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Old 04-22-2009, 12:40 AM   #1
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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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Old 04-22-2009, 08:05 AM   #2
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Good thread, I believe rumelier has some info on this topic on his site. 1st, fill the barrel with water to make sure there are no leaks, and it also lets the wood absorb the water to tighten the barrel and less loss to the angels. As for rum...if going overproof maybe wray and nephew or bacardi 151? I've heard that Brugal works well and is usually easy on the wallet, then again HC sounds good too. As far as the cold evaporating water not alcohol I presume Arctic Wolf is up there in Canada or atleast someplace dry and cold so he would have the same experience. If you can't rechar a barrel with a torch, maybe throw in some charcoal and role it around the drive way? Whats the worst that can happen, you might get a bonfire and get to show your neighbors who's boss.
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:15 AM   #3
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Very interesting thread.

I am quite intrigued with doing my own barrel-aging as a result of Artic's other thread too.

Glad there's a place here for everyone to post questions and results (and just as importantly - errors and warnings!)

For those venturing out on this ledge - keep us apprised of your results!
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:39 AM   #4
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The higher the proof the faster the evaporation rate. Many rum producers lower the distillate from the still before putting in barrels to age, to slow the evaporation rate. I would use a fairly neutral tasting white rum of 40% alcohol by volume if you want to see the most changes in the rum, maybe one from your bottom shelf while you are experimenting. Nearly all rums are a blend of many rums, re-aging the rum may not always be beneficial with a quality rum, as you will alter the blend and can over oak it.
Add oak chips for faster oak influence. The port influence sounds interesting and I'm sure would be beneficial. I think I will try the port angle myself. What would be better, tawny or ruby port?
Has anybody tried a rum/port cocktail??????
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by TheRumelier View Post
Has anybody tried a rum/port cocktail??????
I think that combination would work well - here's a drink recipe I picked up a couple of weeks ago that I have been loving a lot - and I think it may work well in a sweet instead of bitter direction if you sub port for the punt e mes:

.75 oz Old Monk Rum
.75 oz Rye
.50 oz Benedictine
1.0 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash bitters
Stir & strain into cocktail glass.

Yeah, I'm gonna try that with some port instead.
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Old 04-22-2009, 01:20 PM   #6
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I would expect a new high quality charred oak barrel made with sap free wood would be a great way to age Rum at home.My experiences are with putting Bourbon back in barrels - or putting charred wood in the Bourbon for test purposes.

I did my first test batch of Rum recently and it seems easier to get a good outcome than with whiskey.
I started with Cruzan 2yr white Rum. In a large jar I put the Rum and charred Wild Cherry wood. It slowly turned golden brown and the spirt showed some added smoothness. Being impatient I then removed the Cherry wood and put charred White Oak pieces in - the Rum gained a wood taste and got darker relatively quickly. Within a couple of weeks it was over oaked. Not much Rum taste - just smoke, char and wood. I was able to get a taste I like by blending it with other Rums. It's still not a sipper but makes a great "smokey cocktail". A very different taste than anything available commercially.

I would suggest experimenting with something like Ball Jars and pieces of charred wood to get a sense of what flavors and characteristics you will be adding. When you get your barrel(s) make sure the wood the barrel is made from is well aged and sap free as the sap will guarantee a bitter tannin taste. I would recommend buying from a company that made barrels in the US out of American White Oak as a starting point.
Some sources;

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Old 04-22-2009, 02:19 PM   #7
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Great Thread

I do live in a cold climate with low humidity so the evaporation rate is very high. In B.C. where you are you will have to decide if the humidity in your house (or where ever you are doing this is high or low). My understanding is that alcohol will evaporate faster than the water unless you are in hot dry conditions outdoors. Kind of like a hot desert or prairie condition. Indoors Alcohol will almost certainly evaporate faster. (my understanding is frequently wrong but my experience has been a substantial drop in alcohol content in every batch I have done.)

The thicker wall of a five litre barrel will mitigate this.

If I understand what you are trying to do Vann Patt then I would suggest this technique for your first batch.

Step 1

Fill your Barrel with hot water from your tap and let it sit to see if it leaks. If it does not leak then leave the water in for seven days turning one third each day. This initial sitting with just water will help eliinate some of the harshest tannins from the barrel.

If you barrel leaks then you need to place it in a bucket of water and soak it for a week before you do this.

Step 2

Fill your barrel about 1/3 full of Port. Turn your barrel about 1/4 each 2 days and let the port sit for two to four weeks. (with your larger barrel I suspect yoou need to leave it in longer than I would in a smaller barrel.)

Step 3

Take out and rebottle your Port. You may actually have improved it slightly although you will still be at the stage where harsher tannins are coming out of the barrel. (By the way I might be tempted to leave the water in at step 1 for a longer time frame to eliminate more harsh flavours)

Step 4

Do not flush the barrel! After draining the port just fill with rum as full as you can. Let the Rum sit and turn the barrel once a week a quarter turn. (If you are less than half full I would recommend more frequent turning)

Step 5

After four weeks start to draw a small sample out and taste. Write you impressions down and keep a log of each weekly sample. When you have achieved something good then bottle your success.

(Please do not consider me an expert. I am a trail and error kind of guy and anybody with other experience or information should correct my procedure.)
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:59 PM   #8
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I really want to try this but I live in a townhome with almost no room.

What about storing the barrel? I've heard (regarding bourbon anyway) that the method of storing is also important IE brick warehouse vs steel and upper part of warehouse vs lower.

What about temperature control? I would imagine that the temp in the storage area would have to be consistent.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:36 PM   #9
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Truly a great thread!

I have begun my (re-)finishing project on a smaller scale with a 3 gallon carboy with a medium toast oak spiral. Cruzan 14 month light rum is the spirit that I am aging. In 2 days, the rum has taken on a medium borwn hue.

Thanks, again, to Arctic Wolf for getting me going!
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Old 04-22-2009, 10:01 PM   #10
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Small new barrels are particularly aggressive so don't leave your rum without checking up on it regularly.

As for climate, in a home environment, I'd suggest a warm place. A cold cellar isn't going to enhance the maturation process due in part because maturation is a combination of chemical processes whose progress is directly proportional to the temperature.

The variables are limitless and after a few agings the barrel characteristics will change. All the best.
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