Can Bottled Whiskey Be Improved Upon With Whiskey Aging Staves?
When it comes to whiskey, there seems to be a recent trend of innovators pushing the envelope of traditional distilling and aging of whiskey. Whether it's "disruptive pressure-aging® technology" to rapidly speed up the aging process, or the use of untraditional and unique grains in the mash bill, experimentation in the world of whiskey is here to stay. There are many skeptics of these processes out there, and rightfully so, but there's value to innovation and some of the world's greatest breakthroughs have come from a multitiude of previous failures. One such movement that is fairly new, is the use of whiskey aging staves that are actually placed in the finished bottle of whiskey for 1 week to 4 weeks in order to change the flavor profiles of the bottled whiskey.
In the traditional barrel aging process, an oak barrel transforms harsh, burning, raw distillate (moonshine) into sweet, smooth, enjoyable whiskey. Over time, the barrel smooths out the alcohol burn, and adds depth and flavor to the moonshine, dramatically improving its quality. The longer it ages, the smoother and more flavorful it gets.
The bottle aging staves let you continue the aging process of alcohol at home with multiple types of wood. Patent Pending Bottle Aging Staves™ are designed to simulate a barrel, and they take over where the original aging barrel left off. You purchase your own 750ml bottle of alcohol from any liquor store. Bourbon, Whiskey, Scotch, Rum, Moonshine, Tequila, or Cocktails, you call it. You chose the type of Bottle Aging Stave. You chose how long to age it. Place the Bottle Aging Stave in your bottle of alcohol, and let it rest for 1 week to 3 months. It's that simple. Plus, each stave can be used multiple times.
The aging staves come in different flavor profiles based upon the type of wood. One of the more standard aging staves is the American White Oak stave that has been naturally weathered for 3 years. Only the highest quality barrels are made from this wood. It has undergone a proprietary 3 step heat treating process that is designed to let the stave take over where the barrel left off. The recommended aging time is for 1-4 weeks, but the sweet spot is 2-3 weeks. It is reusable, but let it air dry for 1 month in-between uses. It is recommended that you let the flavors "marry" for a few weeks after you remove the Bottle Aging Stave. It is also recommended to use one stave per 750ml of liquid.
While American White Oak staves work OK as a finishing technique, ultimately you are adding more flavors that are essentially already there to a brown liquor. The real ticket with these staves is self charring them and aging clear, unaged, spirits like moonshine or batched cocktails. You can char any percent of the stave that you want to any char level that you want. You can even soak them in another spirit before you char it for very unique flavors. After charring, rinse and scrub underwater to prevent excessive smokiness in the flavor profile. For extended aging, let the stave air dry for 2 weeks every 3 months.
We've heard of numerous stories from whiskey enthusiasts that enjoy experimenting with their whiskey and have found a few combinations that really fit their personal tastes. Whether its Buffalo Trace finished with the Cherry Aging Staves, or using the staves to age their favorite Manhattan, there's no shortage of experimentation and creativity. At the end of the day, taste and enjoyment of this fine spirit is what matters most, and if we can find small measures to increase our satisfaction, we say "cheers" to that.