Did you know that when it comes to alcohol production, the smaller the barrel the quicker the aging process? Every distiller has different systems and philosophies for barrel-aging, but each acknowledges that it is an extremely important step to develop the flavors and aromas of the spirit.

Understanding the barrel-aging process can help the discerning consumer make informed decisions about liquor sourcing and manufacturing. As an alcohol professional, you can gain a better understanding and appreciation of the spirit industry by understanding technical terms such as barrel-aging.

Here are some of the alcohol barreling basics:

  • Barrel-Aging

  • Why Alcohol Should Undergo Barreling

  • Types of Spirits that Require Barrel Aging

  • Brindiamo Group can Help


As its name implies, barrel-aging is the process of aging spirits in a wooden barrel. Even though barrel-aging seems like a simple process, it is a combination of art and science that requires knowledge, skill, and endless practice. Alchemy, in essence, is the process of altering spirits through spontaneous and planned chemical reactions between air, liquid, and matter.

As a rule of thumb, different spirits need different barrels. For example, bourbon can only be made with new charred oak barrels, while whiskeys do well with barrels previously used for bourbon or sherry. When aging and positioning spirits, master distillers consider the barrel type, char, and history along with environmental factors such as humidity, temperature, and climate.

Varying barrel wood achieves:

  1. In addition to introducing oxygen to the spirit, the type of barrel wood provides the aging spirit with natural wood flavors. As a result, if the barrel has previously aged another spirit, such as whiskey, it may also contain traces of that spirit, which can often be a desirable element.

  2. American and French oak are the most commonly used types of wood in barrel aging. Nonetheless, distillers tend to use cedar, hickory, and maple. Because of its natural low tannin content and production process, American oak provides a stronger vanilla flavor and smoke.

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Why Alcohol Should Undergo Barreling

A whiskey’s character is determined by its aging process, as barrel-aging is a crucial step in producing flavorful, aromatic spirits. A barrel-aged spirit isn’t just enhanced in flavor, aroma, and finish, but it also reduces the ethanol content, thus removing the harsh rubbing alcohol taste. Barrels were initially used because they were more suitable for transportation on ships than clay pots.

Besides not shattering easily, their round shape allows workers to roll the container instead of hauling it with multiple people. However, people soon noticed that the wood barrel actually improved the flavor, aroma, and finish of the liquor inside. Fortunately, this happy accident has created the skilled practice of barrel-aging spirits, wines, and beers to enhance their flavor.

Types of Spirits that Require Barrel Aging

Spirits with deep and spicy flavor profiles age particularly well. Among these are whiskeys, rums, and bourbons. In general, spirits like vodka, gin, and tequila are not barrel aged as the barrel would not significantly alter the flavor of the spirit. Though, it all comes down to the distilling method used.

With this in mind, there are 2 methods of distilling, pot and column. Distillation in the pot involves heating fermented liquids and collecting the vaporized products. In contrast, column distillation forces the fermented liquid through columns surrounded by steam. The only notable exception to the rule of barrel-aging for pot-distilled spirits is bourbon, which is column-distilled. The scope of barrel-aging is so complex that this brief explanation barely scratches the surface. Nevertheless, barrel-aged liquor is capable of bringing out flavors that you had never imagined would be possible.

Brindiamo Group can Help

Logistics and sourcing are major challenges for any product-driven business and those operating in the adult beverage industry are no exception. Nobody knows this better than we do. Each one of our team members comes from an entrepreneurial background and have lifetimes of experience solving these very problems.

Why waste precious time and energy on sourcing when we could pick up the phone and set you up with one of our trusted industry partners in a matter of hours? At Brindiamo, we are proud to provide comprehensive sourcing solutions to our clients.

We have built a reputation for making sourcing as fast and efficient as possible with practical, sustainable solutions. We are able to do this thanks to our first-hand experience running businesses within the adult beverage industry and personal relationships with suppliers. Our team will take a leading role in implementing and managing reliable protocols. We do this by:

  • Evaluating & implementing sound investment allocations

  • Identifying compatible opportunities in the marketplace

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