It’s a classic image – oak barrels stacked on top of one another, cradling precious elixirs of wine, whiskey (our favorite), rum, and other fine alcoholic beverages. But why are we still using these barrels when we have some of the world’s best technology at our fingertips? Well, let’s just put it this way, it is a tradition with a long history of people with good taste.
A Long History
While it’s often a challenge to date due to the decay of wood over time, many scholars believe that oak barrel aging was used as far back as the days of the ancient Celts and Anglo-Saxons. Later, people began charring the barrels to sterilize them, keeping the nasty parasites, bacteria, and other contaminants out of their drinks.
Oak barrels became the standard of choice in the 19th century when shipbuilders began relying on metals, not woods like oak, to build their vessels. The oak barrel was also strong and resilient, almost guaranteeing that it would bring its contents to their destination safely. Such barrels even took bourbon down the Mississippi, carefully stored away on the famous stern-wheeled paddleboats.
Why Use Oak Today?
Sure, it may be fun to sit and daydream about the whiskey barrels of old, but there are a couple of other reasons we still use oak barrels for aging spirits today. The slightly porous structure of the wood that makes up the barrel is essential to several key reactions that mellow a distilled spirit as it ages, and, along with its hardy nature oak doesn’t seep resins into its contents the way other woods do.
One of the main charred oak barrel benefits, however, is that special taste we all know and love. Charred oak barrels consistently give their contents a unique flavor and unrivaled complexity, time and time again. This distinctive taste helps create some of the best whiskey, rum, and bourbon in the business. It doesn’t stop there, though; many people use this traditional container when they make barbecue sauce, tequila, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, and much more. So, what are you waiting for? We can’t wait to hear what you make in your oak barrels for aging from Moonshine Distiller..