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Port Barrel

Discussion in 'Geek Grog & Homebrew' started by Ma Baker, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    I've been following some comments made in this forum and want to get some opinions from people who have Port Barrels. I've decided that my hubby would really like one of these for on top of the bar, especially since he does enjoy a drop of Port. I'm thinking of buying a 1.5 litre keg which would be a nice size to sit on the bar, so my questions are:

    • If you have one, what have you put in your barrel? What Port have you used and also what else have mixed it with?

    • How long does it need to get to a nice tasting drink? Our Anniversary is two months away, is two months long enough to obtain a nice drop?

    • What size barrel do you have?

    • What ratio's do you use for the mix?

    • Will the mix last or will it go off? He only has a Port now and again, although I'm sure if it's really nice this will increase.

    Bear in mind that my hubby likes expensive. He has lots of different Whiskies and enjoys a nice drop of red wine and yes I spoil him but he's worth it.
     
  2. PostModern

    PostModern Angry Brewer

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    It'll take a week or two just to seal up when you fill it with water. They come dry, so you need to fill them and let them swell up to seal. I doubt you'll have top notch stuff in two months. However, if you fill it with good port initially, and keep it topped up with average or better as you empty it, it might be OK. I don't have one myself, but often sip from my brother's barrel. The flavour was quite oaky at first. After a six months and a few refills, it settled down.

    Not sure of the ratios, but he has a 4 litre one, I think. Used about half a bottle of brandy, which he sloshed around for a couple days, then added a couple bottles of Vintage port, one bottle of Galway Pipe and the rest plain old Penfold Club.

    It'll last indefinitely, but you need to keep it topped up to stop it drying out. Over time, you'll lose some alcohol to evaporation thru the wood, hence the added brandy now and again.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    I've just been having a read and one place said not to use vintage port as it won't change flavour use Tawny Port. I have no idea if this is correct or not, that's why I'd prefer the advice from you guys who seem to know more about it.

    I've just looked in my hubby's bar while he's out and found he has 2 new bottles of Brown Brothers Reserve Port and a half bottle of Queen Adelaide Tawny Port.

    He's got a bottle of George Wyndham Tawny 5 year old Oak aged too but I won't touch that as he'll notice it and I'd like to do it as a surprise. He won't notice if I use a bottle of the Brown Brothers as it's just what he's been bought over the last 2 Christmas's from a friend.

    I've just bought a barrel off eBay and they've listed it as around 2 litres so I'm thinking it will probably be 1.5 litres. They've just contacted me to say that something urgent has come up so they can't send it until after 16th as they have to go to Canada. :( Aw well, it looks like it wouldn't be ready anyway but I can start it and at least it will be on it's way.

    I'm thinking if it's a 1.5 litre, I'll check when it arrives, and dependent on other members suggestions, I'll put a full bottle of Brown Brothers Reserve Port, 250ml of Brandy and 250ml of Queen Adelaide Tawny Port. If it's a 2 litre I'll up the Queen Adelaide Tawny Port to 500ml.

    Is Brandy the go for Port or would Whisky be a good idea? He loves his whisky but I'm happy to buy some Brandy.

    What sort of Brandy/Whisky would be good to use? Cheap, a bit better or much better?

    I'll also keep a note of the recipe so that if he likes it we can replicate it.

    As it's a used barrel what would be the best to sterilise it with before putting it in soak to make sure it doesn't leak?

    Sorry for all the questions but you brought it on yourselves, it's reading this forum that gave me this brilliant idea for a present, so thank you all. :thumbup:
     
  4. Drewcarey

    Drewcarey Member

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    I've never tried it with whiskey. I have tried port aged in whiskey barrels though which was fantastic so could be worth a shot.

