About Badmotivator Barrels


Badmotivator Barrels are crafted from stainless steel cans, specifically bain marie inserts, with wooden heads made of quartersawn American White Oak. The wood undergoes weathering to modify tannins and encourage the breakdown of hemicellulose and lignin into flavor-enhancing molecules. These barrels feature a bunghole and bung for filling and emptying, along with a convenient stainless steel spigot. To prevent leaks, beeswax is used between the head staves and around the head's edge where it meets the can. Since July 2022, each barrel head is secured in the can with three stainless steel nails, a modification introduced to prevent head movement caused by environmental changes leading to internal pressure fluctuations.

Surface Area to Volume Ratio

The design of the barrels is intended to mimic the conditions inside a large oak barrel such as those used in the aging of whiskies, rums, tequilas, brandies, and others.¹ The spirit should have a similar exposure to an area of oak, per volume, as in the big casks. The surface area to volume ratio (SA/V) of the 1.8 gal Badmotivator Barrel is 27.8 in²/gal. If you under-fill them by a bit and rest them head-down, you increase the effective SA/V ratio. For example, 1.25 gallons resting in such an orientation sees 40 in²/gal. 1 gallon, head down, gets you 50 in²/gal.

By comparison, the SA/V ratio of a standard American barrel is about 54 in²/gal, but only when full. As the angels take their share and the liquid level drops, so does the SA/V. Well-aged spirits in these barrels spend a lot of their time resting on less than 50 in²/gal. Puncheons, often used to age rums, sherrys, and used to “finish” whiskies, have a SA/V around 17 in²/gal.

In my experience, these barrels do not over-oak or under-oak spirits. They contribute a rich and fascinating blend of oak flavors, none of them harsh (unless you use un-seasoned or under-seasoned oak) or unpleasant.

  • Maturation

    Maturation is incredibly complex, and will not be explained in detail here. Here is a list of sources which may help you understand maturation better:

    1. Barrel Maturation” at Tom Macy Cocktails
  • Stave Thickness

    Whiskey barrel stave thicknesses range from ¾” to 1”. Badmotivator Barrel staves are about 15/16” thick. In the future I may experiment with thinner staves, but for now I have no information about what benefits they may bring .


The spirits industry uses casks of many sizes. Among others there are Quarter Casks (13 gal), Barrels (≈53 gal), Hogsheads (≈63 gal), Barriques (≈79 gal), Sherry Butts (≈130 gal), Puncheons (both “machine” and “sherry shape”)(≈123 gal), Port Pipe (≈172 gal), Gorda (≈185 gal). There are others, of course. All of them have different SA/V ratios, from higher to lower as the cask size increases. (Source: Difford’s Guide)