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MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:19 pm

Just put the port in. Wonder how long to leave it. Hmm...
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:41 pm

I will keep sherry in mine for 3 weeks. I think the gentleman from the Whisky Lounge blog kept his for 3 or 4 weeks, but do not recall for sure. My thoughts are, since it is a small barrel, contents will mature much faster, and I do not want my barrel to be too impregnated with sherry as to make the whisky which will follow too sherried. I want the oak to still be there.
For what it is worth.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:50 pm

I am thinking of using the two 1L barrel I have for finishing. After maturing in the 5L, I will transfer some to the 1L for maybe another 4 weeks of maturation. Prior to that, I will put sherry in the 1L to 'flavor' it. I thought this is what Macallan does.

How long to put the sherry? 3 weeks looks fine. In my case, I will taste periodically and stop when I think it absorb the sherry enough.

I will not be using the 1L barrel for regular maturation as it loses too much.

Also, I will start weighing the barrels so I have a record on how much evaporation is taking place. And I need a hydrometer to get the ABV too.

I will be ordering 4 5L oak barrel from Mardel Souza. Heyyyy. I am in business. With a total of 6 5L barrel, I should have a ready barrel every two months. But have to wait for a year for the first one.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:07 pm

LeoDLion wrote:I will not be using the 1L barrel for regular maturation as it loses too much.


So you will be keeping sherry in them full time? Or throw cheap stuff in there to keep them wet until you are ready to use them for finish? They need to contain liquid all the time.

Yep, looks like you are in business.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:14 pm

Right now the two 1L have maturing whisky which I just put in a week ago. When done, I will rinse them with water and put water in to keep it wet. When I am ready, I will put sherry for 3-4 weeks before putting the whisky. There's some timing to be done but its fun.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:33 pm

Leo,
Wouldn't water left long enough in the barrel accumulate some kind of bacteria, some good, some bad? The alcohol contained in wine, vinegar or whisky probably takes care of that, but just plain water?
Maybe Alex would know? I might be totally off base here.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:54 pm

OKDiver1 wrote:Leo,
Wouldn't water left long enough in the barrel accumulate some kind of bacteria, some good, some bad? The alcohol contained in wine, vinegar or whisky probably takes care of that, but just plain water?
Maybe Alex would know? I might be totally off base here.

You are right that water long enough will grow bacteria and other nasty things. Its a matter of timing. If the time lag is quite long, I will just let it empty and dry out. Then, wet again with water. Alex said thats the way to do it if the barrel is let to stand dry for quite a long time.

There is also this cleaning kit that you can buy from 1000 Oaks Barrel for $13.95. And re-charring too. This is sometime to do in the future.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 1:07 am

Here is an updated summary of my setup, for those who are interested:
1. Bought a 2L barrel from Mardel Souza (Brownsville, TX - USA). US$26 including shipping.
2. Day 1:
* Rinsed it 3 times with boiling water. Only a few wood particles came out.
* Filled it with water and cured it for 4 full days. I had a minor leak for about the first 12 hours, but nothing after that.
* I topped it off a couple of times - a reasonable amount of water (5 cl) was absorbed by the wood by the end of Day 1, and less by Day 2. Level did not change significantly on Days 3 and 4, perhaps 1/2cl.
4. Day 5:
* Dumped the water, and let drain for an hour or so. Water was a weak yellow in color, and smelled like... wet wood with a little smoke.
* Filled it with Tio Soto (Jose de Soto) Amontillado Sherry, US$8/bottle.
* Laid the barrel and its stand on a white plate (to detect possible leaks), and put a few very wet folded-over paper napkins on the bottom of the plate (underneath the stand).
* I then placed the whole thing in an old 1ft x 1ft x 1ft cardboard box, closed. The purpose of this is to maintain a relative degree of humidity, as well as shade.
5. Day 8: no leaks on the plate. Topped off with about 1cl of sherry, and re-moistened the now-dry towels. I was surprised by how little had evaporated/been absorbed by the wood so early on in the process.
6. Day 13 - UPDATE: No leaks on the plate, and no sticky seepage anywhere on the barrel. Had to pour 2cl of sherry into it (1% of the barrel capacity). Looks like the wood is still absorbing some, as I keep some degree of moisture in the box to prevent too much evaporation. Not too bad, as it has been only about 2 weeks since the start of this experiment.

