Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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goose eye
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Fri May 01, 2009 6:52 am

slow an steady aint got no book learnin on the subject but it seem to hit a peak then slows off then
holds steady for a year or 3 then slowly starts fallin off but it also depends on what type likker it is. ole boys figured it was the likker evaperatin out of the jugs but that bein tole they got a couple pint jugs over 50 years old that will still bead but most that age wont. aint got no clue of why or why not just that somethangs just are.

so im tole

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by dropping_planets » Fri May 01, 2009 7:06 am

blind drunk wrote:... when we tighten our lids. :lol:

this is a great thread..... my aging cabinet has become a bit overwhelming and confusing

how long do you guy's recommend i leave my aging jars open....?

is there any point in leaving them open after removing from the oak....? i don't seem to notice much if any evaporation even after several months .... :shock:

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Fri May 01, 2009 7:58 am

dropping_planets wrote:is there any point in leaving them open after removing from the oak....? I don't seem to notice much if any evaporation even after several months .... :shock:
I don't know. Hot summers day... say 90+ degrees F... multiple containers of 170 proof sitting open in your aging cabinet... you open the door... small spark or open fire nearby... KABLAMO... you need a new aging cabinet and you got to explain to everybody you know why you got no eyebrows or any facial hair at all.
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Fri May 01, 2009 9:39 am

you got 170 proof apple brandy. how do you get 170 proof an hold a scent an taste

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Fri May 01, 2009 10:15 am

My mistake... 70% is what I get... I should have said 140 proof.
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by dropping_planets » Fri May 01, 2009 7:51 pm

slow n steady... i do appreciate the concern......do you age with your lid's sealed...?

my house and my stillin' casita are both adobe... warm in the winter and cool in the summer... and that's a very hypothetical situation for my controlled little area.... no one has access to or plays around here but me...

and now that i'm curious..... i just put a bic to one of my full barrels and sure 'nuff... no explosion......... :shock:


pyrophobia aside... what i age in glass gets a couple coffee filters.... when it gets bottled, it gets corks... and as far as i can tell, aging does not stop..... it keeps gettin better

anyways... bottled up all my apple stuff today like a proud father.....

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Sat May 02, 2009 1:04 pm

I'm about 1/2 way through the 240 gallons of aged cider I'm running. I didn't add sugar, just ran the juice so the spirit netted 8 + gallons after low wines and spirit run. Smells and tastes very nice. I have 750 ml steeping on toasted apple wood to see if I want to steep this run before I put it in the cask to barrel age. I don't have a 16 gallon barrel so I will have to split it up over several 5 gallon barrels. Might want to try several different steeps to see how it goes. I do steep with a cork in and that might be why I think that aging doesn't happen in the bottle. I think I need to open up my steep and see how that goes. I'm a long ways from bottling and I will store most of it in 5 gallon jugs
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Wed May 06, 2009 9:14 am

The Chemist wrote:
Found it. "Determination of the Congeners Produced from Ethanol During Whisky Maturation", Reazin et. al., Journal of the AOAC, v. 59, no. 4, pp. 770-776.
Thank you "The Chemist", I continued searching Reazin and found another 7 page download in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. Chemical Mechanisms of Whiskey Maturation. Well worth the $10 dollar fee.

Here is the ABSTRACT.
***********************************
Studies of the chemical mechanisms involved in the maturation of whiskey showed that the formation of acetaldehyde, acetic acid, and ethyl acetate originates in the distillate, while ethanol lignin, aromatic aldehydes, sugars and some acetic acid are reaction products of the distillate and wood components.
Storage conditions affect these reactions. For example, barrel wood is more reactive when a barrel is charred, causing a higher congener level in the product of the first filling than that of a comparable filling in an uncharred barrel. As the barrel is reused, the product congener level approaches that of the uncharred barrel. The effect of recharring the barrels on congener formation is also discussed.
The entry proof also affects the levels of congeners present in the final product. As the entry proof increases, those congeners that originate from barrel components decrease. Warehouse temperatures are directly related to the rate these congeners are formed. The implication of these relationships on the maturation of whiskey is discussed.
************************************
Although this research is about barrel aging it appears to me that those of this tread who claim aging in glass works are most likely correct, however when the reactant (meaning the wood) is removed the processes revert to those that don't require a intimate contact with wood.

