Bourbon Barrel Aged CIder

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Mutaneer

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So back in June I tasted some of this
http://williesmiths.tumblr.com/post/67918495069/willie-smiths-limited-release-lark-distillery
Whiskey barrel aged cider. and loved it.
I like my whiskey and I like my cider, why not have both in one drink

So I went on the hunt for a small barrel to have a crack at it myself,
picked up a new, Charred White Oak barrel from the Barrel Barn (great to deal with) and set about seasoning it.
Given that it's traditionally a Bourbon barrel, I figured that filling it with Bourbon would be a good idea.
So in went 5 litres of Jim Beam White Label, where it sat and soaked the timber for 4 months. Given the room it was in is very unstable in temperature It allows the oaking to happen very rapidly as the barrel timbers expand and contract with daily temperature changes.

So a month ago, I drained out all the liquid that was left, and i'm about 150ml short of what went in. So that has both gone to soaking into the barrel and maybe a little for the "angels share".
In with some freshly fermented cider, after a short racking of a few days to reduce the sediment and cork it up lightly.
As expected there was a little more yeast activity for a few days, probably some sugars in the char plus the residual bourbon aswell as the aeration that happens when filling a barrel through a cork-hole.

I'd been tasting it from the tap once a week and nothing much to report for the first two weeks, the third week began to give a few smokey notes, and upon tasting today, it's VERY boozy.. But in a good way.
the last two weeks has had a lot of unstable weather patterns here with some extremes in temperature and pressure which really gets the barrels going.
So this week will see it come out of the barrel and into a final racking before bottling. And hopefully have a bottle ready for New Years Eve.. I'm tipping a really nice drink to be the end product, I probably won't carb it is much as my regular cider 10-12g/L, so maybe only down around 7-8g/L for a light fizz

I've also got another 5 Litres of Cider that's been racking for 4 weeks and is extremely clear that I might throw straight into the barrel and run another batch.,
exciting stuff, for me anyway :chug:

 

nvs-brews

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i dont some port barrel cider recently... work a treat.. but be careful with time in the barrel.
My 1st beer i put through the barrel i thought it was a good idea to leave it as long as possible... well it wasnt..
i now only leave beer/cider in there for max 3 weeks..

**** i wish i had a whisky barrel, dont even fucking like port hahaha
 

Mutaneer

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Yeah, that's why I've been tasting weekly to see when it's had enough
more surface area and also volume of timber per litre in the little barrels.

I've been given some expert advice from the guys at Lark Distillery and Willie Smiths here in Hobart about all things barrel aging.
Whiskey loves a port barrel, so if you've got a lot of cheapo whiskey, some time spent in that port barrel will do wonders for it.

Even the short time the Beam had in my charred barrel has really taken the edge off it and given it a lift to drink straight
 

nvs-brews

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yeah ive been thinking about getting some cheap whisky/bourbon in there..
will have to look into it... my mate just started stilling, BUT i dunno how that flavoured spirit would work against actuall bourbon.. think i would rather get the real deal
 

Mutaneer

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How big is your barrel...
that clear spirit straight in the barrel would make a nice drink on it's own with time.

I'm not getting a whole lot of the bourbon flavours out of it, more the smokey flavour from the char and the warm kick in the nose from the booze... :p
 

nvs-brews

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my barrel seems to be tad over 4L..

yeah i owe my mate a favour, told him to drop over 4L of clear spirits and i would let it sit there for a bit... interesting idea..
May even help with my barrel flavouring
 

Mutaneer

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definitely will.
has he just made a sugar-syrup clear spirit, and then distilled that
or is it grain-based.
 

nvs-brews

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nah just a simple sugar based mix..

think this is only his 1st or 2nd batch
 

Mutaneer

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I see a good deal for both of you here.
you get some added boozieness and seasoning of your barrel, plus the sterilisation effect of 40-50% alcohol
he gets some added smoothness, plus oak and port notes into his hooch..
 

wareemba

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fantastic stuff, hope its ready for December 31 :)

but as a complete n00b - you mention that barometric pressure influences barrel brewing!??! how's that?
 

Mutaneer

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think of timber as a sponge, when it heats up and or barometric pressure drops, it relaxes, expands and sucks up moisture
when it cools, or the pressure increases it contracts and squeezes out that moisture.
and in this case, some of that moisture is the natural timber oils and charred particles.

So effectively, the more you can influence the pressure and temp changes of the barrel, the harder it works for you.
 

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