I will edit this post as the experiment moves along, and add a picture or two.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:47 pm

OKDiver1,
I noticed you said you top it with 1cl of sherrry. Thats interesting.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:55 pm

I do not have scotch in it yet, only sherry. But I refill now, I do not care about the sherry, only about the evaporation. I want the barrel to be as saturated as possible when I put the whisky in it.
Am I making sense?
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Ryguy » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:08 pm

OKDiver1, Very interesting and extremely informative.

I'll definitely be reading up as you continue your experiment. What do you intend to fill it with after the sherry process?
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:34 pm

Ryguy,
I don't quite know yet. At first I wanted to use a McClelland Islay. It is a softer Islay (I am a big Islay fan), and Leo and others have been happy with it in their experiments. I might try something different, but along the lines of a decent entry-level malt, Lismore, Tamdhu 10, or another of the McClellands with a decent amount of peat/smoke. I expect the sherry to give the finished product quite a strong character, and I do not want to waste a good malt that already has a great personality, or enough sherry already. The only thing I am sure of now is that it is not going to be a blend. Maybe at a future time.
Edit: Bowmore Legend might be an option now that I am thinking about it.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Ryguy » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:50 pm

Best of luck with the rest of the experiment, and definitely keep us up to date with what's going on. It makes for very interesting reading. And it's really informative to others who are going through the same thing. Or for people who are thinking about doing it as well. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:58 pm

OKDiver1 wrote:I do not have scotch in it yet, only sherry. But I refill now, I do not care about the sherry, only about the evaporation. I want the barrel to be as saturated as possible when I put the whisky in it.
Am I making sense?

Its good to keep the barrel wet with liquid so I agree with that. However I vaguely remember reading that one should leave a little bit of empty space in the barrel for it "to breath" and turning it every week a quarter turn. So I am not sure which to follow. I suppose if the contents is whisky I would leave some space.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:57 pm

Leo,
I agree.
I am trying to keep it as full as possible now, so no need to rotate it I assume.
When I fill it with whisky I will not top it off, only rotate it 90 degrees every week or so. Hopefully the bung will be tight enough -- might have to play with the adjustment.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:15 pm

OKDiver1,
I just ordered four 5L oak barrels from Mardel Souza. I am thinking of 'seasoning' one of them with sherry like you did but do you know how many bottles that will take? About 7 bottles of 750 ml each. Wow. Thats alot. So maybe not. I can also buy that 7 bottles and use it for all the oak barrels?

What other seasoning can be use? Bourbon whisky! Yeah, I think its time to start dramming bourbon. I need to go to the store and look around, I will need 3 1.75 liter bottles.

So my plan is to put bourbon for about 4 weeks, empty it, and put in the single malt. Repeat process on the next barrel. Of course reuse the bourbon.

What do you think?
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:38 pm

Leo,
Interesting -- you are taking this very seriously. I agree the seasoning part will get expensive at the getgo, but if you think about it, these are 5L barrels and they will last and provide you with whisky for a long time. You have to look at the duration and yield of your "investment". You're putting 7 bottles in, and hopefully will get at least 6 out. Think positive!

If I had two 5L barrels (which I might in the near future -- your fault), I would do one with sherry or port, and the other one with bourbon. Then I would use the same malt in both, and evaluate the differences. They might be good each on its own, or you might like one better than the other. Maybe some vatting could be done. The combinations are endless. I would not limit myself to just one type (bourbon) over 2 barrels, especially if I end up not liking it.

The key will be to pick a malt that might be neutral enough, or strong enough, to be good in both experiments and not create monsters.

This said, I am not sure you would be able to reuse the bourbon in another barrel anyway. Might just get too woody after a while and not season correctly any longer. Or it might even be great to drink, which is what I am thinking.

Interesting challenges.
Let me know what you decide.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:55 pm

I also bought a weigh scale (max weight=44 lbs) because my bathroom scale is not precise enough. And a hydrometer so I can measure the alcohol content. I want to monitor the weight of each barrel as maturation proceeds. I dont know about the alcohol content if I should measure it on a periodic basis, maybe when its just done.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:16 pm

LeoDLion wrote:... because my bathroom scale is not precise enough.

