How to Prepare a New Barrel Before Use

by | Apr 13, 2015 | Mixology | 6 comments

We’ve talked about barrel aging cocktails before, but didn’t go into a lot of detail on the barrel preparation process. Today, we’re doing just that!

… and before I forget, a special thanks to Deep South Barrels for sending us the barrel we used in this clip!

Preparing & Curing your Barrel:

How to Cure & Clean Your Barrel:

Rinse & Soak your Spigot & Plug:

Rinse your spigot and plug in water, then drop them in a glass of water for about half an hour. I’ll usually put something on top (like a jigger) to make sure they are fully unde water.

Thoroughly Rinse the Barrel

Using a funnel, start to pour water into the top of your barrel, let it flow through and out the hole at the bottom. This makes sure the holes are both clear and helps remove any larger wood pieces that may still be in the barrel.

Once you’ve run a good amount of water through, plug the bottom hole with your thumb and pour another liter or so of water in. (I usually fill it about half full.)

Cover the top hole with your other thumb and give it a good shake. This will loosen any other bits of wood that are still inside and give the barrel a good rise. Shake well and drain.

Install the Spigot

Now you’re ready to install the spigot. Using some padding (I used a folded up napkin) and a hammer, line up the spigot with the hole on the front and gently tap it in. It’ll be a tight fit – it should be. But take your time on this step because you don’t want to split your spigot.

Patience, Please!

Now that your spigot is installed, fill the sealed barrel with warm water, all the way to the top. The barrel may not be perfectly watertight yet, so put it in your sink or on a cookie sheet to catch any drips.

Let it sit for 6-24 hours. The water will soak into the wood, allowing it to expand and making the barrel completely water-tight.

Drain the barrel well and you’re ready to use it!

What’s Next?

We’re debating what we should do next with this barrel. Is there anything you’d like to know how to do? Let us know in the comments!