And You Thought Being a Drunk Was Easy

I go to a liquor store, and Jack Daniels looks to me like just another brown liquor in a glass bottle.


It takes wooden barrels – thousands and thousands of wooden barrels – to make the stuff.

This is their story.

[Vimeo direct link]

Seeing the massive scale of it kinda blew my mind.

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  1. I’m a bourbon man myself (my favorite is Woodford Reserve), and the barrel is a huge part of what makes a bourbon, or whiskey, or wiskey, or scotch good. So much of the flavor comes from it. I took a tour in a Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky, and we got to sample straight up fresh Kentucky bourbon, just off the tap. Was really clean, but had absolutely no taste. It is perfectly clear, like vodka.

    The color and taste comes from sitting in white oak barrels for years, as temperature changes with the seasons, and the liquor seeps into and out of the oak of the barrel. It takes 10 years in a barrel to make a good bourbon.

    I liked this video. It is amazing that, even with all of the automation involved, how much of it is still done manually using the old cooper trade of barrel-making.

    And a fun fact: the white oak barrels used to age Kentucky bourbon live another life. After their bourbon-aging days, they are exported to Scotland to age scotch. Most modern aged scotch is actually part Kentucky bourbon (some are aged in sherry casks, which is darker, not as good). Which is the better liquor? In my opinion, bourbon…but a good scotch is hard to say no to as well.


  2. I’m not as fond of Bourbon – the smoke flavor is too overwhelming. For Scotch, I like Macallan and Glenmorangie.

    Also a fan of rye, although I understand it’s not for everyone – there’s a LOT going on there, and sometimes you want something simpler.


  3. I guess it is the smoke flavor that I like so much.

    As far as beers go, I also am a big fan of stouts. So that might explain my tastes.

    Rye is good. I don’t like Jack Daniels much because I find it too sweet, as is my major beef with Tennessee sour mash whiskeys.


  4. Thank goodness for automation.
    If every whiskey barrel was made completely by hand, the demand would greatly outstrip the supply and a good whiskey would be worth its weight in gold.
    Only royalty would be able to afford it.
    But thanks to automation, we can all afford to be as drunk as lords!


  5. Did I see some graffiti scrawled, “Men only, no boys allowed”?

    An aspiring cooper, Julia becomes yet another victim of the shot glass ceiling.

    Let the congressional hearings begin!


  6. That’s just foolish. Not to mention the carbon footprint. Just add artificial colors and flavors and get exactly the same result.


  7. By Federal Law – bourbon must be 50% corn liquor aged for a year in a brand new White Oak barrel
    in the state of Kentucky.

    That is why Jack Daniels is not bourbon. It is aged in Tennessee.

    And, Canadian whiskey is made with USED barrels they buy from the bourbon distillers.
    And, most gold Tequila is usually just clear tequila with added coloring.



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