5 Gallon Once Used Bourbon Barrel

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Ebonheart

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My dad showed up with a 5 Gallon Once Used Bourbon Barrel from the local distillery for me to have. I'm torn between using it for beer or wine.

I'm thinking, since it's nearly Chile Juice season, I'll grab a red juice bucket and age it in the barrel after fermentation, ala the new trendy whiskey barrel aged wines form Mondavi and Apothic.

Tqo questions: 1, what varietal? 2, how long in the barrel?
 

Mismost

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I have not tried whiskey barrel aged wine.....and while I like whiskey and I like wine, the two flavors are so far apart in my mind that I doubt I will try it.

Now I have made a couple of bourbon oaked beers (not barrel aged, soaked chips). MAN! They were great beers and I will be doing those again! I say go beer based on my very limited experience and the fact that I don't want to mess up a batch of wine.
 

Boatboy24

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Cabernet or Zin are the ones that I've tried. I'd probably stick with those.
 

Ajmassa

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Just saw my local shop got some of those brandy barrel oak chips. Amazing Smell was just pouring through this factory sealed package. I was all in with that.
Though brandy oak would blend much easier with the senses than whisky. I'd try it if it was me. And let my taste buds be the judge of how long. Testing every week.
 

jburtner

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I had a commercial version of the whiskey barrel'd wine - forgot which one and i was skeptical at first but it was very good and I was surprised.

I ordered a vadai so will be getting into some barrel aging now. I have saved my used oak spirals to use with oaking whiskies / etc which is a typical scotch finishing process...

Cheers!
-johann
 

JohnT

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Have you considered making a port? I bet that barrel would do wonders for a nice port.

How do you plan on preparing the barrel for use? IMHO, even if the barrel was used for whiskey, if it has been left empty over time and not properly cleaned the alcohol in the wood could have evaporated leaving it vulnerable to bacteria, mold and fungus.
 

cgallamo

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Seems like a good first step would be to try those wines from Mondavi. I think they use lower grade grapes - maybe even bulk wine to get to that price point.

Got some great ideas from the team. Use Cabernet, Syrah, Zin, maybe Merlot. Or better yet make a Port!
 

Rocky

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We used to buy 53 gallon barrels from Schenley Distillery in Pennsylvania and use them for a wine we made of 75% Zinfandel and 25% Muscat. The barrels cost $5 at the time and they probably had that much whiskey still in them. You could hear the whiskey sloshing around in the barrel. It gave the first year's wine some real kick and subsequent years were good too.
 

Ebonheart

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Luckily, we know that the barrel has peated bourbon in it two weeks ago (paper tag on the side confirms this). Should not be too much to worry about.
 

JohnT

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Luckily, we know that the barrel has peated bourbon in it two weeks ago (paper tag on the side confirms this). Should not be too much to worry about.
Awesome! Nice to know that it was not sitting around for several months!
 

winemaker81

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Which varietal? Something heavy and dark. Since the barrel is a once-used bourbon barrel, it stored bourbon for at least 2 years -- but it's relatively new, so you'll get a lot of "stuff" out of it, both from the wood and the bourbon residue. Anything light will be overpowered.

How long? I'd check the wine monthly. I don't like messing with wines too frequently, but you don't want to have wine that tastes like the oak bar you're serving it on. If I had to guess I'd say 3 months, but take that guess with a 5# bag of salt. Frequent checking will let you know when the wine is ready to be removed from the barrel.

Err on the side of removing the wine from the barrel early. It's like adding salt to soup -- you can always add more but taking some out doesn't work well. :)

I'd make four 5 gallon batches and cycle each through the barrel. My guess is the first couple (at least) will not require much aging to get the oak flavor. As the barrel gets used more, that will change.
 

Ambugaton

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I have tried (enjoyed it, slightly sweeter than I prefer) the Cooper and Thief Red Blend Bourbon Barrel. Take a look at that if you'd like.

I have a question though... can you soak oak chips in some bourbon for a while then throw that in? I do something similar when cooking on the smoker and you get the essence of the bourbon. I will never likely come across a well used bourbon barrel but am interested in experimenting.

EDIT: I see it was mentioned before about brandy/bourbon soaked chips added to beer. How long do you need to soak? I am thinking about trying an Almond/Cherry wine experiment. The thought of adding a slight hint of brandy or maybe bourbon really excites me.
 
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jburtner

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Yes. I reuse my wine infused and extracted oak spirals to provide "wine barrel finishing" to store bought corn liquor. I have a jar of chips sitting in sherry right now for the same purpose. I save the ones out of the corn liquor / rum / tequila for maybe a third use in a wine or two. I'll try it and let it sit for a while. Mostly agree about using stronger flavored wines but once the bourbon or other spirit is significantly proofed down the actual flavors are often smooth and may pair well with some lighter wines too. Rules are there to be followed and we can always make up our own too. Sometimes we fail.

Cheers!
-johann
 

Treeman

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I'm on my second bourbon barrel. I put an oatmeal stout through first barrel for 4 weeks, and then power washed and strong sulfite for a week. Next onto chilean reds. The first batch, 5 weeks still had some residual bourbon notes and smokey wood. After a year, I am still using the barrel and having to add oak beans to get the oak I want. Getting great micro-oxidation over 5-8 weeks in barrel.
 

Ebonheart

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Ok, Placed the Chilean Syrah in the Barrels on 8-13. Tested it today, 10-23. Wow, I hit the sweet spot. I immediately racked and MBSed 5 gallons into a carboy for additional aging. It is REALLY interesting. Hints of peated bourbon with a strong oak back. It have about a half gallon left in the barrel. Thinking about adding my 2017 Chancellor in it soon. Or, I need to figure out how to clean and store a wooden barrel. I'm sure the bourbon flavor will disappear in later uses, but it's still a great size for barrel aging home winemaking.
 
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