When I started writing this post, lemme tell ya, I had SUCH a more obnoxious title in mind for it, buuuut I spared you all the misery of my mediocre vocabulary. Anyway…
Right now you’re thinking, “wasn’t her last post about this barrel too?” Yes. It certainly was. You may also remember that I ended that post (and if not, go and read it, ya slacker!) saying that I was going to age my whiskey for another month……well, that didn’t work out. I got curious, and decided to empty the barrel back into the bottle to see how much was left.
Cue dramatic music, because here it is:
Yeah, I know. There’s less than a cup of liquid left in there. So that little barrel leak I had? It wasn’t so little after all. I decided not to put it back in the barrel and chalked the whole thing up to a learning experience and moved on with life. After a stop at the local liquor store (I ❤ you, Weilands Gourmet Market) to replace the unaged whiskey and some magic Google powers, I returned to the barrel with a plan for doing it better next time.
Step 1. I soaked that bastard for days.
Fortunately for me, we happen to have a big pot that the barrel will just fit into. I boiled water, filled the barrel with it, then put the barrel into the remaining hot water and topped it off. I didn’t actually boil the water with the barrel in it, but the barrel went in as close to boiling temperature as possible. For three nights, I came home from work, emptied the barrel and pot, boiled some more water, and started the process over. On the fourth night I decided that the barrel was as swelled up as I was going to be able to get it.
Step 2. I filled the barrel back up with unaged corn whiskey.
This time around, I chose Hudson New York corn whiskey. I had a hell of a time getting the wax off of the lid so I could open it – it was so bad that I was ready to do something really drastic (and possibly involving hammers) to get into the bottle. Once I finally cut through the wax, I tried to pull the cork and the top of the lid came off. Tragedy! Or at least aggravation. I went off to find pliers (I think I ended up using one of those adjustable wrenches) and at long last I had access to my precious liquid.
After the struggle of opening the bottle, it was but the work of a moment to pour it all into the barrel. If you were wondering, a 750ml bottle only fills the barrel about halfway (as far as I can tell). And that picture took some major coordination for me to get, so make sure you take a moment to appreciate it.
I did taste the whiskey before I put it into the barrel this time. As usual, I had a hard time with the thick, sweet flavor of it. I still can’t believe something like that turns into good whiskey. It seemed to be good, for a white whiskey, which just isn’t my preference so you’ll have to forgive me for not liking it.
Step 3. Rotate the barrel
It’s a little hard to document this one with pictures. Sure, I could show you pictures of the barrel facing two different directions, but what’s the point? Anyway, this is where the Google magic came in. On some forum somewhere, I saw an answer that suggested that the fact that the barrel isn’t completely full has something to do with why it would get dry in places and leak. Therefore, rotating the barrel to make sure that all of the insides get some liquid attention could solve it.
March 22 (2013, of course) was the date that the new whiskey went into the barrel. To be honest, I feel like it’s been much longer than that, but I guess not as much time has gone by as I thought. I rotate the barrel once every couple of days or so. I don’t know if it’s that, or the additional soaking I gave it, but so far there haven’t been any obvious leaks even on rainy days. I haven’t pulled any whiskey yet to taste it, but I’ll think about it in a couple of weeks. Once I get to that point, I’ll report back in.