So, regular readers will remember when I picked up my own mini barrel for extra aging spirits. It wasn’t the sort of thing I could use to truly barrel age a neutral spirit, but it was good for adding a touch of extra flavor to something that was already aged.
Well! Enter “Barrel Char in a Jar.” Available on Etsy, this affordable kit will get you on your way to barrel aging whatever you want.
Everything included in the kit is pictured here:
There are five different types of wood for you to experiment with. Five! I’d have been happy with two or three. (There’s an upgrade option available to you seven different wood types… as seen above)
Now, I settled on Hudson’s New York Corn Whiskey and Tito’s Handmade Vodka for my Barrel Char Jar experiments.
I figured that the corn whiskey would give me something more akin to a “real” American whiskey. And I thought that vodka would make a nice control.
I then thought that I’d spice things up by going with two staves in each jar.
The Hudson Corn Whiskey got one traditional Bourbon barrel stave and one sugar maple stave. Tito’s Vodka got one mulberry stave and one sugar maple stave… and 5 blackberries. Yeah… I messed with my “control” and went with a fruit infusion.
Now, the instructions are quite simple. Still, I recommend reading it all before diving in. Because…
The instructions say to start off with one wood stave. I used two.
The instructions say to pull of a sample of your spirit weekly to monitor your progress. I didn’t.
The instructions say to pay close attention to your spirit’s progress, especially during warmer temperatures as flavor extraction is accelerated in the heat. I didn’t.
September was the warmest month on record here in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. And I just let my jars sit in my hot kitchen for a solid month.
Yeah. VERY dark liquid.
Ok, so I may have over aged them. But more importantly, how did they turn out?
Vodka + 2 staves & 5 blackberries
Nose: Mildly astringent, hints of blackberries and almonds
Taste: Toasted almonds, walnuts, cloves, roseflower water & mild berries
Finish: Long and warm
Notes: The taste and finish dramatically outshine the nose. The scent was even more astringent than plain Tito’s, but the wood notes simply explode across your palate. It’s much more like a VSOP brandy than a whiskey.
Corn whiskey + 2 staves
Nose: Caramel corn, toasted walnut
Taste: Kettle corn, caramel, vanilla, biscuit, walnut
Finish: Viscous and warm
Notes: I completely got what I wanted here: American style whiskey. Reminds me of my coveted Forged Oak.
Clearly, NOT over-barrelled for my palate! But I have to admit, that I did get a bit lucky here as I didn’t monitor my aging spirits. Still, if I had, I might have pulled the plug too soon… being the cautious fellow that I am. [not]
Anyway. What you want to know:
- Was I happy with the Barrel Char in a Jar product?
- Was I happy with the results of my experiments?
- Would I purchase another kit?
- Would I recommend the kit to friends and booze fans?
Seriously, this set is pretty cool. It even includes charcoal for your own miniature Lincoln County Process.
I am a fan!