This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Liquors, Wines, And Cordials, Without The Aid Of Distillation", by Pierre Lacour. Also available from Amazon: Manufacture of Liquors, Wines, and Cordials, Without the Aid of Distillation.
with black putty (this is a mixture of lamp black and putty); bring the whole even and smooth with the head of the barrel, then have a stencil pattern ready with the word COG., or any other word that will answer; and allowing the letter 0 to cover the putty. The 0 in the pattern should have the centre left out, thus forming a black circle. The object of this is to completely hide all traces of the faucet hole; and, if done with neatness, it will succeed admirably.
For giving age to new barrels, keep them in a damp, dark cellar, and dash water on them occasionally, or wash them several times, daily, until the desired appearance is obtained, with a solution composed of two gallons of water, three pounds of sulphuric acid, and one pound of sulphate of iron. When this solution is used, it will be useless to keep them in a cellar.
For scrubbing old barrels, use a very strong solution of sulphuric acid, or pure acid will answer best. The barrels should be well rubbed during the application of the acid. The acid acts by corroding the surface of the staves, and the friction or rubbing removes the corroded surface. Barrels subjected to this process soon tarnish.
All barrels, except new ones, and those old ones that yield a fine aroma, should be well cleansed from all odors, or they will, to a considerable extent, injure their proposed contents. Take, owing to a greater or less extent of the fetor, from a half to one glass of sulphuric acid, and pour into the barrel and bung down tightly, and roll the barrel in such a manner that the acid will reach all parts of the inside of the barrel. The acid can be decanted and kept for future use. Recollect to rinse out the barrel first with pure water before the acid is used. Another mode is to smear or saturate strips of cotton fabric with sulphur, rendered fluid by heat. Attach the end of one of these pieces to the under part of the bung, ignite the opposite end, put it in the barrel, and bung tightly.
The manufacturer should pay the strictest attention to the manner in which all of his brands and stencil patterns are executed. Neatness, correct proportion, and delicacy of touch should characterize the mechanical portion of them; and where instances may arise that the heads should be painted, nothing but the prettiest colors should be used. A few examples are offered. They can be adapted to suit convenience. A beautiful rose pink or peach blossom can be made by adding equal proportions of vermilion and drop lake, well ground together, to white lead, until the shade sought is produced.
Paris green, mixed with turpentine and oil, is the most brilliant green. The different shades of yellow are made from yellow ochre or chrome yellow; to be first ground, and then mixed with white lead, and brought to any shade required. These fine colors, for the most part, are used for cordial barrels. Domestic brandies, from long usage, are put up in wood colored heading. The American fancy brands of whiskey are often put up with neatly varnished oak-heads, which makes a very neat appearance. A small portion of burnt amber is added to the varnish to give the heads a darkish hue to be in keeping with the dull and oldish looking staves. The appearance just mentioned is imparted to the staves by sulphuric acid, etc, as above; that is, where the spirit is denominated "old," the manufacturer should have a complete set of brands and branding plates for foreign and domestic liquors. The imitation liquors should, if necessary, have the brands burnt in the head of the barrel; and some dealers have adopted the plan of marking the head of the barrel in the same style as the custom-house marks, and reads something like the following : - "Mary Pell, New York, June 9, 1851." Any other names, of course, would answer. All that is necessary is to have them resemble, as much as possible, what they are intended to represent. It is supposed that the barrels to be used are new ones, which always should