This is what I always tell my wife.

This is turning into an obsession. One day I'll wake up and be surrounded by barrels, hydrometers, scales, empty bottles and hopefully full ones too.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:36 pm

OKDiver1 wrote:
LeoDLion wrote:... because my bathroom scale is not precise enough.

This is what I always tell my wife.

This is turning into an obsession. One day I'll wake up and be surrounded by barrels, hydrometers, scales, empty bottles and hopefully full ones too.

If I am surrounded by those things you mentioned including bottles and bottles of whisky that came from your own oak barrel, that is not too bad isn't it?

Oh did I mention labels? You will need some when the time comes to 'harvest' the product. And sealers. Empty bottles. The list goes on.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:45 pm

Yes, life is good. You just convinced me to place an order with Alex.

You turned Gold, by the way. Congratulations!
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:18 pm

Oh, just reminded me I need to turn the thing...

:thumbsup:
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Thu Apr 17, 2008 1:49 am

Here is an updated summary of my setup, for those who are interested. If you do not want to read the whole thing again, scroll down to the last bullet point, marked UPDATE.
1. Bought a 2L barrel from Mardel Souza (Brownsville, TX - USA). US$26 including shipping.
2. Day 1:
* Rinsed it 3 times with boiling water. Only a few wood particles came out.
* Filled it with water and cured it for 4 full days. I had a minor leak for about the first 12 hours, but nothing after that.
* I topped it off a couple of times - a reasonable amount of water (5 cl) was absorbed by the wood by the end of Day 1, and less by Day 2. Level did not change significantly on Days 3 and 4, perhaps 1/2cl.
4. Day 5:
* Dumped the water, and let drain for an hour or so. Water was a weak yellow in color, and smelled like... wet wood with a little smoke.
* Filled it with Tio Soto (Jose de Soto) Amontillado Sherry, US$8/bottle.
* Laid the barrel and its stand on a white plate (to detect possible leaks), and put a few very wet folded-over paper napkins on the bottom of the plate (underneath the stand).
* I then placed the whole thing in an old 1ft x 1ft x 1ft cardboard box, closed. The purpose of this is to maintain a relative degree of humidity, as well as shade.
5. Day 8: no leaks on the plate. Topped off with about 1cl of sherry, and re-moistened the now-dry towels. I was surprised by how little had evaporated/been absorbed by the wood so early on in the process.
6. Day 13: No leaks on the plate, and no sticky seepage anywhere on the barrel. Had to pour 2cl of sherry into it (1% of the barrel capacity). Looks like the wood is still absorbing some, as I keep some degree of moisture in the box to prevent too much evaporation. Not too bad, as it has been only about 2 weeks since the start of this experiment.
7. Day 17 - UPDATE: a drop of sticky sherry on the plate, and a small bead right under the spigot, where the staves are mated with the top. Hard to say where the leak is coming from. It looks like it just accumulated there. Might come from the fact that I refill up to the lower brim, and pushing the bung down probably increases the pressure inside for a while, forcing liquid out. If that is the cause, not a problem, as it is only sherry for the moment, and I will not refill the whisky later on anyway. The sticky sherry might also act as sealant later. Who knows? Only time will tell.
As Spring is finally here, and temperatures have gone up, I was expecting increased evaporation. Not the case, only the usual 1cl is missing.
Next update will be the bottling of the sherry, and the filling of the barrel with the real deal, whisky. Still not sure what to use though, most likely a McClelland Islay or a Bowmore Legend. Or maybe something else altogether. Decisions, decisions.

