Best Age Your Own Whisky
Does anyone have any recommendations for a home aged whisky? I would have to be able to get it (local or shipped) in VA or DC. I like Breckenridge's kit but i think it is too expensive and they don't ship. Please help!
None of the home aged products are very good. The huge surface area of the small barrels means that the spirit gets a lot of flavor quickly, but no actual aging and mellowing from oxidation and the breakdown of long chain chemicals into smaller ones. Until the barrel size hits at least ten gallons, preferably fifteen, the aging really doesn't have enough time to take place because the charred barrel character/flavor gets overwhelming. The only time these types of products are ok, not good just ok, is when they are distilled extremely conservatively with huge heads and tails cuts so that the fresh spirit is very smooth from the start. Then you still don't get aging, just charred wood flavoring.
If you were to do this I would source out the best "white" whiskey you can find. Something like Tuthilltown's NY Corn Whiskey, or something from Koval in Chicago. One that you like as is.
Then buy a small barrel from one of the three coopers in the US making small barrels. Black Swan Barrels in MN is the one I like best but their smallest barrel is 5 gl., The Barrel Mill in MN has 5 gl. as their smallest, and Gibbs Brothers Cooperage in Arkansas has 1,2,3,5 gl. and up; both are good, but have slight differences. I'm sure you would end up buying from Gibbs. I've used dozens of their barrels. There are other places selling tiny barrels, but they are just not very good.
Once you fill the barrel, you need to taste it just about every week. With any barrel under five gallons it will pick up flavor extremely fast. A five gallon barrel will be ready in four months and the difference of a week can be the ruin of the spirit from over wooding. A one gallon barrel can be ready in a month or so.