    My dads current port barrel's actually got some cognac in it instead of the brandy as I had a couple of bottles of it at the time. Works nicely but a waste of cognac really :lol:
     
  5. VippiN

    VippiN Member

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    Fantastic thread. I've wanted my own barrel for a long time. Ma, are you able to link to the ebay site on the barrel you bought? Perhaps when you receive it post up some sort of comment on it's quality. :)
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    I've actually bought a second hand one so I'm hoping it will be OK. The one I bought is here. Unfortunately because he's had to go overseas in a hurry he won't be able to post until he returns so I won't receive it until towards the end of July. I must admit I'm really looking forward to getting it ready, hopefully hubby isn't around when it arrives and I can get it set up and hidden away without him knowing. Fingers crossed it won't leak.
     
  7. Bionic

    Bionic Member

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    Ive got 2 port Barrells sitting next my Monitors on my PC desk! :thumbup:
    Each time I or a friend or Relo goes up to the hunter valley I get them to buy either Port or Brown Muscat in 10.5 litre Plastic containers direct from the winery. It Ends up Shite loads cheaper. I have a 2 and 4 or5 litre. Cant remember the exact size of it. I put Brandy in mine but not 1/2 a bottle :Paranoid: usually just a few shots of it.


    Ohh yeah if it ahsn't been used for a few years it will leak like a sive. Thats cool though.my 2 litre one hadn't been used for around 10 years. as quickly as I could put water in it was comming out! :shock: So I filled it up and quickly chucked the lid on so it would create a little bit of a vacume and slow the water leaking out down. Woke up the next morning not a drop was comming out. Left water in it for 2 weeks just incase. its been fine. Other than it tastes really really really really oaky (woody) im slowly going through it and topping it up with fresh port.

    Oh yeah. dont buy good port to put in the barrells buy the cheap shit. thats what everyone has told me and a few websites that I found when I was looking into these. The good thing about the barrells it turns crap port into quite good port over time! :thumbup: Also with the Brandy I just bought middle of the road stuff. Not cheap and not super expensive
     
  8. VippiN

    VippiN Member

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    That looks identical to my fathers barrel, and he paid $300~ for his! Good buy, i'm going to keep my eyes peeled at that price!
     
  9. Dougal

    Dougal Member

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    Hi guys couple of things (Sorry about the long post)

    Don't use Brandy etc. this is an old misconception, basically brandy was used to mask the poor quality port etc and the practice has slipped into common use. Just use port in a port barrel :)

    Use good quality port, shit in shit out still applies and whilst the port will get 'better' in a barrel you may as well start good. No need to get 100yo stuff or anything but if it tastes like poo it aint gunna get that much better.

    If you can, go to a wine growing region and get bulk port, some even have specific mixes that will barrel well, but the most important thing is the taste. Bulk port is relatively cheap as you don't have to pay for labels bottling etc and you can reuse the flagons next time your there. For example about 6 months ago when I was in Rutherglenn @ Stanton and Killeen. They had some nice stuff for around $15-$20 / liter. If your at a cellar door ask if they have any bulk port as they don't always advertise.

    If your barrel has been dry try filling it with water etc, if it's too far gone you may have to take it to a cooper. Now the next part is just my personal view and is not backed up by anything other than a feeling (ie I haven't tested 100's of barrels thus this isn't a researched 'fact') but if your going to spend the money, go see a cooper and have a chat to them instead of buying from the bottle-o, I know you got one off e-bay and there is probably nothing wrong with that but I know from when I got mine (Well actually the wife got it for me) but chatting with the cooper and seeing other ones he built being out together was quite a lot of fun. Needless to say the quality of the wood/oak will play a part in taste of your final product.

    As a bit of history on my Barrel, just 'cos - I have a 13 liter port barrel that I got made by a cooper in Rutherglen, it was made from old Stanton and Killeen Sherry Barrel (He reshapes and burns and conditions the big barrels into the more manageable size etc) It gave the first couple of batches a distinct flavor but over the years that has been blended out. I keep it topped up with whatever I have around but I will often get bulk port to top up. i don't actually drink THAT much of it but I like having a good drop on tap (pun sort of intended :) )
     
    fredhoon likes this.
  10. kukulkan

    kukulkan Member

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    Something else to consider when getting the barrel ready - if small enough you could potentially soak the outside too. I know some brewers do this as it helps the wood to swell evenly. Would depend on the particular barrel though - if its ornamental and has metal that could potentially rust you may not want to do this.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    Thanks Dougal, this is the sort of thing I'm after, personal experience. I'm doing this for a surprise present and if it works out I'm sure that we will get a bigger one in the future and put joint effort in to getting it up and running. I don't think my hubby has even thought of doing something like this so it's going to be a learning experience for us both. I do know he'll enjoy it though and I'm sure he'll drink more port than he currently does if it's successful.

