Vanilla extract aged in oak cask?

thebarrelsourceBruce Pyeatt left a comment suggesting oak casks as an aging vessel for vanilla extract. He suggests as a source of new oak casks in various sizes.

I’m particularly fond of this one, a 1 liter oak cask for about $29.

I contacted about using oak to age vanilla extract, essentially a 35% alcohol liqueur.

Richard at writes:

The purpose of aging wine, spirits, or even Vanilla extract in an oak barrel is two fold, first to exctract tannins such as vanilla and other phenolics from the oak. Tannin is a French word meaning “crushed oak bark”. Tannins are of various compounds ,including tannic acid that occur naturally in the bark. Tannins are ployphenols,and form the second is called microoxidation, in which tannins, acids and other elements of the wine interact to slow and gradual exposure to oxygen through the grain of the wood. This process can take up to 6 months in large barrels but only three months in small oak barrels like the ones we manufacture. I believe aging in an oak barrel will “soften” and make more drinkable the vanilla extract.


Richard A. Weisberg

The Barrel Source


My notes on barrels:

  • Some barrels are charred. The char imparts flavor in the contents as they age.
  • Charred barrels are for aging, not for storage, because the ‘oak’ will become overpowering.
  • A charred barrel can be used several times, but becomes mellow with use.
  • Barrels should only be used with a single liquid (eg only Merlot or only whiskey).
  • Barrels have to be soaked (in water) before use.
  • I saw several examples of uncharred barrels for sale on the web. These seem appropriate for long term storage.


One Response to “Vanilla extract aged in oak cask?”

  1. Jackson says:

    One quick thing:
    Couldn’t you just as easily age the vanilla by putting toasted oak chips in the bottle you are aging?

    Say you take 3.5 liters of vodka, and 1 pound vanilla beans. Add 285 ml of bourbon to give it some kick and make it a round gallon, and then put it all in a gallon jar. You could then get some toasted oak chips from you local homebrewing store(or online) to age the vanilla. Wouldn’t that work just as well?