Whiskey Barrel for Mead

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The Ferminator
Sep 2, 2013
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Every Christmas, my parents give us a little bit of cash in addition to a few small presents. This year they gave us a little extra and wanted us to buy something for both of us that we normally wouldn't. We have been talking about buying a couple of barrels, one for ageing mead and a smaller one for making some of our liquor blends.
With our Christmas money, we purchased this: http://www.homebrewing.com/equipment/whiskey-barrel/

(we are still looking for a small barrel for mead/hard liquor blends)

The first one going into it will be a straight traditional mead (that I need to hurry up and get started).
I have zero experience with any kind of barrels so I'm looking for any direction you guys can give me.

1. How much evaporation am I looking at here? This is a 5 gallon barrel, so I know I will need to make a little more than that to account for the evaporation, but how much more?

2. At one point do I add the mead into the barrel? I've seen where people are adding it at 1.05 SG and letting it finish in the barrel. Does this hurt anything?

3. I want to impart as much whiskey flavor as possible, but I also want to ensure this is sanitized properly. How do I go about doing that without affecting the flavor?

4. I know I'll need to fill it with hot water and drain several times, but how long do I leave the water in? 1 week? A couple of days?

Anything else I'm not thinking of?
These are great barrels and I think you are going to like the result. I ordered one last year, and put in another order this year for christmas as well. I aged an oatmeal stout in mine last year and then switched over to wine aging after a thorough cleaning.

#1 In terms of evaporation, I am topping mine off by adding in 300-500mL of wine every 2weeks. Most wines have spent 8 weeks in barrel before they get enough oak and microx to get bottled. I will have to check my notes on sanitizing. Need to find these notes for myself when mine shows up on the doorstep in the next week.
I ordered it on Monday. It arrived today!

I should have planned a little better because I really don't have anything to put in it right this second!


I left my melomel in a 10L barrel for 21 months and it aged v nicely, but I lost 55% to the angels!

Next batch will get only 3 months in barrel
I ordered it on Monday. It arrived today!

I should have planned a little better because I really don't have anything to put in it right this second!

You should add a kmeta solution to the barrel to swell and keep it sanitized before use. The only downside of this is that you will lose some of the flavor to the water. You can always pour in a bottle of bourbon a day or 2 before you add your mead.

I use 2 g tartaric acid and 4 g kmeta per gallon. You will find references to using citric acid online. I have switched to tartaric acid because it is less of a potential food source for spoilage organisms.