Some of the most popular trends in whiskey over the last couple of years has been whiskey blending and barrel crafting at home.
Each serves as an excellent way to add more depth of flavor and complexity to your spirits and create something entirely new and unique. Instead of a regular old-fashioned, you can have one infused with multiple whiskeys or citrus peels. Instead of just your regular Daviess County Kentucky Straight Bourbon, you can try blending several variants and then barrel-age them to add extra oomph.
If this sounds fun, but you’re not sure how to get started? This blog article is for you.
How to Use Whiskey Barrels for Whiskey Blending and Craft Cocktails
Nowadays, you can find different barrels designed for crafting at home all across the web. They come in different sizes, and many can be used multiple times to craft different spirits or blends. The first step is grabbing one of these barrels and following the instructions to waterproof them and get them ready to fill up.
Next, you’ll want to grab your favorite bourbon (may we suggest one of the Daviess County Bourbons?) and pour it in.
From there, it’s entirely up to you. You can add dried fruit powder, peels, herbs, or other whiskeys. You can make a big batch of Old-Fashioned or Manhattan cocktails–just be sure not to add fresh fruit because it can rot while in the barrel.
How long you let it soak up the barrel goodness is also up to you. There is no exact science for this, but instead, you should let your concoction sit for a few weeks, then test it to see if you want to keep going, stop the process, or add more ingredients.
Need Some Help with Whiskey Blending?
We have an entire Whiskey Blending 101 page dedicated to helping you develop something unique and tasty. We offer recipes using the different Daviess County Bourbons and even provide the various tools and measurements necessary for success.
Check out our Whiskey Blending 101 Page for more information.
Tips for Making Barrel-Aged Cocktails
The trick to making barrel-aged cocktails is to mix your ingredients in bulk and then place them in the barrel. However, you want to leave out any fresh ingredients to avoid rot. Those can be added once you’re ready to pour yourself a glass.
Consider adding some of these ingredients to your cocktail for added depth:
- Fruit powder or dried peels
- Dried herbs
- Wood chips (though choose these sparingly)
- Other spirits
- Chocolate or toffee powder
…and just about anything else. Essentially, as long as it doesn’t spoil during its time in the barrel, you can add it and see if your creation matches your taste buds.
Do I Have to Add Things to the Barrel?
Not at all. In fact, if you’d simply like to age your whiskey in a barrel, the barrel itself will provide extra depth of character. You’ll want to store your barrel in a cool, dry place where no one can tip it over or air from vents won’t dry it out. Typically, warmer weather means that the whiskey will evaporate inside the barrel quicker (this is what happens in rickhouses), and cooler temps slow down the aging process.
Regardless of what you choose to do with your crafting barrel at home, it’s hard to argue against the coolness factor you’ll achieve by having one in the background of your bar selfies or trying your own aged whiskey blend or unique craft cocktail.