The Second Life of Bourbon Barrels

Bourbon is now popular around the globe, and so too are the barrels that it’s made in. Thanks to the spirit’s official rules, which state that the whiskey must be aged in new American oak, there is a thriving secondary market for these traditional containers. Here are some of our favorite ways that they are reused.

From Scotch and tequila to rum, many different types of liquor are actually matured in former bourbon casks. These seasoned vessels are often filled multiple times and are sometimes re-charred.

Brewers have also started using bourbon barrels to produce special bottlings. Why? Just as with hard alcohol, beer picks up a richness and sweetness from the wood and even a bit of the liquor’s flavor.

Forget cigars and barbecue; one of the best bourbon pairings is pancakes. Seriously. A number of boutique food companies are finishing maple syrup in used barrels. Blis buys casks that held 12- to 18-year-old bourbon and Noble gets its from Tuthilltown in upstate New York. Both also sell barrel-aged vinegars.

If you really love the brown spirit, you can make it a permanent part of your home with furniture created from reclaimed barrels. Uhuru Design, located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, nearly a thousand miles away from Kentucky, turns the staves into chairs, mirrors, benches and tables.

And a few mixologists, like Jeffrey Morgenthaler at Clyde Common in Portland, Ore., and Benjamin Schiller at Girl & the Goat in Chicago, are experimenting with aging Negronis and Manhattans in old barrels. We toast their pioneering spirit.

Series & Type: Products Trends

From our Friends



  • