How to cure an oak barrel
To enjoy your aged spirits you must first go through the process of barrel curing. If you don’t cure the barrel you will not be able to use it.
Curing is the process of soaking the wood so it does not absorb your precious spirits during aging. Having the wood absorb moisture will make it expand. The curing process helps to get rid of any gaps in the wood and gives the hoops a tighter grip.
When you first receive your barrel you may notice small gaps in the staves, or loosened hoops. This is normal as changes in temperature and humidity will cause the wood to expand or shrink in transit. As our barrels are handmade in America, they have a long journey before reaching you.
Do no nail or screw the hoops into place. This will damage your barrel.
Before curing your barrel tightly, insert the spigot using a rubber mallet.
What is barrel curing?
The curing process helps you identify leaks in your barrel. All barrels are made without any prolonged contact with moisture, so upon arrival they aren’t yet ready for use. When you fill your barrel for the first time there will almost certainly be leaks.
How long does it take to cure the barrel?
The curing process can take up to a week, but this is an essential part of barrel aging. Each barrel is unique, as the wood from each tree is unique. There is no set time for the barrel curing process.
How to cure an oak barrel
Rinse your barrel three (3) times with water to remove any loose charred debris. Fill the barrel from the top and flush it through the spigot. Fill the barrel with warm water and insert the bung. Make sure to fill the barrel to the top and can’t fit any more in. Every part of the inside of the barrel needs to be in contact with the water.
If you identify leaks in your barrel, apply a small amount of barrel wax to the leaking area. Push the wax into the hole until the leaking stops. Top up with water after fixing any leaks. Leave the barrel in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. We recommend placing the barrel on a drip tray to prevent damage to any surfaces. Check for leaks periodically and apply barrel wax where needed.
Regularly top up with water to ensure all parts of the barrel absorb water.
The barrel is ready when it can hold water for at least three hours. Once your barrel has stopped leaking, rinse it through three (3) times. Allow the barrel to dry for three hours before filling with your spirits.
Your barrel is now ready to age spirits. Read our guide on How to Barrel-Age Spirits for more information.