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Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Fraser » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:12 am

I've seen a few people here mention they've used an airstone to aerate their whiskey after they've oaked it with staves. The idea as I understand it is to try to match some of the complex interactions between oxygen and spirits that occur over a long period of time in the barrel.

I'm thinking about giving this a try since I don't have a lot of room for barrels at the moment, and was curious about others experiences. How many days has anyone let it aerate to get to the desired result? What micron airstone works well? I was thinking of a 2 micron, but not sure that's small enough.

Any input is welcome. Thanks.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby the Doctor » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:51 am

Fraser air-stoning is a legitimate way to accelerate ageing...we use sub micron stainless steel air-stones (I think I got them from craftbrewer brisbane) ...if you cannot house barrels the best substitute oak product are the Suber La Fort oak dominos. I have used these for years when doing small batch experiments. In terms of the micron size all will work but the smaller the gentler and the less spritz at the surface therefore less evaporation... just a consideration.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:35 pm

I've used a stainless airstone for years (I forget the pore size) with O2, and while it's hard to measure, I've no doubt that it speeds up aging, specifically by allowing already-extracted wood compounds to oxidize relatively rapidly.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Rockchucker » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:24 pm

I’ve never used air stones for aging but see no reason it wouldn’t work.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby The Baker » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:08 am

Zymurgy Bob (hi) said, 'I've used a stainless airstone for years.....'

Note, STAINLESS. Some of those airstones, I have been told, DISINTEGRATE in the alcohol.

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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby hudsonbay distillers » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:18 am

so here comes a dumb question .....see if you can guess which one . what volume of air are you guys using . how are you pumping it . and how long do you aerate it . are you talking continuous air or every day give it a little shot of bubbles .
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby the Doctor » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:46 am

The first 4 months of ageing are over Shiraz oak to colour (we never use caramel or 106 ) this is done with a constant flow of sub-micron air from a sintered stainless air-stone.... while that takes place we sometimes condition the final barrel with Madiera, Sherry or port under a couple of atmospheres of pressure. I will sometimes give the Whiskey a weeks Air Polish in an olive tank to get clean up the nose before bottling...it is a handy part of the arsenal.... we do not use O2...just filtered air... We are situated in a remote alpine environment and the air is high quality....hope that all makes sense.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby the Doctor » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:46 am

The first 4 months of ageing are over Shiraz oak to colour (we never use caramel or 106 ) this is done with a constant flow of sub-micron air from a sintered stainless air-stone.... while that takes place we sometimes condition the final barrel with Madiera, Sherry or port under a couple of atmospheres of pressure. I will sometimes give the Whiskey a weeks Air Polish in an olive tank to get clean up the nose before bottling...it is a handy part of the arsenal.... we do not use O2...just filtered air... We are situated in a remote alpine environment and the air is high quality....hope that all makes sense.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby hudsonbay distillers » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:56 am

thanks doc . do you notice a abnormal amount of angel share taken over that 4 month period .
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Fraser » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:14 am

Thank you all for the information. I'm in the process of turning low wines from grape pomace into a pomace brandy. It might taste fine as an eau de vie, and I'd be fine with that. But I'm also thinking that if it isn't to my liking I could go another way with it.

I'd try to oaking it on dominoes, infusing it with coriander and dried cherries and try to rapid age it with an air stone. I'm thinking that the oaking should come first until the desired color is there, then aerated for awhile and then macerating the coriander and cherries in a brew bag. The aeration seems like it might dissipate the flavor infusion, but maybe , maybe not. Either way it sounds like an interesting experiment.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Thu Nov 09, 2017 6:05 am

I see the "air" thing as two separate operations, for which I use 2 separate pieces of equipment. To oxidize wood compounds fo flavor (softening) , I use the airstone with O2 for maybe one 1-minute session per month.

To liberate the angel's share, cold evaporation producing a vapor loaded toward the sharper, low-boiling compounds, I blow large amount of (unfiltered, all we have here is sea breezes) air through the new product. It's a violent boiling process for a 2 minutes, and uses a Coleman airbed inflator as a pump.

It's my Angel Blaster.
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Re: Using an Airstone to oxygenate/age a brandy

Postby Fraser » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:34 am

Thanks, Bob. I'll have to noodle this a little bit and see what I can do in my spot. I'll post some photos of how I set this up if I go that route. I appreciate the great ideas.
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