaller batches are easier to control and you won’t waste as much if you mess up. If you can’t find a barrel that comes charred, you can always do that part yourself with a blow torch!

To get ready to age your whiskey, you’ll first need to assemble the spigot and prepare the barrel. Then add your whiskey and put the bung into the bunghole to seal the whiskey inside.

As it ages, draw a little taste from the spigot to test its flavor. Once you feel like the whiskey has aged long enough, remove it from the barrel and put it into a glass or plastic container. If you leave the whiskey in the barrel, it will continue to age and you’ll ruin the batch.

This whiskey barrel is personalized with your name (or a loved one’s name if you want to give one as a gift… hint, hint) and sits on your counter or booze shelf. These kinds of aging barrels are also very effective for other spirits like tequila and rum as well!

If Whiskey Won’t Cure It, Nothing Will

Once you get going, aging whiskey at home is a breeze, and quite tasty too. Think of how neat a conversation starter you’ll have when you can offer your guests a glass of whiskey you aged yourself!

Keep in mind that a little whiskey is great to relax after a stressful day, or to act as a social lubricant. But, overindulging in any kind of alcohol isn’t a good idea, so drink only in moderation.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned a thing or two about how to age whiskey at home. If you want more information about books, business, travel, lifestyles and more.

Written by Marcus Richards

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