I will edit this post as the experiment moves along, and add a picture or two.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:11 pm

Here is an updated summary of my setup, for those who are interested. If you do not want to read the whole thing again, scroll down to the last bullet point, marked UPDATE.
1. Bought a 2L barrel from Mardel Souza (Brownsville, TX - USA). US$26 including shipping.
2. Day 1:
* Rinsed it 3 times with boiling water. Only a few wood particles came out.
* Filled it with water and cured it for 4 full days. I had a minor leak for about the first 12 hours, but nothing after that.
* I topped it off a couple of times - a reasonable amount of water (5 cl) was absorbed by the wood by the end of Day 1, and less by Day 2. Level did not change significantly on Days 3 and 4, perhaps 1/2cl.
4. Day 5:
* Dumped the water, and let drain for an hour or so. Water was a weak yellow in color, and smelled like... wet wood with a little smoke.
* Filled it with Tio Soto (Jose de Soto) Amontillado Sherry, US$8/bottle.
* Laid the barrel and its stand on a white plate (to detect possible leaks), and put a few very wet folded-over paper napkins on the bottom of the plate (underneath the stand).
* I then placed the whole thing in an old 1ft x 1ft x 1ft cardboard box, closed. The purpose of this is to maintain a relative degree of humidity, as well as shade.
5. Day 8: no leaks on the plate. Topped off with about 1cl of sherry, and re-moistened the now-dry towels. I was surprised by how little had evaporated/been absorbed by the wood so early on in the process.
6. Day 13: No leaks on the plate, and no sticky seepage anywhere on the barrel. Had to pour 2cl of sherry into it (1% of the barrel capacity). Looks like the wood is still absorbing some, as I keep some degree of moisture in the box to prevent too much evaporation. Not too bad, as it has been only about 2 weeks since the start of this experiment.
7. Day 17: a drop of sticky sherry on the plate, and a small bead right under the spigot, where the staves are mated with the top. Hard to say where the leak is coming from. It looks like it just accumulated there. Might come from the fact that I refill up to the lower brim, and pushing the bung down probably increases the pressure inside for a while, forcing liquid out. If that is the cause, not a problem, as it is only sherry for the moment, and I will not refill the whisky later on anyway. The sticky sherry might also act as sealant later. Who knows? Only time will tell.
As Spring is finally here, and temperatures have gone up, I was expecting increased evaporation. Not the case, only the usual 1cl is missing.
Next update will be the bottling of the sherry, and the filling of the barrel with the real deal, whisky. Still not sure what to use though, most likely a McClelland Islay or a Bowmore Legend. Or maybe something else altogether. Decisions, decisions.
8. Day 23 - UPDATE: again a small bead of sherry on the outside of the cask, and about 1cl missing. No biggie, but will become a concern if too much whisky seeps out, as from now on I will not refill, to maintain the integrity of the experiment.

Time to empty the sherry, and get a taste. I have kept some original sherry as a control sample. Color has changed very little, but the amontillado was very dark to begin with. Big difference on the nose. Some of the fruit is gone, and replaced with oak -- what a surprise. On the palate, same thing. Not as winey, and some of the fruit is gone. But some sweetness appears, and the finish is definitely longer, thanks to the oak. So far so good.

I looked for some Lismore which from all accounts is a very decent malt, but could not find it locally. My objective is to use an entry-level malt, relatively simple but good, and not possibly waste a higher-price whisky that would result in a botched experiment. I want to build on existing qualities, not destroy them. What is available is the McClelland Islay. Leo had used it, as well as others, so it will not be original. But I like Islays, and am very interested in how the added oak and the sherry will change the peat. So 3 bottles of McClelland Islay it is ($23/bottle -- no 1.75L bottle here). First lesson learned, the cask is supposed to be 2L, but it is not, which I did not notice originally as the sherry bottles were painted gold and impossible to see through. It looks like it is only 1.85L, from what is left of my third 0.75L bottle of McClelland. A bit of a disappointment -- I wanted to get as close to 3 bottles of finished product as possible, especially given the probable evaporation. But the positive is that I have more left of the McClelland to drink now.
The barrel is now resting peacefully in its box, full and happy. The towels are very wet. I will check the moisture every other day or so, and rotate the barrel 90 degrees as advised every week.

And now comes the wait. The next 2 months will test my patience -- so not much in terms of a progress report until then.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:21 pm

Turned it again. Can't remember when I put the port in but since I'm away on holiday on Wednesday I doubt I'd be emptying it any time soon.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:30 pm

butephoto wrote:Turned it again. Can't remember when I put the port in but since I'm away on holiday on Wednesday I doubt I'd be emptying it any time soon.