    I believe the outside is brass so would have to check if I could soak brass. I will make sure and fill it and keep it filled for at least a week to make sure it isn't leaking.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    Well this backfired on me. The barrel I bought from eBay turned up and hubby just had to be off sick that day. If I could have hidden it I would but he happened to answer the door and in the end I gave in and let him have it. Inside was in a bit of a poor condition so we set about cleaning it up. I then decided that we should forget it and we'd use that one as decoration and we'd buy him a new one.

    After lots of searching and reading we found that a shop local had one in so on Saturday we drove over to have a look. The place sold bulk Port too but unfortunately not containers. A trip to the supermarket and we bought a 10 litre container of water and after the initial shock from the guy behind the counter we got him to realise that we were serious and that we wanted him to have the water so that we had a clean container to use. Anyway I bought a 5 litre Port Barrel $210, 8 litres of bulk Port $80 and somehow we managed to buy 8 different bottles of beer too. :lol: Must admit I've never seen Little Creatures Pilsner or Little Creatures Bright in any of the shops we've been in and we also bought the new James Squire Pepperberry.

    We've started preparing the barrel and it's looking good, no leaks at all. Following the instructions from the leaflet with the barrel we've also been preparing the original one that we bought and it's looking like we can use that too, although we won't put Port in it I said to hubby he might as well have something else in there and I suggested a Muscat so that's what we're going to do.
     
    alch likes this.
  13. pugsley

    pugsley Member

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    Glad to see it worked out in the end. Thats one of the dangers of buying on ebay though. You cant be 100% on the quality until its in your hands. But good to hear its still usable.
     
  14. Edstructicon

    Edstructicon Member

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    You might want to start investigating some scotch to put in that barrel after you've finished?

    Would be interesting to put some sub-par scotch in there for a few years and see how much it mellows/improves.
     
  15. kukulkan

    kukulkan Member

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    Personally I think that could be an expensive exercise in wasting scotch, though I'll admit I don't have a great amount of knowledge in this area.

    What flavours would you expect to achieve? My understanding behind the whole idea of small-barrel aging with fortified wines is to provide oxidisation over time and extract some of the flavours from the new wood. Totally different to my understanding of the the goal with scotch (extracting the flavours from the bourbon or sherry barrel, without getting too much of that overpowering new wood flavour).

    How would extended aging in a small barrel result in a more "mellow" spirit?
     
  16. PostModern

    PostModern Angry Brewer

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    If the inside of the barrel is charred, you might get some carbon filtering of volatiles happening. Any perceived "mellowing" might just be evaporation of the alcohol tho. Better to get spirit that was fermented and distilled right in the first place.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    I certainly don't think hubby would mess with his Whiskey's.

    We've been advised to make sure he drinks at least half of the barrel within 6 months and top it up again as otherwise it would get too much taste from the new barrel and Hubby is happy to do this, I wonder why. :lol: Once it's been topped up again they said there is no problem with leaving it in as long as we want.
     
  18. Edstructicon

    Edstructicon Member

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    Mainly the time sitting will mellow it, but what I was getting at was putting the scotch in after the port is finished to get that flavour too.
     
  19. OP
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    Ma Baker

    Ma Baker Retired

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    Well the port is now in the 5 litre barrel and we have Muscat in the small barrel. Hubby is finding it difficult not to get stuck in to the port.
     
  20. PostModern

    PostModern Angry Brewer

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    Used port and sherry barrels are often used to age whisky and rum. However, that's at cask strength (65% or so). This allows for some evaporation and dilution at bottling time. I don't think "re-aging" spirits would bring much more benefit, especially after it's bonded/diluted.
     

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