I decided I’m going to refer to this as my little barrel of joy. I bought this kit back in January – a bottle of unaged barreling strength OYO rye whiskey with an itty bitty barrel and two Glencairn glasses (nice touch, but those weren’t really what I would call necessary).
I have to confess, the most tempting part about the kit was the barrel itself. It was so cute that I just couldn’t resist, and I also figured that it would be a good thing to write about since I’m supposed to be some kind of whiskey blogger…or something. Anyway, after I got it home I was incredibly impatient to put the whiskey in there and get it to aging. But I found out that you have to swell the barrel up so it doesn’t leak – which takes a few days. Or did for me. I learned that it’s much better to use hot water for that, so keep that in mind should you be the kind of person who decides to do this kind of thing. Not boiling, but heat it up on the stove until it’s just starting to bubble before putting it in the barrel. Oh, hell, I don’t know, maybe boiling would work too. I’m still not sure I let it swell enough, but I guess you live and learn.
Now that I’m finally writing about this I feel like I should have taken more pictures along the way. The whiskey went into the barrel on the evening of January 30, so it’s been aging at this point for 43 days. I remember when I was filling it that it felt like it would be FOREVER before I had something I thought was drinkable. And now all the sudden it’s been a month and a half, and all those pictures I was going to take as it aged never happened.
Wait…does that make me like, a bad parent or something? (Ouch, I used a gratuitous “like” in a sentence…just know that it hurt me to write it as much as it hurt you to read it.)
I have noticed that the barrel leaks sometimes – but it seems to only do it right before it rains or snows. I suspect it could be some kind of atmospheric pressure thing, although I can’t say that for sure. It never seems to be too significant, so I’m not too worried about it, and it gives off a nice smell that you just get a little whiff of when you’re walking by it.
If you’ll allow me to make a repetitive statement, I really wish I had gotten a picture of the whiskey earlier in the aging process. It started off completely clear (I’m sure if you’ve been to the liquor section anywhere you’ve seen bottles of Death’s Door or some other white whiskey – it looked like that) and has been changing color the older it gets. The last time I poured any off to look at it was about a month ago at this point and it had a very slight pink tinge. Tonight when I poured some off I was surprised to see how golden it is now!
The smell is amazing. lots of oak and some toffee sweetness. It’s hard to tell if the heat in the taste is because of the rye, or because of how young it is (maybe a combination of both), but it’s definitely warm on the tongue. And the oak flavor is really prominent too. I realize that it’s the whole point of the thing, but it still amazes me just how much it’s changed from when I first put it in the barrel. Once I get to the point that I decide to put this back in the bottle and start a new batch, I think I’ll try to find something good to age that isn’t a rye whiskey. But that’s a ways off at this point – I’d like to at least give this one another month and check on it again to see how it’s doing.
And have no fear, I’ll report in on it again to tell you how it’s going. It’s easier than I thought it would be to let this stuff age unbothered – at first I wanted to taste it every week and look at it and wish it had done something more dramatic. Patience can be difficult, but at least it’s rewarding!