Bute,
I think you put the Port in on Wed. April 9 -- from what you posted on that day.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:38 pm

OKDiver1,
Looks like your barrel is on its way. Are you planning to taste every week?

My scale arrived last weekend and I weighed all the barrels. Precisioni within a tenth of an ounce. This should tell us what the evaporation rate is. I also bought a hydrometer cheaply for $8 to measure alcohol content. The only thing with the hydrometer is you need plenty of liquid to float the hydro in to measure. Maybe I will measure when its time to bottle.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:55 pm

Leo,
No, I will not taste every week. I am not sure I will be able to tell for one thing on such short intervals, and I do not want to deplete too much of what's in there.

How much liquid do you need to use the hydrometer? Can you pour out a jar or so, measure and then pour it back?
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:37 pm

OKDiver1 wrote:Leo,
...How much liquid do you need to use the hydrometer? Can you pour out a jar or so, measure and then pour it back?

Yes I think there is no harm done in doing that even with a bit of air getting to it. The hydrometer is a long slender piece of glass instrument maybe a foot long. But I just saw something call a hydrometer test jar which is use to put the liquid being measure. I should have bought it, it only cost $4. :cry: Or something called a graduated cylinder we use in school. What you do is put the liquid in the test jar, then put the hydrometer. It floats and the level of the liquid in the hydrometer corresponds to the specific gravity which is directly related to the alcohol ABV. The hydrometer is calibrated and has a small scale for the ABV already.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:17 pm

Leo,
I've seen some of these hydrometers before in wineries. The reading is also based on temperature, right?
Now the question is, if you think too much of the alcohol evaporates, what can you do about it? Pour some cask strength in it? That would be an expensive proposal. Play with the storage temperature (hotter)? Or stop the experiment? The McClelland is only 40%, so that does not leave too much to play with.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:14 am

I think I'm going to get a bottle of Glen Grant 5yo when I'm in Italy this week to put in the cask and age that a bit more.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:28 pm

OKDiver1 wrote:Leo,
I've seen some of these hydrometers before in wineries. The reading is also based on temperature, right?
Now the question is, if you think too much of the alcohol evaporates, what can you do about it? Pour some cask strength in it? That would be an expensive proposal. Play with the storage temperature (hotter)? Or stop the experiment? The McClelland is only 40%, so that does not leave too much to play with.

The density or specific gravity of the liquid is affected by temperature but not much. The ambient temperature we store the barrel should give us correct ABV readings.

I dont know what to do with the excessive evaporation. I am hoping that the 5L oak barrel will have much less loss than the 1L ones. If this is happens to be the case, I will just use my 5L for the regular maturation and use the 1L for finishing at a much shorter period of time like 3-4 weeks.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby LeoDLion » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:34 pm

butephoto wrote:I think I'm going to get a bottle of Glen Grant 5yo when I'm in Italy this week to put in the cask and age that a bit more.

This is good because now we have several different SM in the experiment. I have McClellan Islay and Highlands, Famous Grouse, and Scoresby. OKDiver1 has McClellan Islay and bute has Glen Grant.

I need to pick 4 SM or blends for the coming barrels. I am thinking of Lismore, Glen Parker. Maybe its time to take a look at bourbon whisky too.
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:31 pm

Collector57 wrote:I've put a Glen Moray NAS in mine

C57,
Did you use sherry or port beforehand, or did you go straight from water to whisky? How long has it been? Any thoughts so far?
OKDiver1
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Re: MAKING YOUR OWN WHISKEY FROM 1000 OAKS BARREL CO.

Postby OKDiver1 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:05 pm

Collector57 wrote:I mixed amontillado and fino half and half for seasoning for a few weeks.
It's only been in for three weeks so I haven't touched it yet.

How long before I should take a sample?

I cannot speak for others, but I will wait for at least 2 months before I sample mine. For a couple of main reasons:
1. I am not sure the whisky evolves enough after a few weeks to make a significant difference. I might be wrong.
2. There will be evaporation too, and I do not want to withdraw too much from the barrel too soon.
Leo has a whole battery of barrels, much larger than ours (mine is slightly<2L), with different experiments going on, and I am sure he will chime in with his opinion.
OKDiver1
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