Aging whiskey at home

I have a small, 2.5 litre oak barrel from Copper Fox Distillery that I am aging white whiskey in. I bottled my first batch a couple of days ago after about 4 months in the barrel. From what I’ve read, given the small size of the batch and the barrel surface to whiskey volume, 4 months is about the ideal time for aging whiskey in a barrel this size.

What would the likely outcome be if I were to age a white whiskey in such a small barrel for a year or more? Is it likely that it would be undrinkable? I have a hunch that there wouldn’t be much of a differnece from whiskey aged to only 4 months and that there isn’t much point to such a long time in such a small barrel.

Anyone have any experience in whiskey aging? Also, next I want to age my own bourbon (ish) whiskey, anyone know a good white corn whiskey?

No, but it sounds like something I’d like to try!

At some point in the aging process, you run out of sugars and other interesting flavors in the wood/charcoal interface in the barrel and start pulling out just tannins and other astringent flavors. Exactly when that happens is dependent on the barrel, the flavors of the base whiskey, environmental conditions and subjective taste preferences. This point is reached much sooner in the smaller barrels, but there’s not a lot of data yet as this is still a new thing.

Buffalo Trace did an experiment with 5, 10, and 15 gallon barrels aged for 5 years, and everyone agreed that the result was terrible, with the 15 gallon being the best of a bad lot. So you can say five years is comfortably going to be too much, but that also says nothing about where the line is. You probably have to do what the big boys do, which is taste regularly and dump the barrel when it has hit its peak in your estimation.

The Small Barrel Debate.
Buffalo Trace Proves Small Barrels Don’t Work.
“Small Barrels” Now On Kindle.

I’m sorry I have no facts to contribute but I am willing to be a test subject to assist the OP or any others who might be trying this out…

ETA: I love that the fun links were provided by someone who calls himself Pork Rind.

Thanks, this confirms my gut feeling that there is a tipping point and after that, there’s not much point in continuing to age. This is supported by the fact that a sample of my last batch from 3 months didn’t taste that much diferent from a sample of a batch from 4 months.

I just casked rye last night. Someone talk me out of dropping a vanilla bean in the barrel before it’s too late.

I also did the Copper Fox barrel aging. I’m curious as to what you think of the taste. I let mine go six months. It was fun, and interesting, but I can’t say I love the finished product. I use it sparingly to make Manhattans, but I do not like it straight up.

I like it with water okay, but it is nowhere near as good as Copper Fox’s rye and their Wasmund’s Single Malt, which I usually take neat. I had a poker game last week and we all had a taste, its 125 proof so if you don’t add water, it’s pretty intense.

While I was aging this whiskey, I happened to be near the Copper Fox distillery and I popped in. they gave me some wood chips to add to the barrel and advice on aging my own whiskey (they also gave me a couple of whiskey glasses). If you are ever in Sperryville, VA, they are super nice people and it’s great fun to watch them make thie whiskey by hand, right down to putting the label on the bottle and signing it, one at a time.

I might do that but leave the bean in a strainer basket or something you can pull out after a few days in case the flavor starts to overwhelm the spirits. You using that barrel again, or is this another new one?

That actually sounds like a good idea. There are a lot of people who infuse their own liqueurs, so you might look around for recipes and ideas.

I’m using the same barrel. My theory is, I’m not going to make whiskey better than I can buy, so I might as well try different and interesting things. My neighbor was over for a taste and he said it best: “look, you’re aging it yourself because it’s cool to have a whiskey barrel on you bar and have a glass from your own reserve. If you were doing it to save money on your whiskey bill, that’s a whole other set of problems.”

Just be aware that the flavoring agents in the barrel get depleted and your spirit will need longer aging with each filling. Rye and bourbon makers here in the US only use each barrel one time. Those used barrels get shipped overseas, primarily to scotch distillers. That’s one big reason scotch withstands longer aging than bourbon typically can handle. The barrels already have a lot of the intensity sucked out already.

Yeah, I’m kind of hoping that the whiskey will take longer to age this time, I’d like it to mellow a bit more before dumping. I was talking to the distiller at Copper Fox and he thought I should be able to age a few batches with a single barrel. He’s real big on adding charred wood chips to his small batches.