Learn the near-lost art of coopering by making an oak barrel to age your own spirits
What You’ll Be Making : A handmade oak barrel, suitable for aging your own spirits. The barrel will hold approximately 2 liters of liquid.
What You’ll Be Doing: You’ll assemble, shape, char, and personalize your barrel before filling it with the spirit of your choice for aging.
Skill Level : Beginner — no previous experience is required.
Length: 4 hours
Class size: 6 – 8 people
$395 per person: You will make one barrel.
Buddy Up! – $430: You and a guest will make one barrel together.
Date Night couple – $480: You and your guest will make one barrel together and get a pizza and a bottle of wine to share during the workshop.
This workshop introduces you to the art and science of barrel making, also known as coopering. Barrels have long been used to age spirits as they are the source of the various and often subtle flavors that make each spirit unique and drinkable. Without the mighty barrel and the flavors and smoothness it imparts, we’d all be resigned to drinking moonshine (which is effectively rubbing alcohol, or at least that’s what it tastes like).
Our guides will walk you through the entire coopering process. You’ll start by assembling the staves and hoops that form your barrel’s perimeter. You’ll then use a router table to cut your barrel’s crozes, which are the grooves that secure the barrel heads. You’ll then “play with fire”, using a propane torch to char the insides of your barrel. The resulting charred wood is responsible for much of the flavor and color a barrel imparts on spirits and you can char your barrel as much or as little as you’d like. You’ll then do the final assembly of your barrel by installing the barrel heads and tap, along with some strategically placed beeswax to ensure none of your barrel’s sacred contents leak out during aging. Along the way, you’ll be able to personalize your barrel with a wood burning tool!
While much of this workshop is focused on the skills and techniques of coopering, you’ll also learn about the constantly evolving art of aging spirits in barrels. Our guides and distilling experts will share the ways distillers are using barrels to create unique spirits, beers, and wines. The possibilities are truly endless as one can vary any aspect of the aging process – the spirit put into the barrel, the wood used to make the barrel, the condition/history of the barrel , and the length of time and conditions of the aging. Today you can find beer aged in old bourbon barrels, whiskey aged in old wine barrels, and tequila aged in old whiskey barrels, among many, many other combinations. And as you may have noticed, many bars and restaurants are now offering barrel-aged cocktails. Maybe you and your barrel will come up with the Next Big Thing at your favorite watering hole!
All this information will come in handy as our neighbors and friends at Gowanus Wine Merchants will provide you with a discount to purchase whatever you want to age in your barrel. After filling your barrel, it’s then time to “hurry up and wait” while your liquor ages, for as long as you want and can hold out. Once the aging is complete, get ready to amaze and impress your friends with truly one-of-a-kind cocktails your barrel making prowess made possible!