Forget barrels; age your hooch in small batches with the Oak Bottle
Swill is our bi-monthly column dedicated to liquor, wine, beer, and every other delicious dram that falls under the broader umbrella of booze. But it’s more than just tasting notes scribbled on a cocktail napkin — Swill is about getting outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and exploring the big, wide world of libations. One week you might catch us halfway through a bottle of single-malt scotch, and the week after that we might be buzzing on some Ugandan moonshine made from bananas. This column is just one big boozy adventure, so grab yourself a glass and join us for another round.
Oak barrels are magical. Put something inside of them, and with a bit of patience they spit out something drastically better. The only problem is that aging is traditionally done in 55-gallon oak barrels, so unless you’re a winemaker or distiller with 55 gallons of booze to spare, you typically don’t have the resources you need to age your own spirits. For this reason, barrel aging has been out of reach for the average Joe — until recently, that is.
In the past couple years, a handful of products have been released that allow booze enthusiasts to age liquor in smaller batches. I can think of half a dozen companies that sell miniature charred oak barrels ranging anywhere from 3 gallons to 3 liters, and everything in between. But they’re far from ideal to for the casual drinker. I actually own a 3-liter barrel, and while I do enjoy it, I must admit that I don’t use it as often as I’d like to, simply because it costs too much to fill up. More often than not, I find myself using disposable aging sticks, which displace liquor and lost their potency over time.
The Oak Bottle offers a solution to this conundrum. It’s right in that goldilocks zone — not so big that you’ve got to buy three fifths just to fill it, and not so dinky that it only works on a couple batches of booze. It’s basically a bottle-sized (and shaped) oak barrel that allows you to age your hooch one fifth (750ml) or one pint (355ml) at a time.
It’s not available for purchase quite yet, but the bottle’s creators have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the cost of production, so if you pledge your support now during the early stages, you can lock down an Oak Bottle for a pledge of just $90 bucks. The campaign is already closing in on its modest $30,000 goal, and if everything goes as planned the creators expect to begin shipping sometime in December.