The Spirit of Slow-Crafting

Yesterday we received our first shipment of oak barrels. These are charred American oak that we will fill with a bourbon for which we created the recipe. Well, technically, it will be bourbon upon release in about a year when the oak barrels have imparted both character and color.

It was very exciting to get the barrels. A bit of a Christmas Day as a kid kind of feeling. Is it the excitement of starting a new project, of getting creative again, of defining and then redefining our process and techniques? In part, but the barrels themselves hold an odd allure. Getting any new equipment is exciting, but there was something special about these. Freeing a brand-new, 200 gallon, stainless steel fermenter from its packing crate is exciting (and they’re also a pain to stand upright), but, again, the barrel has a different charm. Finally, we realized that we identify with the barrel-making process. A lot of the available distillery equipment rolls off assembly lines, touched and tested only here and there by various workers. Making barrels out of wood takes more time, more handling, more patience and attention. Our distillery works in this same way. It is possible to make spirits in a mechanical, industrialized process, but they’ll lack the animating “spirit” of human interaction. We’ll fill these barrels with bourbon made in the same way the barrels themselves were made.

Long live slow-craft, and long live coopering.