Thursday, July 3, 2014

Aging Everything in Barrels Hot Right Now

     I've been trying to get a small oak barrel for nearly 2 years now, but no one seems to be able to que, but when put into a former gallon wine bottle, it still has the effect of putting it into the barrel, but seems to be a bit more effective because of the extra surface that the rum has to contact the wood.
come up with one.  I'm looking to develop some aged cocktails for the bar and the boat.  There really seems to be a shortage of barrels just about everywhere these days.   I was able to get cut up pieces of barrels in Grand Cayman at the Cayman Spirits Distillery, they were selling them for your bar-b-

     I ran across this story of the worldwide shortage of barrels, and an expanded group of uses by nearly all facets of the alcohol industry.

Barrel Aging Is So Hot Right 

Modern Farmer
By John Adamian
June 30, 2014 

People want to do weird things in old barrels. 

     And Gable Erenzo, distiller for Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardner, New York, has heard it all. Among the uses for the distillery's booze-infused barrels: A local ice cream shop uses Tuthilltown barrels in some of its ice-cream-making processes. Fruition, a small-batch craft chocolatier in the Catskills, ages cacao beans in Tuthilltown's old barrels. Regional maple-syrup makers also use barrels from the distillery to age their syrup. And then there was the person with a project involving a whole hog. "I had a guy contact me about aging a whole pig in one of our barrels," says Erenzo. No telling how that turned out. 

     Food fetishists, craft beer people and mixologists have all embraced barrel-aging. The process can impart caramelized flavors of charred wood sugars, the heat and vaporous high-notes of spirits and hints of smoke to whatever spends time sloshing up against the staves of a wooden barrel. Because of the phenolic units in wood, a charred barrel can impart flavors nearly identical to vanilla and clove. (It can be too much: Wine makers often limit the barrel-aging time to avoid creating overpowering flavors. Like vintners, many brewers and craft-cocktail makers are simply content to impart those sweet and smoky flavors by using wood chips from old casks.) 

     But it sounds a lot cooler to say something is "barrel-aged" than flavored with "wood chips." 

    And, as a result, barrel-aging is high up on the food-trend meter, somewhere below bacon, pickles and IPAs, somewhere above eating insects. There are already barrel-aged coffees, barrel-aged honeys, barrel-aged hot-sauces, ciders, mustards, vinegars, pickles, beers, cocktails and more. We can expect to only hear about more barrel-aged products in the coming years. 

     Barrel-aging is high up on the food-trend meter, somewhere below bacon, pickles and IPAs, somewhere above eating insects. 

     But if there's a craze for all things barrel-aged, where do all those barrels come from? With America in the midst of a craft-distilling boom, most of the barrels being used for aging food products are first used to age spirits. Ten years ago there were 70 craft distilleries in the U.S. Today there are more than 600, cooking up gins, whiskeys, vodkas, moonshines, rum and more. The rules regarding American whiskey (excepting corn whiskey) dictate that the spirit must be aged in a new charred oak cask. That means every batch requires a new barrel to meet the specifications. Tuthilltown, for instance, uses an estimated 1,750 standard-size (53-gallon) barrels a year. These barrels are fueling a secondary market. 

     Those barrels, and many of the barrels used by distillers and brewers around the country, come from Minnesota - from a small company called Black Swan Cooperage, in Park Rapids. You might imagine that with bartenders, chefs, confectioners and brewers scrambling to get their hands on barrels, young craftspeople would be popping up to supply the demand for local barrels, using wood from nearby stands of forest. But it's not quite that simple.


     It never fails that when you have a plan for a fun way to make something really good, the
resources you need to make it happen dry up.  I'm still looking if anyone has a good sealed up small barrel to do some aging experiments with.  ;o)