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Getting Started: Curing



Coopering is the trade of barrel making and every one of our virgin barrels has been carefully handcrafted by a seasoned professional cooper.  Now, with that said, there is no glue or nails holding your barrel together, only the steel hoops holding everything in place.  The curing process will swell the barrel into the hoops and create a natural seal.  This process usually happens within 3-5 days and on rare occasions, up to a week.  If your barrel does not seal in a week, please contact our customer support team at 941.BARRELS.


Step 1 - Curing your barrel

We understand you are overwhelmed with excitement, however, you must cure your barrel before using it. Skipping this step will definitely result in lost spirits.  Follow these simple step by step instructions to complete the curing process:  

Insert the spigot in the hole on the face of the barrel head.  You can lightly tap it in with a rubber mallet or twist it tightly into position by hand.
After securing the spigot, completely fill your barrel with HOT (not boiling) tap water and store it in a safe place so that when it leaks, it doesn't make a mess.  Leaking is part of the process and perfectly normal at this stage as it is a dry, virgin barrel.  Periodically check the curing progress and continue topping it off with water until any leaking stops.
Once your barrel has sealed, you will continue to let it sit full of water for 3-5 days in order for the barrel to absorb as much water as possible.  You want the barrel absorbing the water, not your precious libations when you start aging your spirits.
After 3-5 days of soaking, your barrel should be fully cured.  To empty the water, remove the bung and and pour the water out through the top bung hole.  Open the spigot to assist with the airflow. You should expect to see some wood debris coming out of the barrel.  This is loose char and sawdust from the holes drilled during the manufacturing process.  A second rinse might be in order to ensure you don't get floaties in your liquor.


Step 2 - Fill your barrel with spirits

 Place your barrel in it's aging stand without the bung and make sure the spigot is in the off position (far left or right).  

Aging Store Bought Brands -  If you are using your barrel to age store bought brands, simply empty that bottle of your favorite brand spirit into the barrel and secure the bung in the top bung hole.
Making Your Own Spirits -  If you purchased our Outlaw Kit then you will be using your barrel to make and age your own spirits.  Pour the essence into your barrel.  Each bottle of essence has unique instructions to achieve that desired flavor result (i.e. - some call for sugar). The size of your barrel is relative to how many bottles of essence you will pour into the barrel.  After adding the essence, add your choice of neutral spirit (rail vodka, grain alcohol or moonshine).Secure the bung in the top bung hole, shake well to mix everything and place the barrel back in the aging stand.  NOTE: If your essence flavor uses 1/2 cup of sugar per liter, then a 3 liter batch would use 2 cups of sugar.


Step 3 - Age to taste and decant

Barrel aging at home is totally subjective to one's taste.  While another person's palette may enjoy it at 27 days, you might like it at 86 days.   This is the beauty and power of owning your mini barrel for aging.  You get to decide when its uniquely yours!  

We recommend keeping a journal & circling the date on your calendar when the batch was started.  Taste it frequently and bear in mind, if you love it on the 32nd day, it doesn't mean you will double love it on the 64th day.

The golden rule is...when it tastes like "God put his hands on it", remove it from the barrel, decant in a bottle and count the days it aged.  This is your unique aging profile and you can recreate that batch over and over again.  

Step 4 - Make another batch or store your barrel

The first batch is complete and sitting in the bottle waiting for your company to arrive.  What to do next?  Well your barrel is counting on you to make that decision quickly.  Empty barrels will dry out, shrink and break that precious seal you waited a week to create!  You have the following options:

Make another batch -  Repeat steps 1-3 above.
Store Your Barrel - Wondering what those white tablets included with your barrel purchase are for?  Well know you know.  They are for storing your barrel between uses.  When spirits are in your barrel, bacteria cant grow because the alcohol content is too high.  When you fill your barrel with water, it's a cool, wet & dark environment that is ideal for bacteria to grow.  You don't want science projects growing in your barrel so dissolve the proper amount of tablets (see Storing Tablet Instruction Card) in water, fill your barrel with it and secure the bung.  This will insure your barrel stays wet and sanitary until you are ready to use your barrel again.  NOTE: Before reusing your barrel after storing, empty contents and triple (3x) rinse your barrel before making your next batch.