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How to clean an ageing barrel

How to clean an ageing barrel



Once you have the spirit ageing bug, you will want to dive back in and have another go. Drinking your spirit will take a lot less time than ageing it, so the sooner you start again, the sooner you can enjoy your spoils. Learn how to clean an ageing barrel to prolong its lifespan and maintain its effectiveness. When you have decanted your aged spirit from your barrel, how do you prepare for the next batch?

How often do I clean my barrel?

If you intend to age a different spirit in the barrel and don’t want to retain any flavours from the previous batch, then clean the barrel before using. Note that cleaning the barrel is not a guarantee of removing the flavours of the previous batch. We recommend using different barrels for different spirits. When using a barrel for the same spirit, there is no immediate need to clean it between batches. Cleaning your barrel will take away some of the charred surface and shorten its lifespan. We recommend you only clean the barrel every couple of years. With proper barrel care, your cask could last for 8 to 10 years.

Please Note: If you are using your barrel to age wine, beer, or low alcohol content spirits, we recommend cleaning after each batch. However, as mentioned before, this will reduce the lifespan of the barrel

How Do I Clean My Oak Barrel?

Please source a barrel cleaning/maintenance kit to clean your barrel, and follow all included instructions. A good barrel care kit will include:

  • Cleaning Tablets
  • Neutralising Acid
  • Sterilising Tablets
To clean your oak barrel, follow these simple steps.
  1. Fill the barrel with a solution of cleaning tablets and warm water
  2. Leave to soak for 24 hours
  3. Empty the barrel and rinse through 3 times
  4. Fill the barrel with a solution of neutralising acid and warm water
  5. Leave to soak for 15 minutes
  6. Empty the barrel and rinse through 3 times

These guidelines are a basic set of rules. Please refer to the cleaning solution instructions for the correct solution ratio and soaking times.

Re Charring

The charring of your barrel will slowly lose its effects with each batch and slow the ageing process in new batches. It is the charred surface that helps the spirit interact with the tannins and vanillin in the wood. Charring your barrel should be done every 2 to 3 years to maintain the lifespan and retain its effectiveness during ageing. To re-char your barrel, use a butane lighter with a flexible neck. Flexible lighters are available in hardware and camping stores for lighting campfires and barbeques.

How to Re-Char An Oak Barrel

  1. Remove the bung and spigot from the barrel
  2. Leave the barrel to air dry for 3 hours
  3. Insert a flexible butane lighter in to the spigot hole
  4. Ignite the lighter and slowly turn the barrel to add a fresh char
  5. Rinse the barrel to remove any loose debris
  6. Fill the barrel with a solution of sterilising tablets and water. Leave for a few minutes, then empty
  7. Rinse the barrel 3 times

Storing An Oak Ageing Barrel

If you don’t plan to use your barrel for a period of time, make sure to store it filled with water mixed with storing tablets. Store the barrel in a cool, temperature controlled environment. Empty and refill the barrel with a fresh solution of water and storing tablets once a month. Please see the respective storing tablet instructions for the correct solution ratio. When you are ready to use your barrel again, empty the storage solution and rinse 3 times with warm water. See our Oak Barrel Storage Instructions for more details.

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