1. What is an oak barrel? Who is Golden Oak Barrel?
Oak is a special wood when it comes to making liquor because it is the only wood that does not rot due to liquid. A quality oak barrel like ours is 100% new oak and is meant to hold your liquor for up to 10 years or longer.
Golden Oak Barrel
Our company was founded because we have always loved making our own spirits and liquors. We were never happy though with the quality of barrels available on the market, so we went on a quest to find the very best oak barrels available. After getting sample after sample from nearly every company in North America and rigorously testing them, we found a cooperage (barrel makers) that have standards just as high as ours.
Our barrels are a sense of pride for us and they should be for you too. We have barrels in different sizes, 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 liters & can have Black Steel, Polished Steel or Brass for the metal hoops.
We also offer custom laser engraving on each barrel for an additional fee. This can be one of our many popular designs or one of your own. If you’re not up for getting a custom engraving that’s ok, we also offer a set of vinyl stickers that you can put on your barrel to give it that unique look.
Finally, each order includes access to our 30 page brewing guide which will take you from a novice to an expert so you can make the perfect liquor, spirits, or ale. .
2. How to cure (prepare) your barrel before you add alcohol?
Step #1 Blow into the cork hole
This may sound silly, but the best way to see where any super fine gaps may be between the wood is to lightly blow into the barrel. When you create this positive pressure on the inside you will be able to hear where the air is escaping from the barrel. If you hear air coming out of it ever so slightly that is fine and completely normal. The wood will swell once wet. However, the outside will be dry and only the inside of the barrel that holds the liquid will swell. This step is optional but it is a convenient way to tell where the water will drip from in the initial fill of water.
One important note- If your barrel has been left exposed to the air with no contents it will shrink by up to 10%. That is not what we want because it will make it harder and take longer for the barrel to seal when you are ready to use it. The metal hoops might even pop off if left log enough.
Step #2 Fill with water
Fill the barrel between 50-90% with room temperature water and let it sit. For some, slightly warm water will do the trick.
Once you do this the wood will start to swell and you will notice any potential leaks. Most of the time a simple paper towel underneath it will be fine, however, you may want to put it in the sink if you feel it is leaking a bit too much. Let it sit until the leaks slow to a slight drip or stop entirely. Sometimes it takes a couple hours, other times it could be a day or two.
Whether the barrel was made 200 years ago or is one of ours and was made a couple weeks back, leaks are to be expected with every wooden oak barrel. The drier it becomes the more it will leak.
Once it appears to be leak free, pick it up and with the cork on, roll the water on the inside from one side to another or give it a light to moderate shake. Make sure that the water covers every part of the barrel on the inside. This is done to both ensure there are no additional leaks and to scrub off any potential wood chips on the inside before draining the water.
Once you have given it a good shake and let it sit for a few additional minutes.
Step #3 Draining the water
Once the wood has sealed it is time to drain the water. Over a sink, roll the barrel so the cork hole is pointing downward and remove the cork. Once removed the water will start to flow. With the cork still removed, open the spigot. This will allow air to flow through while the water flows out and will do a better job of clearing the water out.
Once clear of water you can either fill with your alcohol/spirits or repeat the process again if you feel it needs another cleaning.
Make sure you are comfortable with the barrel sealing fully before adding your content. It's always better to let it sit for a few extra hours or a day after it seals then to add your drink early and let some of the contents spill out.
3. How to eliminate remaining leaks?
Make sure you are comfortable with the barrel sealing fully before adding your content. It's always better to let it sit for a few extra hours or a day after it seals than to add your drink early and let some of the contents spill out.
4. How to add alcohol?
After sealing the barrel nice and tight and is all cleared out, it is time to fill your barrel with your favorite drink.
As you fill it through the top cork hole you will want to make sure the spigot is closed (not pointing straight away from the barrel).
Once filled with your spirit and any other ingredients, go ahead and put the cork back on top to seal it.
Note: If you pour something in that releases gas when aerated (like wine) then you need to leave the cork off the top for a while. If you don't, this pressure will push outward and may cause the barrel to leak.
5. How long is the best time to age alcohol?
Your barrel is a little piece of wooden greatness and we guarantee it to preform. However, it is up to you to choose what you put in it and when it is time to take it out/ drink it. Just as you can over cook food, you can over age some alcohols and you can't reverse it.
When it comes to aging alcohol, the contents of a smaller barrel will age much quicker than a bigger barrel. So the flavor you get after 3-4 weeks in a 1 Liter could be the same as 8-10 weeks in a 5-liter barrel. That is why it is important to regularly sample your alcohol every week or every couple weeks until you know how a specific alcohol will preform.
The taste factor is completely up to you and the longer you let it sit in the barrel, the more flavor it will obtain.
6. How to install a spigot?
It's pretty straight forward. Put the spigot in the barrel and align it so it is straight up and down and in line with the top hole. Then, with a plastic mallet or hammer, tap the spigot in so it has a snug fit.
The goal is to make sure it's in just tight enough to make a seal between the spigot and the hole. The spigots are pretty tough, however, you do not want to hit it to tight and break the spigot.
If in doubt, tap it in slowly with a bit more force until the spigot feels good and snug.
7. How to clean a barrel?
A couple of washes will be fine. If there's additional wood shavings in it, that's ok! It's just from the final drilling of the holes. The barrel interior is charred wood and the wood shavings won't effect it in anyway.
8. How to store a barrel?
After emptying your liquor, fill the inside with water and empty it; this gives it a quick rinse. Once done, go ahead and fill it again with mostly water and a little bit of alcohol(maybe 5%). The water will keep the barrel well sealed and the alcohol prevents anything from growing during storage.
This should allow you to store it for several months.
9. What if I want to use my barrel for later?
If going to be used immediately after delivery, please follow the steps found in the 30-page aging guide in properly sealing the barrel.
If you are not ready to us it yet or need to give it as a gift still, wrap it back up in the shrink wrap/brown paper/box we ship it in. If you do not have that and want to keep your barrel in optimal condition for when you are ready, please fill it ½ to ¾ full with water.