Thursday, December 30, 2010

I can stop any time I want. No, really!

So I went out and ordered the Single Malt Barrel Kit yesterday.  I want a whole fleet of barrels!

Really, I want to have them side-by-side to compare.  I think that will be a really cool experiment.  Also, as a beer brewer, I may re-use the barrels to age a bit of beer and serve right from the casks at my basement bar.

I'm going to try to make a post on tasting whiskey later.  We'll see if I'm up for some extended typing - I got a finger injury for Christmas this year.  You can see it in the photos in my first post.  Be safe out there!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More fun than a barrel of...whiskey?

The barrel held water overnight, so I decided to put the whiskey in today.  Instead of hunting down a funnel (which I always make a mess with, anyway) I used one of those little pour spouts.  These are great to have on hand, especially when you have guests over tasting your whiskeys.  They make a neat and controllable pour.

Once you get the aim right and can upend the bottle, it goes quickly.

After both bottles were in, I pulled off about a half ounce through the spigot for two reasons.  First, to make sure every part was wet with spirits - no trapped air bubbles.  And second, to taste it before it ages.

You can see it's crystal clear, not having picked up any color from the barrel yet.  At 124 proof and recently-distilled, I was expecting it to taste like rocket fuel.  Sticking my nose in the glass, I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, my nose was immediately assaulted by hot alcohol, but after that came the unmistakable aroma of rye whiskey.  A taste confirmed it - smooth, with an almost sweet rye finish.  Some water tamed the alcohol bite and is making for a lovely drink.

I put the barrel on top of my cookbook cabinet where I can keep an eye on it while it ages.  I'll be taking samples and making tasting notes about once a month.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Angel's Share

If you've never heard of the Angel's Share, it's a term used in wine and whiskey making.  The spirit is aged in oak barrels.  Over time, some percentage of the liquid is lost to evaporation.  This is the share taken by the guardian angels who watch over the barrels.

I'm starting this blog to document the progress of barrel-aging whiskey at home. I am an avid homebrewer of beer (have you seen my Benderator blog?), and a whiskey/whisky lover and collector.  I'm often asked when I'm going to make my own whiskey.

Home distilling is illegal here in the US, but aging already-distilled spirits is not.  I was given a Wasmund's Barrel Kit from the Copper Fox Distillery for Christmas. It includes 2, 750mL bottles of 124 proof Single Malt or Rye spirits (I have a soft spot for a good rye, and Santa got wind of it) and a two-liter charred American White Oak mini-barrel.

I'm terribly amused by one of the distillers' names, by the way.

I've currently got the barrel filled with water to swell the staves so it doesn't leak.  More tomorrow!