Thanks again to "The Chemist" and all posts that rely on "the good book of scientific research" to keep me on the right path of what really goes into proper aging of a great whiskey.
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Scribbler » Wed May 06, 2009 9:47 am

I just want to thank the chemist and slow and steady for all of the research and discussions that you have both given us.

your work has given me a lot to think about, and while I may not be capable to pursuing the 'ideal' options, I now have a better understanding of the process and should be able to make better decisions on how to proceed.

jmk

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Scribbler » Wed May 06, 2009 10:13 am

this is a question for anyone, but it was slow and steady that I thought of (S&S seems to have a lot of experience with barrels)

preamble: I think barrels are cool. I think that there also is likely some truth that barrel aging is the ideal process. (although I would also agree that it boils (pun intended!) down to chemistry, and therefore care, planning, and attention could reasonably simulate a barrel condition.

I wonder if you have any advice for me here?
my pot still is a 2 gallon (8 litre)stock pot, meaning a 5-6 litre fill capacity; ie -small runs. My eventual goal is to use barley from my father-in-law's farm (for all intents and purposes I have an unlimited supply!) into an all-malted-barley whiskey. but right now I am wanting to focus on distilling and aging. My brother and law has been making remarkably consistent wine, so he is currently my source for brandy-making wash.

what would you suggest I do regarding barrels for aging? would it ruin my product if I bought a large barrel and added a litre and a half of distillate to it -piecemeal- until it is full? or should the distillate only go into the barrel when there is enough to fill it in one shot?

I found an american fellow who lives in mexico on ebay that sells various sized barrels... if barrels can be filled incrementally, I had been thinking about getting one or two small barrels (2-4 litre) one or two maedium barrels, and then one barrel as big as I can afford... then when I distill, I would put half of my distillate into the big barrel, and then fill the smaller barrels beginning with the smallest first... Meanwhile I would also be doing some glass jar aging as well for the sake of impatiently wanting to consume a 'lesser' product.


I was thinking that once the big barrel was full, I would label it and put it aside in a secret location. I would then buy another large barrel and begin filling it. I would periodically check the smaller barrels and begin bottling when the quality is reasonably good starting with the smallest barrel. as a small barrel becomes empty, I would refill it from the big barrel that is in progress.


does any of this sound like it might work? I know it depends on the idea of incremental barrel filling, but are there other aspects that I may not be considering?

thanks.,.. you folks rock!

jmk

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Wed May 06, 2009 12:04 pm

martenskoop wrote: I know it depends on the idea of incremental barrel filling, but are there other aspects that I may not be considering?

thanks.,.. you folks rock!

jmk
Good question, I would go to the experts. Call the barrel producer you intend to purchase from and ask them if incremental barrel filling would be problematic. I use 5 gallon barrels and have always filled the barrel all at once. This is due in part to my interpretation of the barrel preparation instructions that come with the barrel. The instructions tell you to fill the barrel full with clean water and let it sit 24 to 48 hours. This expands the wood of the barrel and allows you to check for leaks. Then you thoroughly rinse out the barrel to remove any matter loosened by the water soak. The spirit goes in and you drive the bung in the bung hole. I don't drive mine into tightly so it is easy to check the process of the aging.
It can take 60 days or more to receive a barrel from my supplier so most times my spirit is waiting in a 5 or 6 gallon glass carboy. Oh... and another side note... most of the 5 gallon barrels I get hold more than 5 gallons, I have one that holds more than 6 gallons.
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by punkin » Wed May 06, 2009 12:23 pm

You should not fill a barrell below about two thirds full according to my cooper (even then it should eb regularly turned). Full is very much preferable. The barrell will dry out and warp otherwise.

