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The Afterlife of a Bourbon Barrel

Posted by Reese on 2011-10-13 @ 05:27pm

According to a recent article on Yahoo! Finance there are currently over 5 million barrels of whiskey aging in Kentucky alone.  And, unlike other spirits industries, those barrels will be used for bourbon only one time.  You see, per federal guidelines, to be called bourbon, whiskey must be aged in new charred oak barrels.  So, that begs the question, where do all of those barrels go after they’ve aged delicious bourbon.

Maker's Mark Display Barrel

Turns out they go all over the world and get used for all kinds of stuff.  The one you’re likely already aware of is that they get sent to other distilleries to age other spirits.  Scotch and rum are the two big users of bourbon barrels.  But did you know that some bitters are aged in whiskey barrels?  How about cocktailsBeer? Fish sauce?  Yeah, me either.

The folks over at Tasting Table followed a few barrels as they left Kentucky distilleries to see where they ended up.  They have a great artcile and infographic showing what they found.  Some of the uses sure surprised me.