Oak barrels

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White American oak is the most commonly used Oak for barrels, though French and Hungarian oak are both high quality and can be used with excellent results.

A 7 gallon oak barrel

There are three processes that occur when oak barrels are used to age spirits:

  • Evaporation of spirit through dry section of barrel
  • Leaching of oak chemicals into spirit
  • Diffusion of spirits through barrel


Although some barrels are new oak, many have been modified somehow:


If you can not store your spirit for years in a 55 gallon oak barrel, there are some alternatives which provide a reasonable approximation of barrel aging:

  • Put oak chips in your spirit bottle
  • Put charred oak chips in your bottles to simulate bourbon
  • Stopper your bottles with a dry cork to promote evaporation
  • Add sherry to you spirit

During the maturation process in oak barrels, some of the following chemical changes occur in the spirit:

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