1. Put the entire barrel in a bucket of water.
This is the most common error many times, because of the urgency of wanting to use the barrel and because they have not sealed the leaks that are presents when curing and hydrating the barrel. Some people put it in a bucket, tub, pool, etc. completely, with the intention of sealing it. The truth is that if it is going to seal and it will be faster only but it will affect the appearance of the barrel after this it will look as if it was in a cellar for several months, we recommend you to be patient in the curing process since it is natural that the barrel presents some leaks because it is a handmade product and does not carry any type of glue that hold the staves with each other, the only thing that keeps them together is the pressure of the rings around the wood.
2. Screw the rings when they are for rest use.
Many times they tell us that the barrel is leaking and that it does not seal, it has been with water for more than a week and every day it must be filled because it runs out of water, they send us an image of the leak and the surprise, it has a hole in the wood resulting from a screw or nail that was put to hold the rings to the wood. The recommendation here is that before using the barrel you make sure that it does not have any pins or nails that pass through the wood and avoid possible leaks. The French barrels have nails that hold the rings to the wood, however, these nails are less than half the thickness of the stave, which ensures that the nail does not reach the opposite side.
3. Do not screw the rings and glue the staves when they are for decoration.
Whenever they ask us for a certain type of barrel, we ask if they will use them for aging or decoration and the answer is often what is the difference? The barrels that will be used for decoration must be totally dehydrated, have the wood glued between the staves and the rings must have a nail, tack, or screw minimum two per ring. This is also to avoid that over the months the barrel will turn into a puzzle, we mean that if you do not take this treatment sooner or later it will fall apart.
4. Leave the barrel empty for several days.
The number one recommendation is that once you have had your barrel aging a drink it should never be empty again if you want to keep it in good condition. As we mentioned before, the barrels for aging purposes, have no glue that joins the staves, or nails that join the rings to the wood, the only pressure that exists is that of the ring against the wood, when the barrel is hydrated, this pressure increases and makes the wood swell even more, after this if it is left empty for a few days, this time will depend a lot on the environment where the barrel is, you begin to see some cracks between the staves after the rings fall, the key is removed, the spigots and barrel heads start to fall off and the barrel ends up breaking, therefore try to have your barrel always with your favorite drink. If you leave it a few days empty (three or four) nothing will happen, as long as you don't leave it in the direct sun or in a very hot place.
5. Fill it after having been a long period completely empty.
If you leave your barrel several days empty, but it looks in the same conditions, the rings are in place, it has no cracks between the staves and the valve is tight. But nevertheless, there is a great possibility that it might leak a little, since the wood could have become dehydrated. It is advisable before filling it again to put some water and check that there are no leaks.
6. Believe that the barrel will make premium a low quality liquor.
The barrel what you will do with the drink is to increase its organoleptic characteristics, however do not expect a miracle from it, sometimes they are filled with very poor quality drinks and it is expected to obtain a premium drink within a few months of being there, even if several years pass it will change the raw materials or processes. It will certainly improve its characteristics, but don't expect a change in terms of the components.
7. Leave the key incorrectly closed.
A few years ago a client told us this anecdote, he had his 20-liter barrel full of tequila in the studio, one day he had a visitor over and the tequila he had in the stored was consumed, he then sent his grandson directly for the barrel, to which he had already shown how to pour directly from the barrel, the grandson returns with the tequila, all good until , after a few hours a guest realizes that the whole house smelled like tequila, they go to where the 20-liter barrel is and to their surprise there were almost 20 liters of tequila on the floor. Always make sure you have left the barrel with the valve closed and the cap on to prevent this from happening.
8. Want to remove the liquor with the bung cap on.
We have had the opportunity to attend several events where they place a wooden barrel as a centerpiece or there is a larger barrel in the bar and everyone is being served. The problem here is that not all guests are familiar with how to remove the liquid from the barrel and it is logical to open the outlet valve, but after a few seconds it does not come out anymore, because if the barrel still has several liters? What happens here is that having the cap on, it has the effect of vacuum preventing the liquid from flowing, that's why when serving or filling your liquor store, make sure that the cap is not on.
9. Believe it is to save water and will be fresh and delicious every day.
Another not so common but that we have also been told, it turns out that the barrel was purchased to be used as a water dispenser, that is a misconception, wood is a tissue that allows the entry of oxygen that acts in the fermentation, and or aging of your drink, but drinking water does not need this process so after a few days when you want to drink some refreshing water you will be surprised with an unpleasant taste. Conventional barrels are not designed to store water, modifications can be made to do so, but must be specified.
10. Leave it with water for several days.
When the barrel is not in use, the most common thing is to have it full of water, you should be very careful since, after spending several days with the water, fungi will begin to form inside, contaminating the wood and many times it can no longer be used for, fermentation or aging, try to avoid any type contamination of the liquor.
And you, did any happen?
By Barriles la Arboleda.