It is believed that only medium-quality alcohol drinks like whiskey can be made at home. People think that such drinks as whiskey, calvados, wine or cognac are made only in large distilleries. In fact, a good cognac can be made even in the home kitchen. To do this you need to have all the necessary components including an oak barrel. Also, the barrel needs to be properly prepared.
How to prepare an oak barrel
A new oak wood barrel will definitely start to leak a little through the cracks. So, it is better to put something under it. Soaking in water should be done in the following order:
- Pour room temperature water into the barrel, close the cork tightly and leave for 3 days in a warm room. The level of the liquid will have to check every 12 hours and freshwater to be poured in if necessary.
- Drain the barrel, fill it with fresh water and leave for another 24 hours.
- Empty the barrel again and add boiling water. It should not be more than 1 liter per 10-liter vessel. Then close the barrel and shake it to treat all surfaces with boiling water. After that, the barrel should not be touched for 45 minutes. Then you will need to pour room temperature water to the brim and close the container again.
- Wait 24 hours and change the water. The water should be changed every 24 hours for 1.5 months until the liquid is absolutely clean.
After this soaking, the oak barrel can be considered complete. It will be ready for aging cognac, whiskey, or other drink. If you are going to make wine it is better to put the distillate after the second distillation and leave it in the cask for 1-1.5 months.
The soaking process can be accelerated by using hot steam. To do this you first need to soak the barrels wood in water for 4 weeks. Then the water is drained and you can start steaming the oak barrel.
The time it will take depends on the volume of the barrel. The larger it is, the faster the steaming will be completed. For example, a 30-liter barrel can be processed in 30 minutes, but the steaming of a 5-liter container will take up to 2 hours. After steaming, the vessel is filled with water for 24 hours. If steaming was successful, the water after a day will be clean and odorless.