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Barrel Char in a Jar (Barrel-Aging Alternative) Review

This post is sponsored by BarrelCharWood.com. All opinions are my own.

Infusing spirits at home is one of the most rewarding ways to get creative in your home bar. With relatively little effort and without fancy equipment, you can personalize your liquors and create an infinite number of new flavor combinations.

While botanical infusions like fresh berries or herbs are the most common, there’s a much more exciting way to customize your favorite spirits: with wood! Infusing liquor with different kinds of specialty wood can add premium, barrel-aged flavors – and in less time than you might think.

four mason jars filled with different liquors and sticks of wood.

I had the opportunity to test out the Barrel Char Jar Complete System from BarrelCharWood.com and the results so far have been impressive.

I decided to create four unique infusions using gin, white rum, blanco tequila, and bourbon whiskey. I’ll walk through each infusion below and the results of six months of infusing.

About the Barrel Char Jar System

Barrel Char Wood Products sells a wide variety of toasted and charred woods for flavoring spirits. Each adds a unique flavor that can be discernible after just a few weeks. By three or six months, much deeper flavors develop, mimicking the aging process of high end barrel-aged spirits.

If you’ve ever wanted to age spirits at home, this is the ultimate kit to help you get that aged flavor – and with very little effort! And unlike aging in a wooden barrel, you can easily make multiple small batches.

the Barrel Char in a Jar Kit guide book next to jars of spirits with wood sticks.

Some of the many flavors of wood offered by Barrel Char Products are:

Pros and cons

What I love about the Barrel Char Jar System is that it is so easy! Whether you’re familiar with creating liquor infusions and do-it-yourself aging, or you’re a total beginner, you’ll still be able to get great results with this kit. The process is very simple:

  1. Select the flavor of wood you want to use.
  2. Prep the wood for infusion by placing it in boiling water briefly.
  3. Add the wood to a mason jar and pour your spirit of choice into the jar.
  4. Seal the jar and wait. That’s it. Check your infusion at regular intervals to see how the flavor is developing. Flavors will begin to be noticeable after a couple of weeks of steeping.
pouring blanco tequila into a mason jar with a piece of amburana wood.

Another pro for the Barrel Char Jar kits is that they are affordable. You can pick up a kit for as little as $45. They also offer a Make Your Own Gin kit that’s under $20!

The Barrel Char Jar Complete Kit is the ultimate gift for the home bartender in your life, and it’s my number one pick this season for the spirits enthusiast who has everything.

So far I’ve only discovered one real con with this method of home spirits infusion: it requires patience. Also, after creating an infusion, there’s always the possibility that you might not enjoy it, which could potentially mean wasted liquor.

However, all infusions take time, so the wait isn’t likely to deter spirits enthusiasts (like myself). It is well worth the results – that can transform an average bottle of liquor into something that tastes much more refined, flavorful, and smooth. There’s also something very special about knowing that you created this delicious, high-end-tasting liquor yourself.

four jars filled with brown tinted liquors and sticks of wood.

The infusions

I selected four types of wood and four types of liquor for my first infusions. Here’s the breakdown:

It’s been about six months since I began my infusions and I think they’re all finished. At three months, I did an initial tasting which really opened my eyes to what’s possible with the Barrel Char in a Jar system.

At three months, all four of the spirits were significantly smoother and less “hot,” with deeper flavors and more prominent sweet notes. Now at six plus months, those flavors have continued to develop and there is very little burn or bite on the tongue compared to when I tasted the spirits fresh from their bottles.

There is no doubt – this wood infusing process absolutely works to enhance, improve, and transform the flavor of any spirit of your choosing.

The infusions

a bottle of Cazadores blanco tequila next to a mason jar filled with tequila and amburana wood.
a mason jar filled with brown liquor and a stick of amburana wood.

My favorite of the four so far is the tequila infused with amburana wood. Amburana wood is a Brazilian wood that’s known for its vanilla and baking spice aroma.

Paired with Cazadores blanco, it created a complex range of flavors and aromas ranging from honey, caramel, and gingerbread to a surprisingly herbaceous mint and vanilla-like finish. 

Read more about this infusion in my Amburana Infused Tequila Honey Smash recipe.

a bottle of Tanqueray Gin next to a mason jar filled with gin and a stick of birch wood.
a mason jar filled with brown liquor and a stick of birch wood.

The Tanqueray gin infused with birch was possibly the most surprising result at my three month tasting. The typically juniper-dominant, zesty spirit was tamed significantly and absolutely smooth enough to enjoy neat. Although I’m a serious gin lover, I do not often enjoy sipping it neat.

This birch-infused gin changed my mind and the way I categorize spirits in my mind as sippable or not. It’s characteristic, bright juniper aroma has been rounded out and replaced with a sweet note of brown sugar or maple syrup. A soft licorice and wintergreen-like note is present along with cinnamon and other baking spices.

Read more about this infusion in my Birch Martini recipe.

a bottle of Brightwater white rum next to a jar filled with white rum and a stick of maple wood.
a mason jar filled with yellow tinged liquor and a stick of maple wood.

The Brightwater Rum infused with sugar maple remains the lightest infusion in terms of color and flavor. There’s a light, floral aroma that’s reminiscent of apples and honey. Mild sweetness and fruit flavors linger on the finish.

It has just enough warm spice and sweet, floral, honey-like flavor to make it a very interesting addition to winter rum cocktails. Sugar maple rum just begs to be added to my next batch of Coquitos!

Read more about this infusion in my Sugar Maple Rum & Apple Cooler recipe.

a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon next to a jar filled with bourbon and a stick of cherry wood.
a jar of dark brown liquor with a stick of cherry wood next to a whiskey cocktail and mixing glass.

I chose Maker’s Mark for my bourbon infusion because I always have a bottle on hand and I have been enjoying it neat for a long time. I love its dessert-like notes of vanilla and caramel and I find it to be an easy-sipping whiskey.

The cherry wood has added hints of allspice and a forest-like, earthy aroma. The taste is full of roasted nuts and berry-like fruit – I immediately thought of cherries and almonds. There’s a new, more pronounced oaky astringency and lingering fruit flavors complement Maker’s strong vanilla profile.

Read more about this infusion in my Spiced Cherry Wood Old Fashioned recipe.

You can learn more about the Barrel Char in a Jar Kits at BarrelCharWood.com or at their Etsy shop.

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Thursday 31st of March 2022

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