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Hello Wine Makers. I'm Michael from Alabama living in the Memphis area. Question on Bourbon Barrell flavor.

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Michael G

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I had a conversation with Wine Expert about a month ago regarding soaking the oak chips in bourbon to try and replicate the bourbon barrel flavored wine. I tried on a must 4 months ago and I don't think I created the taste. I soaked the oak chips for a day and left the chips soak in the must for the first 14 days before I transferred into the carboy for the remaining aging. Any ideas? My first post!! Looking forward to learning from you all....
 

Steve Wargo

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The Bourbon will extract the tannins and possible flavors from the wood chips, making an extract. The wood chips will soak some bourbon into the wood. Most likely not enough to give a 5+ gallon carboy enough of the bourbon flavor you are looking for. Try to find a bag of wood chips made from a used wood bourbon barrel. Or dump bourbon directly into the carboy. 8-oz of 80 proof bourbon will raise a 5-gallon carboy ABV of the wine by 1/2 percent or close enough. Add a measured amount of bourbon to a measured glass of wine. I would start with a few measured drops. Until you get the taste that you are looking to achieve. Good luck, I try stuff like that too.
 

winemaker81

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@Michael G, you'll have a hard time duplicating the flavor of a bourbon barrel aged wine without the barrel, as barrel aging (regardless of type) has a distinct effect upon the wine. I see ads for used 53 gallon bourbon barrels ... but for that you'll have to increase your batch size just a bit. ;)

Seriously, I haven't see small (5 to 7 US gallon) used bourbon barrels available for sale, but they might exist. I'm interested in one as well.

As @Steve Wargo suggested, you can use chips or cubes made from used bourbon barrels -- these are available for purchase. That, and possibly the addition of a small amount of bourbon, may get you closest to your goal.
 

MrTea

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@Michael G, you'll have a hard time duplicating the flavor of a bourbon barrel aged wine without the barrel, as barrel aging (regardless of type) has a distinct effect upon the wine. I see ads for used 53 gallon bourbon barrels ... but for that you'll have to increase your batch size just a bit. ;)

Seriously, I haven't see small (5 to 7 US gallon) used bourbon barrels available for sale, but they might exist. I'm interested in one as well.

As @Steve Wargo suggested, you can use chips or cubes made from used bourbon barrels -- these are available for purchase. That, and possibly the addition of a small amount of bourbon, may get you closest to your goal.
These two vendors offer small format used bourbon (and other type) barrels. Their stock always seems to be changing as well as I regularly get emails about new arrivals (I have no affiliation with either).


 

winemaker81

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@MrTea, thanks for the links.

What's interesting is that 53 gallon barrels are $75 USD while the 5 gallon are $150. I expect there's less of the 5 gallon and a higher demand.

Those who have a used bourbon barrel -- how long does the bourbon flavoring last? I assume it gets used up, similar to the normal oak character.

I'm wondering how many uses I'll get if I buy one. Sure, the barrel will continue to be useful as a bulk aging container for the same reasons a normal barrel is used, and for that I'd like a small barrel -- mine are 54 liter/14.25 gallon which require a much larger batch.
 

WinoDave

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If you want to use med charred wood cubes, you need to use around 4 ounces of cubes in 3 cups of bourbon, doesn’t matter what kind kind of bourbon, I use Old Barton $10 a small bottle. Soak the cubes in bourbon for a 1 week and then dump it ALL in your carboy of wine for additional 2 weeks. This gives me a nice light taste of wood and bourbon. Not overwhelming at all.
You can buy 5 gallon used bourbon barrels for around $100 then add another $30 for shipping. You can get a solid 3 uses from a bourbon barrel. Ive done Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Blackberry with much success. Subscribe to Adventure in Homebrewing think it’s in Michigan, Austin’s Home Brewing in Texas and there’s a place in Indianapolis (can’t remember name) that carries them also Sometimes. These places get them a FEW times a year and sell them.
there is a bourbon distillery in Bowling Green Ky that sells used bourbon Barrels but I can’t remember the name, maybe do a Google search and you’ll find them. I bought one from them few years ago. I’ve bought 3-5 gallon barrels and one 15 gallon barrel and they are well worth the money for improving the flavors in wine
 

winemaker81

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@WinoDave, thanks for the info.

I use cubes in neutral barrels anyway, so instead of buying a used bourbon barrel, I'm leaning towards soaking cubes in bourbon and going with that in a non-bourbon barrel. That may be something to do next fall before I bottle this year's barrels, as I'd experiment with a carboy's worth.

EDIT: This will require I purchase heavy toast cubes instead of the typical medium or medium+.
 

Michael G

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Thanks for all the ideas. I decided to try the 8 ounces of bourbon suggested by Steve W. On a side note, my wife's family lives in Bowling Green. There is a swanky (yes, even in Bowling Green :) ) steakhouse in the downtown area. We chatted up the staff and he stated they cook their steaks over wood from bourbon barrels. The head chef wrapped up 4 or 5 boards for us to try on our next cookout in Tennessee. I thought about using those boards but I thought I would reach out to experienced wine makers that might have a proven system. I'm using the boards next time for sure.
 

WinoDave

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@WinoDave, thanks for the info.

I use cubes in neutral barrels anyway, so instead of buying a used bourbon barrel, I'm leaning towards soaking cubes in bourbon and going with that in a non-bourbon barrel. That may be something to do next fall before I bottle this year's barrels, as I'd experiment with a carboy's worth.

EDIT: This will require I purchase heavy toast cubes instead of the typical medium or medium+.
I pretty much do the same thing as you. After I use my 5 gallon barrels 3 times, I then start adding cubes soaked in bourbon to the barrel to try to rejuvenate that bourbon and wood taste that diminishes thru uses
 

Michael G

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I appreciate all the replies on the bourbon flavor search. I'm not interested in purchasing barrels to age the wine. My experience is somewhat limited. I'll be processing #10 must in the last year. The wife likes the Robert Mondavi bourbon flavored wine (so do I) and I thought I would try to replicate that flavor. We'll cut up a bourbon barrel board and give it a go in the next couple of months. Thanks for all the feedback.
 

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