They always ask exactly when i am going to pick the barrell up, to make sure that it is finnished only when required and always ask if i have something ready to fill it.


You could just keep making little bits and saving them in a spare ber keg. :wink:

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Thu May 07, 2009 3:24 am

slow an steady you sayin the reason your likker wont agein in glass before cause it had a cork stopper.

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by rad14701 » Thu May 07, 2009 5:29 am

goose eye wrote:slow an steady you sayin the reason your likker wont agein in glass before cause it had a cork stopper.
It's called "Aged under cork"... :P Sorry, I couldn't resist... :twisted:

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Thu May 07, 2009 5:35 am

goose eye wrote:slow an steady you sayin the reason your likker wont agein in glass before cause it had a cork stopper.
You know... truth be told, I have never left my spirit steep in glass for more than 6 to 8 weeks and that was with a wine grade synthetic stopper in the lid, I have always moved my spirit to barrels to age. I like seeing a barrel on the rack with its date filled and kind of spirit within. I have toured many distilleries in Scotland and the smell of many barrels aging in the warehouse is a smell that I just love. So I would have to answer the question this way... My spirit won't age in glass because I have never left it there long enough to age. I have been operating under misinformation for many years and this thread has helped open my eyes to another possibility.
I did pull the stopper on every carboy steeping yesterday to allow oxygen to get to the spirit. I even pulled the stopper on some bourbon waiting for its barrel to arrive... there isn't any wood in that carboy only clear spirit from sour mash.
"If it worthwhile then it is worth a little extra time and effort... all impatiens ever got me was burned fingers and charred eyebrows"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by The Chemist » Thu May 07, 2009 6:01 am

Slow & Steady wrote: Thank you "The Chemist", I continued searching Reazin and found another 7 page download in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. Chemical Mechanisms of Whiskey Maturation. Well worth the $10 dollar fee.
That's one I don't have!! That journal is hard to come by...and I'm 'cheep'...LOL. Ah well...I'll stop by and get it next time I pass through Baton Rouge...

Thanks!
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Fri May 08, 2009 4:17 am

chemist you study much white brandy or is it mostly stained

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by The Chemist » Fri May 08, 2009 6:51 am

Well...it starts out white... :D
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by schnell » Fri May 08, 2009 4:49 pm

you sayin the reason your likker wont agein in glass before cause it had a cork stopper.
that probably has a lot to do with it.

several of the chemicals listed above are simply the result of air oxidation. we start with ethanol. oxidize the alcohol up one level to the aldehyde, which we call acetaldehyde (but would formally be named ethanaldehyde). oxidize the aldehyde up one more level to the carboxylic acid, which we call acetic acid (but would formally be named ethanoic acid). then acetic acid and the abundant solvent ethanol readily esterify to form ethyl acetate.

every bit of that chemistry can happen simply by oxidizing with available oxygen. the barrels slowly over time allow O2 in.

Of course theres alot to be said for simple sparging with O2. I think the old absinthe folks, Oxygenee, were doing something like this. Though sparging also accelerates removal of the more volatile components in the spirit that are in small but tastable quantities.

Here's an angle for some other folks to try also and we'll compare at a later date. Use an aquarium air pump to aerate a glass jug of something for a few minutes each week and see what happens. WARNING: Messing with high proof spirits will destroy most plastic air stones and tubing. I recommend either no stone and a copper or steel dip tube , or one of the fancy stainless ones used for brewing that are available on a steel dip tube. (Don't bubble to long or you'll reduce the volume by removing all the volatiles including the ethanol.)

Heed the plastic warning, I wrecked a few pumps, stones, and a bunch of other plastic labware on a research project that had some high test ethanol involved once. I once built and used an identical apparatus after the project for making vinegar at home by adding air to an active culture.

This could be a poor man's barrel (>~$15). But note that it'd lack 1) reactive surfaces 2) extractable flavour components 3) pourosity and 4) Will definately produce flammable vapours and be a fire hazard.

But it's pretty cheap voodoo. And if some magic happens...

