Mature your Own Whisky (Part 1)
I was my birthday recently… and a very thoughtful and generous wife decided to buy me a “Mature Your Own” whisky kit. If you are interested in buying one, and are wondering what it’s all about, hopefully this review will help you decide!
What’s in the kit?
First things first... the barrel. This one is a toasted American White Oak barrel, with a ‘medium to heavy’ charring on the inside. The capacity of the barrel is stated as ‘1 litre’, however I found that it held approximately 1.3 litres capacity.
The spirit included in this kit is un-aged New Make Spirit produced in Scotland, in copper pot stills, entirely from Malted Barley. It is bottled at 63.5%. They are very secretive about what distillery the spirit is from, however, I can say it is definitely not peated. That only narrows it down slightly... 😄
Before the first fill
As described in the included guide, there is some important prep work to do before the barrel is filled with the spirit.
Following the guide, I filled the barrel with water to test its water tightness. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I did observe several parts of the barrel leaking quite badly. I decided to leave it for a few days, just to see if the wood would expand (I also watched a few YouTube channels on maturing your own whisky who suggested the same).
But, no matter what I tried, the barrel continued to leak quite excessively. If it was left overnight, almost all the water had escaped from some gaps between the staves and the head. Clearly, it wouldn’t hold the spirit for any length of time (you can see the extent of the water leaking below).
I assumed this was normal, and it maybe just took some time to seal itself. Using some warm water to see if that made any difference, I continued to fill it with water and try to be patient. However, after a week or so of trying, it just wasn’t sealing.
To be fair to Master of Malt, their customer service was amazing! As soon as we contacted them to ask what we should do, they got straight back to us with a resolution. They told us because the barrels are hand crafted, they are sometimes prone to leaking and not being fixable from water swelling alone. Without any quibble, they sent us out a brand new barrel, and told is to keep the ‘defective’ one and do whatever we want with it (it’s now a display barrel in my office, as it happens) 😂
Second time lucky
The second barrel arrived within a few days, and this time when I filled it with water to test it out, there wasn't any leakage at all! It was completely water tight. After soaking in water for 48 hours, it was time to fill with the new make.
The filling was the easy part (using the supplied funnel). The hard part is... waiting. Obviously it takes time for the spirit to take on some of the characteristics of the oak barrel. And there's nothing to help that along except for time.
I placed the barrel on a shelf in my garage, as I read the best place for it was a 'cold' location with reasonable air flow. A cold garage in Scotland seemed like the perfect place. You can see I didn't trust the barrel 100%, and placed it in a tray with a towel under it 'just in case'. but thankfully, it hasn't leaked yet!
Join me for Part 2 (coming very soon) of my review of this Mature Your Own whisky to find out how this turned out for me, and what I plan to use the barrel for on it's second and third fills... 🤓
In the meantime, if you've enjoyed this blog (or not), please let me know! I value all feedback and always seek to improve in any way I can!
If you'd like to start your own adventure of maturing your own whisky, you can pick up the exact same kit as me over on Master of Malt!
Thanks for reading. Sláinte