1. How do I cure the barrel? Barrels should be cured prior to use. Start by filling the barrel with hot water and leave it to soak for a day. This allows the barrel to swell tightly against the hoops and ensure that the barrel doesn't leak. Or fill ends of barrel with water while standing up. When the ends hold water after an hour the barrel becomes watertight. Keep filling up ends until it stops leaking. You can save any old barrel this way. This will also keep bands from getting loose and falling off.
2. My barrels have no holes? We ship the barrels with no holes so you can add one or two holes where you want. Not everyone wants to use the rack or spout. Use a 3/4 inch spade bit to make the holes where you want. This size hole will fit out bung and spout perfectly. Use a rubber mallet to hammer them in gently. They will also swell up when wet to give you a tight seal.
3. How should the barrel be stored? Barrels are best stored in a cool damp environment such as a wine cellar. This will keep the exterior from drying out and minimize evaporation (Angels Share or Devil's Cut). Sun and wind will dry it out.
4. How many times can I use my barrel? With proper care, you can use your barrel for 8 to 10 years. Following the cleaning and re-charing instructions will insure a long life for your product and be sure to not let your barrel dry out.
5. I left my barrel dry for an extended time. Now it leaks... what do I do? In many cases just re-cure the barrel. If it continues leaking, submerge the barrel in water for a couple of days. After it's been submerged, dry the exterior with a towel and fill it with water to see if it continues to leak. If so, find the leak and apply barrel wax to the hole... You may have to tap the hoops in toward the center of the barrel to tighten up the staves, this should stop the leak.
6. How often do I clean my barrel? When aging hard spirits such as whiskey, rum or tequila, clean the barrel after two or three batches (or every 1 to 2 years). For wine, cider, liquor or other low alcohol content spirits, clean after each batch.
7. How do I clean my barrel? a) Dissolve the Barrel-Kleen into warm water. Fill the barrel with this cleaning solution and soak for 24 hours. Empty and rinse 3 times with hot water.
b) Dissolve the Neutralizing Acid into warm water. Fill the barrel with this neutralizing solution and soak for 15 minutes. Empty and rinse the barrel 3 times with hot water.
c) To re-char the barrel interior, drain the barrel for 3 hours. Place a butane torch in the bung and spigot hole and re-char the inside.
To prevent the barrel from drying out and minimize the possibility of contamination, barrels should always be stored full with spirits or water with sterilizing solution.
8. How do I store my barrel? When storing the barrel fill the barrel with a mixture of sterilizing tablets and cool water. Fill the barrel with the solution and leave in a cool damp place until you are ready to use again.
9. How long do I age my spirits? There's no formula for the perfect time to age your spirits. Age to taste! We suggest you taste your spirits every week and once aged to your taste, start drinking or move it to a glass bottle to stop the aging process.
10. Do smaller barrels age the spirit faster than large barrels? Yes, due to the greater surface or contact area ratio, small size barrels will age 5 to 10 times faster then your standard 53 gallon barrel. These means that one month in a small barrel will produce the equivalent aging to 1 to 1 1/2 years in a full size barrel.