Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And now for something completely different…….!

Ever want to distill your own whisky or whiskey at home? I think a lot of us have thought about it and many of us have a family heritage of uncles, grandfathers, etc. that actually did produce some fine shine back in the hills of various states in the South mostly. For now home distilling remains illegal in the United States and even in Canada but there are actually web sites (that we are not affiliated with in any way) that will sell you all the stuff you need to distill at home. Not being fond of striped clothing and metal bars I for one will pass on the illegal stuff however there is a perfectly legal alternative that I would like to suggest to you now.
There are a few sites you can Google that sell small oak casks and you can purchase them already charred or even toasted or plain. They seem to come in most any size you could want from 1 liter up to 16 liter and one site has them in gallons from one gallon up to 5 as best as I can remember. They are not cheap and will run you from around $100 to $300 depending on the size and there will be some shipping charges as you might imagine. We are dedicated whisky (ey) drinkers though are we not??? So a few hundred bucks could be worth it for this project and you can budget it over time and not have to buy everything in one day.
Alright so you first secure a nice little oaken cask and remember to please follow the directions that come with it to the letter. You must use the charred one for whisky the toasted is for wine and toasted or plain will not give you the aging results you seek! There is a process you must do involving filling it with hot water for several days to get the wood to seal properly. Once it is sealed then you can continue the project but don’t wait too long between the sealing and the introduction of spirits as you don’t want the cask to dry out.
Now for part 2! Go to your favorite liquor store and see what kinds of whisky (ey)’s they have that are “Cask Strength!” Which means they were removed straight from the large cask at the distillery without having any water added and the ones I have seen run about 118 proof or so. Procure enough bottles to fill your home cask and take them home and open the cask and pour the luscious liquid into the cask and reseal. Watch it carefully for leaks the first couple of days and be sure to secure the tap or spigot so that it is wired or secured in the closed position as you don’t want to come home from work and find your treasure covering the kitchen floor and your dogs and cats badly in need of a trip the pet version of the Betty Ford center.
So why do this? Well as I’m pretty sure you know, whisky (ey) stops aging once it is removed from the cask at the distillery. Yes you may have had that bottle of 12 year old scotch in your closet for 20 years but no unfortunately that does not make it a 32 year old scotch only the time maturing in the cask adds to the age and flavor of a whisky (ey) it just doesn’t work like some wines that get better in the bottle. You now have a way around this challenge. Note the age of the cask strength whisky (ey) when you empty the bottles into your home cask and then BING like magic the wonderful aging process begins again. Every day you keep your treasure in your home oaken charred cask is one more day it ages!!! Aint that great!!! So let’s say you find a 10 year old cask strength and put it in your home cask. Every year it just gets better and better and you can still be drinking it along the way. For a while you are drinking 10 year old then before you know it its 11, 12, 13, and right on up to as long as you can stand to have it in your home without consuming it. That is why I suggest at least a 2 gallon cask so you can drink up a gallon over the years and leave a gallon for that 20, 25, or even 30 year old goal.
One choice for this could be Macallan’s cask strength which last time I bought a bottle ran me about $47. There are many others to choose from so have fun doing this and it’s a great conversation piece for when you are entertaining friends or having the poker buds over for an evening of cards. Just don’t be too generous and end up with a nice empty cask after just a few months….that would not be so much fun…well maybe…!

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