Whiskey has long been known for its distinctive flavor and rich history. Traditionally, whiskey is aged in oak barrels to give it is famed characteristic taste and color. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in non-traditional aging techniques that offer a unique twist on this classic spirit.

One such technique is using smaller barrels. While traditional whiskey barrels are typically 53 gallons, smaller barrels of 5 to 20 gallons have become increasingly popular. The smaller size of the barrel allows for a greater surface area of the whiskey to encounter the wood, resulting in a more intense and faster aging process. This technique can also lead to a greater concentration of flavor, resulting in a whiskey that is both complex and robust.

Another non-traditional aging technique is the use of different types of wood. While oak is the traditional wood used for aging whiskey, other woods such as cherry, maple, and hickory have also been used. These woods can impart unique flavors and aromas to the whiskey, resulting in a completely new and unexpected taste profile. For example, a whiskey aged in a cherry wood barrel may have notes of fruit and sweetness, while one aged in hickory may have a smokier and savory flavor.

Aging whiskey in unconventional vessels is also gaining popularity. Some distillers are experimenting with aging whiskey in wine barrels, beer barrels, or even used barrels from other spirits such as rum or tequila. This technique can add layers of complexity to the whiskey, as it takes on the flavor and aroma of the previous liquid that was stored in the barrel. For example, a whiskey aged in a used tequila barrel may have notes of citrus and agave.

Other distillers are experimenting with non-traditional aging environments. Some are aging whiskey in warmer environments or in places with more humidity. These factors can impact the aging process by speeding it up or slowing it down, resulting in unique flavors and aromas. Some distillers are even aging whiskey underwater, where the pressure and temperature can have a different effect on the aging process.

While these non-traditional aging techniques may be new to whiskey making, they are not without controversy. Some traditionalists argue that whiskey aged in anything other than an oak barrel is not true whiskey. Others argue that these techniques are just a fad and will fade away as quickly as they emerged.

However, proponents of non-traditional aging techniques argue that these methods are simply another way to create unique and complex flavors in whiskey. They also point out that these techniques have been used in other spirit categories such as rum and tequila for years.

Ultimately, the emergence of non-traditional aging techniques in whiskey making represents a growing interest in experimentation and innovation. While there will always be a place for traditional whiskey making techniques, these new methods offer an exciting opportunity for distillers to push the boundaries and create something truly unique. As whiskey enthusiasts continue to explore new flavors and techniques, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see more non-traditional aging methods emerge in the world of whiskey making.

Are you a distillery or brand owner searching for aged bourbon or rye? Call Ultra Pure’s Beverage Sales Team today at 203-662-9761!