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Old 04-22-2009, 01:40 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Default Enhancing Rum in your own Oak Barrels

I was inspired by Arctic Wolf's thread "what to open next" to start a new thread on enhancing and aging rum with your own oak barrels. I've just ordered my first barrel so I look forward to hearing from all of your experiences with modifying rum! I can't find much information on the web on the topic so I'm going to rely heavily on your experience. Sorry for the long post.

My question:

"Just ordered a 5 litre barrel from the 1000 Oaks Barrel Co. I'm going to age some port in it first as I have a batch that is due and then am thinking of enhancing some rum in this afterwards. I think I'll go with a rum that is at least moderately aged because I'll just have it the barrel a short time to bring in the port flavours. Does anyone have any suggestions of rums I could try? I was thinking maybe the FDC 5 YR or perhaps the Bacardi 8.

For those of you who have done this before, can I age multiple batches of rum after the port batch or do I need to clean it out and start over after one rum batch?"

Arctic Wolf's Response:

"Good Question

Here is my take which may or may not be good advise.

First on the Port you are using. I personally do not know of many Port cask rums so you are really in undiscovered country there. I really think the robust taste profile of fdc or bicardi 8yr make them unsuitable for acing in port. You want the port to influence the taste profile. The Port may add some fruitiness to the rum so if you want to really taste the port you should go with a light rum with a low aging. I try to use clear or light spirits.

Secondly you should be aware that these small casks really evaporate alcohol fast. So you want to grab an overproof rum with a alcohol content of 50 % or higher. This way you will still have a suitable alcohol content when you are done.

As for reusing the cask over and over, I think a bit of trial and error is in order. I flush my cask with hot water after each use, and leave the water in for a week to clean it. Then I refill it with port again. I leave the port in for two weeks and then leave my spirit in for 8 to 12 weeks. I have noticed that I must leave each successive batch in a little longer than the last.

I plan to rechar my barrel with a propane torch after it has been in use for one year. Your barrel will be five times larger than mine with presumably a thicker oak wall. This will slow the evaporation and impart oak for a longer time period. This means I think that you will need to leave the rum in longer than I to get the benefit. You should achieve a fuller flavour for your efforts though.

I hope that helps."

I've seen a number of Scotch Whiskey's that are Port Enhanced so I thought this might be a good match with Rum. I appreciate your thoughts on the light rums to bring out the fruitiness of the port so I'll look into some good whites like Appleton or FDC's 4 YR Dry or perhaps Havana Club's aged white.

As for the strength, I've read that in lower humidity that you lose more water than alcohol so in the Canadian climate (at least in BC) wouldn't it be better to have a lower proof rum? Would there be a difference between the 5 litre that I have and the 1 litre you own?? Is there a way to test the alcohol level beyond just tasting it? If I'm just acing it with the port barrel should I have the rum in for a shorter period?

Can you really char a small barrel with a butane torch? I can't see how you'd get all of the surface area toasted through one of the small openings.

Just to clarify, do you flush the barrel out for one week after something like a port wine before the rum, or do you just rinse and go right to the rum?
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