How Old is a Retired Whiskey Barrel?
The life of a whiskey barrel moves along several phases. It starts out as an oak tree, harvested into wooden strips to be toasted then crafted into a barrel. From there mashed grapes, along with other ingredients, are placed into the barrels for a time, in some cases as much as thirty years. Eventually, the qualities that make oak so desirable for aging wine are ‘leached’ out of the wood, no longer depositing those rich tastes of butter and vanilla in the wine.
After a barrel is no longer used for aging wine, often it is shipped to whiskey and scotch manufacturers. For scotch, dessert wines such as a sherry or port are preferred to age their spirits. The stained barrels give the whiskey and scotch its signature coloring. Depending on the type of liquor, it ages in the barrels over the course of months are even years. In the case of single-malt scotch, the aging process requires a minimum of three years and one day. These barrels may be used for as long as seventy years.
By the time a barrel has served in aging both wine and whiskey (or scotch), it can potentially be more than two centuries old. Imagine the history that barrel has witnessed. How things have changed since the cooper who manufactured that barrel, however many years ago. Many time honored traditions as well as trades have succumbed to the rolling tide of modernization and technology. Methods, perfected by masters of their craft over the centuries, have been drained of that human touch that radiated pride and expertise. Instead, those skills and qualities are being sacrificed in the name of profit and efficiency. The whiskey barrel is a functional link to that time.
Adopt a Whiskey Barrel
In recent years there has been a surge in demand for whiskey barrel furniture. Pub tables, coffee tables, vanity sinks all can be fashioned with ‘retired’ whiskey barrels. They are perfect additions to any home or room that’s in need of a touch of character. An old barrel can even be converted into a whiskey barrel chest, not only bringing class to your storage needs but also efficiency.
So please, give these aged barrels a chance. Allow them to be part of your home. Rescue a Whiskey Barrel.