LOUISVILLE — Another sign of the boom in bourbon and American whiskey: increased demand for barrels.
Brown-Forman, maker of Woodford Reserve bourbon and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, requires so many barrels to age its spirits that it has its own cooperage in Louisville.
The factory makes more than 600,000 barrels a year — about 2,800 a day in two nine-hour shifts — "and it isn't enough," said Darren Whitmer, cooperage operations manager. In 2014, a new cooperage will open in Decatur, Ala.
About 85 percent of the barrels Brown-Forman makes in Louisville go to Lynchburg, Tenn., for Jack Daniel's, whose black-label "Old No. 7" is the largest-selling whiskey in the world.
Even the modern, mechanized process for making a barrel requires tremendous hands-on skill. A good cooper can make 250 a day.
Watch the barrel-making process in action in our photo gallery and video. And watch a video of the history of Brown-Forman's cooperage.