Over time barrels loose their potency, leading distillers to explore barrel rejuvenation alternatives to save on the cost of replacing expensive barrels.

The process of ageing spirits in oak barrels has been common place for many hundreds of year. Industrial manufacturing, global demand for high quality spirits and the scarcity of 100 year old oak trees has driven the price of new oak barrels beyond the reach of many distillers. This has forced distillers to restore their used barrels through scraping and re-charring. This labour intensive and highly skilled process is expensive and disrupts the production process. Distillers have trialed the use of oak chips, staves, poles and powders to deliver oak character and the mellow mouthfeel that customers are familiar with and demand.

New Barrels

cask ageing

All distillers would use new barrels if costings, economics and ultimately profit were of no issue

Premium brands are able to justify the cost of ageing all spirit in new barrels, however most distillers are operating in an increasingly competitive marketplace where justifying $ 1300 for a new French oak barrel is not feasible.

Net effect

Refurbished Barrels

Used barrels can be de-stacked and transported to a trusted cooperage.

The barrel is shaved to remove the depleted layers of oak and re-charred before being returned. This process cannot be repeated more than 3 times

Refurbishment is cheaper than buying a new barrel but is still a skilled and costly processes with risks of leaking and barrel failure.

Net effect

Oak Chips

Many distillers opt to assist the ageing process by adding oak chips to the barrel.

The process is highly cost effective however distillers struggle to remove these oak chips after application, lose volume through displacement and lose actual production through absorption. Most removal requires complete de-stacking.

Net effect

Oak Inserts

Inserts operate in a similar way to oak chips where oak staves, poles and blocks are added to the barrel. Most formats are stringed together and attached to the bung for simpler removal. Bagged products are more challenging to remove, some requiring removal of the barrel lid.

Inserts are more expensive and have a reduced effect due to lower surface area when compared with oak chips.

Net effect


There are a number of variants of the above including the use of oak powder which has the greatest surface area (and therefore end result) however powders also have the ability to ‘scalp’ colour, flavour and aroma and require product filtration and extensive post-production barrel cleaning.

All of the above methods have their advantages and disadvantages and are traded off against the cost as well as efficiency of the process of addition and removal.

Modern distilling has to account for not only  raw material cost but also other factors including production efficiency, complexity, disruption, and always deliver product quality.


Madeva offers a natural barrel rejuvenation solution that excels in crucial areas affecting your costs and production timelines. Our natural solution is user-friendly and removes the need for barrel insertion or removal. This ensures minimal disruption to your production process while revitalising your used barrels with the same essential oak characteristics as provided in barrels or oak adjuncts.

Madeva delivers a cost effective solution that is simple to apply, requires no barrel de-stacking, does not impact on either absorption or displacement has a rapid impact on the barrel, without compromising the final product’s quality by avoiding scalping or altering the flavour profile of your spirits.

barrel rejuvenation

We would love to hear about your current maturation and barrel rejuvenation challenges, please reach out to us to discuss where we can help and allow us to share some of the experiences of other distillers in their challenges to find effective and cost efficient strategy in managing barrel costs, barrel depletion and alternative adjuncts to improve their production and cost base.