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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Barrel Contamination

Has anyone here ever fell victim to barrel contamination? I'm curious how to tell if the barrels are bad or not. Sure, it should be obvious, but I'm not so sure. I've got a mossy/mushroom aroma that seems to be some sort of contamination. What would cause this? Is there a way to test for it other than taste and smell?


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Has anyone here ever fell victim to barrel contamination? I'm curious how to tell if the barrels are bad or not. Sure, it should be obvious, but I'm not so sure. I've got a mossy/mushroom aroma that seems to be some sort of contamination. What would cause this? Is there a way to test for it other than taste and smell?


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Hi Phil,

I agree with Rusty--if you suspect something is wrong, don't use it. Weigh the risk versus the possibility of losing that batch. Is it worth it?...

Soda ash followed by citric acid, potassium metabisulphite, and hot water should clear everything out but there is always the chance that bacteria could come from between the staves. I assume you're talking about used barrels and so you should be able to afford other ones.

Barring this, put some water in the barrel for a week or so, and then submit 750ml to a lab to test for bacteria, brett, and other items. It's the only way you would know for sure what is in there.

If you're looking for new barrels and/or oak products, please contact me.

Thanks,

Robert


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My barrels are all new charred oak barrels, and seemed to be fine for the first 4-5 months, but now the flavor is turning a bit mossy. Is it possible to contaminate the distillate after its barreled?


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Musty/mushroom armoa....sounds like a case of brettanomyces, I have heard of people eliminating it by steam cleaning the barrel, then burning a stick of sulfur in it.....but I would not want to take the chance if you calculate the value of the product you put in there the risk is to high. Some people make nice furniture from those barrels. The only thing I could do is make a flower box.


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Musty/mushroom armoa....sounds like a case of brettanomyces, I have heard of people eliminating it by steam cleaning the barrel, then burning a stick of sulfur in it.....but I would not want to take the chance if you calculate the value of the product you put in there the risk is to high. Some people make nice furniture from those barrels. The only thing I could do is make a flower box.


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White Labs does yeast analysis, maybe they can do something to determine the source of the aroma.

I gather from you statements that you have used the barrels and you're getting the musty aroma, or is it that they've been stored for 4-5 months and now you have this aroma?


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White Labs does yeast analysis, maybe they can do something to determine the source of the aroma.

I gather from you statements that you have used the barrels and you're getting the musty aroma, or is it that they've been stored for 4-5 months and now you have this aroma?


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The barrels are full of 125 proof and your getting this smell?

What could possibly live in alcohol that high? Some sort of bacteria, maybe?

Are you sure the distillate was good going into the barrel?


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Is there a way to test for brettanomyces?


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Yes, but if that mushroom aroma is quite unpleasent I would not waste my time or money on a test.

steam clean the barrels and rinse baking soda and the rinse with a solution of water and cittic acid. That should get it out.


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OK, what does the whiskey taste like?


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Some molds can live in 40% alcohol, but over that strength there really isn't much that can survive.

Can anything at all, fungus or a mold like spoor even live in 40 percent alcohol? let a lone 125 percent. I have heard of some wines and ciders getting some growth but never spirits. Just asking. Coop


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Have you tasted the liquid in the barrel or just sniffed it. Maybe it is just water in there!!

PeteB


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I have minimal experience aging in wood ... but I remember hearing that if the proof was too high that the barrel would begin to errode and turn to mush. Maybe that's your issue?

Any of you whiskey or Brandy guys want to comment on that?

S.


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125 proof is the current legal maximum barrel entry proof for whiskey (US). A common figure. Sometimes proof even goes up, and you have these barrel proof expressions that are sold above 125 proof. So that's probably not the problem, if there's a problem at all.