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Sat May 09, 2009 4:07 am

ole boys dont no much bout chemistry but if likker contacts cork for a while it will stain so sure it doin somethin. they aint ever used much cork stopers for agein cause there wont much to be had that big but they have used wood plugs. they have corked potery jugs an it seemed to age in it but the cork wont shoved in like a wine corker do. ole boys figuered the temp swings over the year played in it to. ole doc an there pa was big on toyin around with likker an they seen it first hand but wont smart enough to understand docs whys. ole boys thought they noed so much bout likker til they met that ole man with shiney shoes that didnt no the first thang bout firein up a kettle an lost that bet.

so im tole

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by HookLine » Sat May 09, 2009 4:50 am

but the cork wont shoved in like a wine corker do. ole boys figuered the temp swings over the year played in it to.
There is the answer... Cork ain't pushed real hard into the jug. Still allow some air to slowly get in. Slowly.
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by blind drunk » Sat May 09, 2009 6:27 am

ole boys thought they noed so much bout likker til they met that ole man with shiney shoes that didnt no the first thang bout firein up a kettle an lost that bet.

so im tole
:D :D
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by blind drunk » Sat May 09, 2009 6:30 am

Great info here; I was just about to order a barrel and even got the shipping cost on one, but I think I'll wait until I get more liquid. BD.
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Sat May 09, 2009 8:34 am

hook aint there still air in head space

so im tole

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Slow & Steady » Sat May 09, 2009 10:00 am

Well... I have started an experiment of sorts. Yesterday I toasted Up 15 year old air dried apple wood. 2.5 hours at 390 F then 30 min at 425 F, wrapped in aluminum foil. Then I charred the outside with propane torch.

1) I'm going to steep two six gallon carboys with one stick each in 70% ABV clear apple brandy for six weeks (sticks are 9" long by 1" octagonal).
2) At the end of six weeks one of the carboys will get transferred to a 5 gallon char barrel. The other carboy will have the toasted Apple exchanged for toasted & charred oak stick.
3) I will taste test at the end of every 3 months and report back with the results for at least 24 months.

I will start a new thread called "Barrel Aged & Bottle Aged" when the first taste tests have been collected. I will try to gather locally 5 tasters who will agree to stick with the experiment for 24 months at the bare minimum. I will store samples of each draw in a deep freezer with as little air in the container as possible to slow/stop the aging process so that a side by side sampling can be made at the end of the experiment.

Someone should replicate this experiment with a bourbon on oak bottle against bourbon on Char Barrel.
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by HookLine » Sat May 09, 2009 8:48 pm

goose eye wrote:hook aint there still air in head space

so im tole
Not much, goose.

There would need to be a little bit of fresh air getting in to keep the oxygen related ageing going. Like in a barrel.
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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by Dnderhead » Sat May 09, 2009 8:59 pm

There would need to be a little bit of fresh air getting in to keep the oxygen related ageing going. Like in a barrel
That sort of explains why the stuff I dug out from "bygone" days did not change much . they were full to top and submerged in water.
no way for air/o2 to enter.

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by rad14701 » Sun May 10, 2009 6:37 am

Dnderhead wrote:That sort of explains why the stuff I dug out from "bygone" days did not change much . they were full to top and submerged in water. no way for air/o2 to enter.
You drinking ship wreck Rum Dndrhead...??? "Where's Me Gold...!!!"

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by goose eye » Mon May 11, 2009 4:49 am

chemist yep rekon it is unlessin it pukes.
so im tole

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Re: Great Apple brandy: Toasted or charred barrel?

Post by schnell » Thu May 14, 2009 2:33 pm

goose: the small amount of air in the headspace will have an effect. but, nowhere near as much as a barrel, which is able to constantly refresh this air in the headspace throughout the seasons. Dnderhead's experience seems to support this thinking.

and importantly a barrel can lose volatile impurities that simply evaporate away because they have a really low boiling point, or are less polar. a jar or jug won't be able to do this unless there is a loose cork or open top.

i don't mind the angels taking their share, since I realized they took the foreshots first.

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