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Re: [Distillers] Re: Accelerating barrel aging

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  • W D Heimer
    Yo’ Guys, I usually age 3-4 gal ~75% in a 5 gal carboy. I put in ~ 300 ml medium toasted oak chips + 300 ml dark toasted oak chips purchased from Presque
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 22, 2011
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      Yo’ Guys,
      I usually age 3-4 gal ~75% in a 5 gal carboy.   I put in ~ 300 ml medium toasted oak chips + 300 ml dark toasted oak chips purchased from Presque Island Vineyards wine making supply. I use a piece of Al foil to loosely stopper the carboy.  ‘Bout once or twice a week I give her a good shake.  I about a year I have some pretty good product.
      Regardz and a Very Merry Christmas, Dave in GA
       
      From: jvb
      Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2011 9:12 AM
      Subject: [Distillers] Re: Accelerating barrel aging
       
       

      1)  Yes.
      2)  I'd say fairly important.  Try using a coffee filter and a rubber band to cap your carboy.  That'll allow for some breathing.
      3)  I think this would help considerably.  It's basically what happens in the warehouses.
      4)  If you have the equipment, give it a shot, but that's beyond me.

      QUOTE -

      Does anyone have any sharable thoughts on ways to accelerate the barrel aging process? I have done a quick calculation of the exposed wood surface in a 53 gallon barrel and came up with a figure of about 50 square inches per gallon of spirits. With this number, I'm thinking I can calculate how many charcoaled wood cubes I need to add to a barrel to cut the aging time in half or more. I'm also looking into ways to artifically cycle the temperature and/or pressure of the spirits to simulate changes in daily and seasonal atmospheric conditions.

      My questions:
      1) Can I use glass carboys to age whiskey if I am adding charcoaled wood cubes?
      2) I understand that the wooden barrels breath, allowing some of the contents to escape. Glass obviously will not allow this. How important is this "breathing"?
      3) I was thinking about cycling the temperature +/- 30F about every 5 days. Any thoughts or comments on this?
      4) Cycling the temperature of the spirits in a closed contained will automatically cause the container pressure to also cycle. I understand that these changes in pressure help drive the natural flow of the spirits into and out of the wood grain, flavoring and filtering the spirits. Has anyone tried cycling the container pressure? If so, what pressures and cycle time.

      Any suggestions on reducing the aging process would be much appreciated. I'm getting a bit "long in the tooth" and don't think I can wait for naturally aged 18 year Scotch.

      Happy Holidays!
    • tgfoitwoods
      ... barrel aging process? I have done a quick calculation of the exposed wood surface in a 53 gallon barrel and came up with a figure of about 50 square
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 22, 2011
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        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "James" <jnhaller@...> wrote:
        >
        > Does anyone have any sharable thoughts on ways to accelerate the barrel aging process? I have done a quick calculation of the exposed wood surface in a 53 gallon barrel and came up with a figure of about 50 square inches per gallon of spirits. With this number, I'm thinking I can calculate how many charcoaled wood cubes I need to add to a barrel to cut the aging time in half or more. I'm also looking into ways to artifically cycle the temperature and/or pressure of the spirits to simulate changes in daily and seasonal atmospheric conditions.

        Increasing the oak area/volume number is one good way to accelerate oaking.
        >
        > My questions:
        > 1) Can I use glass carboys to age whiskey if I am adding charcoaled wood cubes?
        Yup. Also glass gallon jugs and Mason jars.
        > 2) I understand that the wooden barrels breath, allowing some of the contents to escape. Glass obviously will not allow this. How important is this "breathing"?
        Breathing is less important than oaking, but still important. I use a Coleman air mattress pump and a perforated copper wand to blow air violently (as in, not an aquarium pump) through my aging spirits for a very few minutes. Note that this will decrease the ABV by a small amount, so calculate accordingly. As in the story about recondensing the angels' share, the vapor coming out of the carboy during this process smells nasty.
        > 3) I was thinking about cycling the temperature +/- 30F about every 5 days. Any thoughts or comments on this?
        As far as I'm concerned, the only purpose of temperature variation is pressure variation, with the attendant cyclic migration of the spirit in and out of the oak. You can get that pressure variation with vacuum from a lab aspirator, but I'd be afraid to cycle that much vacuum in a large glass carboy. It works fine in gallon glass jugs, though.
        > 4) Cycling the temperature of the spirits in a closed contained will automatically cause the container pressure to also cycle. I understand that these changes in pressure help drive the natural flow of the spirits into and out of the wood grain, flavoring and filtering the spirits. Has anyone tried cycling the container pressure? If so, what pressures and cycle time.
        At the start of aging, I've seen 5 minutes vacuum-5 minutes off, repeat as necessary, over a period of half an hour cause pretty rapid oak-coloring to appear. Your mileage may vary.
        >
        > Any suggestions on reducing the aging process would be much appreciated. I'm getting a bit "long in the tooth" and don't think I can wait for naturally aged 18 year Scotch.
        >
        > Happy Holidays!
        >
        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits
      • James
        Thanks to all for their responses. I had heard about agitation but completely forgot about it. This adds a whole new dimension to my accelerated aging plan.
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 23, 2011
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          Thanks to all for their responses. I had heard about agitation but completely forgot about it. This adds a whole new dimension to my accelerated aging plan. Also, the thoughts on the importance of "breathing" will help. If I am going to work on a plan to cycle the pressure, I need to find a way to create internal pressure without just pumping air out of a porous filter. This could be done with an inexpensive electrically operated valve that shuts when pumping air in but opens to relieve the pressure (and higher alcohols) when the pump shuts off.
          As for pressure variation, the pressure change in a full spirits barrel with a 100F temperature change is only about 3-4 psi. I would be thinking of cycling the pressure over a range of about 5 – 6 psi. I would think that a glass carboy could easily handle this internal pressure. On the other hand, I like the idea you presented about aging in smaller glass containers. This would allow me to experiment with different quantities and toast levels of wood cubes and give me plenty of options for later blending to taste.
          Again, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. I will keep you informed of progress in the new year.
          Jim (Gone2tx)
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