My port barrel continues. I’ve had my barrel for around 9 months now and it seems to be progressing well. There’s been a few minor challenges, not least of which working out the easiest, and least messy, way of topping it up. The base tawny is kept in a 10 litre plastic flagon – it’s a fairly neutral way of storing which means it doesn’t vary in flavour. However, when it’s full, it can be rather hard to pour from without spillage. I now have some plastic tubing (food specific ie not the length of garden hose I was initially going to use) that I use to siphon port from the flagon into a pouring jug. I then carefully top up the barrel via a funnel from the jug.

A few months ago, having tried some rum port (Drayton’s), I decided to add some rum to the barrel. I’ve previously topped up with a nice port or two as well. Prior to adding the rum, I decanted off two bottles of port so that I could drink from the bottles and give the barrel time to absorb the rum and mature. I bought one of Bundaberg’s better rums and poured it in to the barrel; topping up the remainder from the base tawny. I’ve recently finished those bottles and have been sampling from the barrel – there is a very definite improvement.

Tonight, I poured a small glass from the barrel and decanted off two more bottles, then refilled from the base tawny once again. I also poured a small glass of the base to compare. There was a noticeable difference. The base tawny, while rather yum anyway, is fairly fresh with a sharper edge…not a lot of depth. The barrel sample however has a lovely, long finish that is rather smooth, almost treacly. Not really good at descriptive terms for port but there was definitely a stronger character with a nice, rounded flavour that lasted.

After 9 months, the barrel experiment is proving to be a success.

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