Barrel Fermentation Vs. Barrel Aging: What’s the Difference?

Wood wine barrels stored in a winery on the fermentation process

You may have heard the terms ‘barrel aging’ used interchangeably with ‘barrel fermentation,’ but it may surprise you to find that they are incredibly different processes. They both involve the same materials and methods, but their impact on wines and spirits can be astronomically different. Like most things involving alcohol, one small change can ripple out, causing a shift in the flavor profile of your brew.

Aging Vs. Fermentation

We’re going to explore the difference today and explain it in a way that enriches your understanding of both processes.

The Magic of Fermentation

In case you’re not a sommelier or whiskey lover, you might want a refresher on the importance that fermentation plays in making alcohol. During fermentation, yeast is added to the wort to begin fermenting. As time goes on, the yeast eats and breaks down the sugar to produce alcohol and CO2.

The only thing you need to know at this point is that you choose where this fermentation process happens. Some distilleries opt to place the liquid in wooden barrels for the sake of fermentation, but some operations decide to proceed with the process by setting the liquid into steel tanks. This slight difference can make a world of difference in the flavor of the final product.

The Benefits of Barrel Fermentation

Now that we’ve established the difference between these two products, we’d like to discuss some of the nuances of barrel fermentation. Placing the liquid into barrels for fermentation can impart much more flavor and complexity than a steel tank. Most notably, barrel fermentation results in a wine or spirit that boasts notes of toasted vanilla, muted fruit flavors, and a creamy round texture.

When to Choose Barrel Aging

The benefits of barrel aging are even more numerous than fermentation. Barrel aging results in a more profound and complex product, with tasting notes of vanilla, tobacco, and even caramel. When a distillery chooses to age in barrels like ours, they produce a softer and richer drink than what they could achieve otherwise.

Barrels That Enrich

To enjoy the best wine and spirits, you must give them the perfect conditions before, during, and after the brewing process. At the Barrel Mill, we’ve dedicated over a century to our understanding of lumber and craftsmanship. That’s why we stand as one of the most respected cooperages in our industry.

If you’re interested in selecting the finest barrels for your brightest product, contact us today to see how we can enrich your product with unmistakable quality.

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