It’s pretty common to see wine producers age their drinks for long time before selling them. However, when it comes to aging liquor, things get a bit trickier. As it turns out, there’s a few ways to tell when a liquor should be aged, and when you should drink it…
Aging Liquor: When To Do It
What to age
Before you start aging liquor, it’s important to know what liquor you should age. This all depends on the base of the liquor, and the distilling method. Usually, the bases for clear liquor (think potatoes, corn, etc.) tend to not really make for a good aging experience. Meanwhile, bases found in dark liquor tend to be better suited for aging.
The distilling method is really the most important element. Column distillation results in drinks with a high alcohol content, but a low amount of congeners, which are the key element for aging flavor changes. Pot distillation, meanwhile, keeps more congeners and make the drinks better for aging. There are certainly some exceptions; Bourbon uses column distillation, but ages very well.
Where to age it
Where you age the drink is another crucial element for aging liquor. Often times, distillers like to use wooden casks or barrels. Oak is the common choice, but they can also use different woods depending on the liquor. Sometimes, they’ll even use previously used barrels, or swap barrels in-between the aging to create more interesting and unique flavors.
Climate is also an important factor to consider. The overall temperature and humidity of a location can have some pretty drastic influences on the liquor. Bourbon distillers, for instance, will age their liquor in dry climates, while Scotch distillers will age theirs in humid climates. It all comes down to the drink itself, and the flavors you want from it.
Aging liquor can certainly be a time consuming process. In fact, distillers of certain liquors have to age them for a certain amount of time before bottling and selling them. Cognac has to age at least 2 years, but many brands go up to 8 years. Scotch has a minimum aging limit of 3 years, but some brands will age theirs for nearly 10 years. Again, it’s all about what kind of flavors the distillers want to get.