Our barrels are handmade without the use of any nails. As the wood dries the barrel shrinks and hoops loosen. Hooping is fitted in location but is only stabilized after the curing process when the barrel swells into place due to the expansion of the wood. Simply hand force the hoop into its proper location and slightly tap the banding’s side with a blunt item around the entire circumference of the barrel until tight. Then proceed to the curing process.
It is common for the barrel to have small pieces of wood inside. Your barrel is charred internally and can cause pieces from the inside to separate from the body. THIS IS GOOD NEWS! The more charred surface contact with the spirit, the faster it will age. Simply strain the spirit before drinking.
Please be conscious that your spigot is the most delicate part of your new barrel. You will have to hand force the spigot into the hole as far as it will go. Turn the movable top piece to the side then tap in using a rubber mallet or hammer with a towel or shock absorbent material to prevent it from being “cracked”.On a side note please remember that once your spigot is in place to make sure it is at the proper angle, as once it is cured the spigot will swell as well and be permanently in that position
All barrels need to swell to ensure proper function. Use boiling or hot water and fill your barrel to the top through the bung hole. When doing this, place in an area that allows for seepage coming through the wood (i.e. kitchen sink, outside, tub etc…) Although there may be no leaks immediately, the wood does need to swell internally for a period of time before use, a minimum of 3-5 days is preferred. Curing the wood will minimize the absorption of precious spirit into the body of the barrel.
DO NOT SUBMERGE YOUR BARREL IN WATER!!!
This is referred to as “leaching”. All barrels can produce a discoloration during the curing process. As the water makes its way through the wood, it will push out coloration from anything in its way. This is perfectly normal and seen in all commercial barrels in the beer, wine and distilling world.
Physics 101…remove the bung when dispensing to release pressure and allow for airflow.
Smaller barrels age 8-10 times faster than a full sized version. Therefore, the “angel’s share” (natural evaporation) is also increased. Due to its rapid aging process most spirits are at their optimum result within 1 to 3 months. Taste periodically and when accepted best to your pallet remove the contents into a bottle with appropriate aging notes and begin your next batch. If there are teenagers in your home, you may also want to investigate the “My Little Angels Share” option.
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