GSN Review: Barrel Char in a Jar Kit

For those DIY spirits enthusiasts out there, there is an appeal to making your own flavor profiles. But, buying barrels, even small ones is expensive and they don’t last forever.  Barrel Char in a Jar allows you to experiment with five different woods with a small and easily stored kit that contains everything you need right out of the box (minus the spirit itself).

US laws prohibit home production of strong alcoholic spirits (beer and wine are not considered strong) as this would involve distilling; which is illegal without a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). Many of the so-called “make your own” kits actually just contain a bottle of artificial flavoring which the user must add to some kind of store bought vodka or grain neutral spirit. Real aging gets its flavor, color and aroma from the wood and char of the barrel.

With this kit, you are getting all the high-end types of wood used in the most expensive spirits. The user of this kit will be able to take a spirit of their choice, (like unaged whiskey, white rum or blanco tequila) and age it in a way that is similar to the way large-scale manufacturers do. You will get the dark color and complex flavors that real barrel aging will produce.

The basic Barrel Char kit consists of a quart size jar with two sample bottles for comparing your original spirit and finished product as well as several kinds of wood for aging. These include:

  • American White Oak (barrel char)
  • Cherry (light toast)
  • French Oak (medium plus toast)
  • Sugar Maple (medium toast)
  • Yellow Birch (medium toast)

Yellow Birch provides some burnt caramel and vanilla bean notes to spirits, while Sugar Maple adds a maple candy note to things without adding too much sweetness. Unlike some commercial products which just add maple syrup to their spirits (which you can do as well if desired), this wood adds some maple flavor without too much sweetness. With the exception of the Oak , all of the wood is harvested using hand tools in the USA and toasted in a commercial kitchen.

In addition to the 5 types of wood, with the kit you get filter papers, an instruction booklet, and activated charcoal. The activated charcoal is pre-washed so there will be a minimum of black dust. There are enough consumables in the kit to flavor approximately 2-3 conventional (750ml) bottles of liquor per wood if you don’t count the barrel char oak. If you use every flavor, you should get 8-12 bottles of flavored liquor before the consumables run out.

Overall, a fun way to try experimenting and make something new for you home bar.

GSN Rating: A

To order go to: Gnarly Apple on Etsy

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