What is a Cooper?

What is a Cooper?

What is a cooper?  Seems there are many children with the name Cooper, but not a whole lot of actual coopers out there. Traditionally, a cooper was the man that made barrels, or staved vessels.  A stave is a length of wood, usually cut from the center of a tree trunk, that is cut into a plank (think 1×3”-1×4” wood planks at Home Depot).  Anything a cooper produces is referred to as cooperage.  The facility where casks or barrels are made is also called a cooperage.  The cooperage produced necessary storage vessels for their communities and often the cooper was needed aboard ships and by the military. A “tight” cooper, historically, made barrels that held liquid.  White oak is the only wood that successfully holds water and other liquids due to the...

Barrel Shortage Effect

Barrel Shortage Effect

The barrel shortage is affecting our American whiskey… There are just about 27 cooperages in America…http://www.acia.net/membership.html The demand for good aged American white oak is such that most staves are not aged, as they once were, in the open, but kiln dried. Open-air drying (as compared to the more rapid kiln drying) decreases the possibility of barrel leakage, and leaches more tannins from the wood, resulting in a softer, finer finish to the whiskey. Most cooperages won’t even answer the consumer anymore how long the staves have cured. Wine makers often scoff at the quality of “whiskey barrels” and distillers often have no room to complain because they are trapped. Either you get what you get or you get nothing. There is an...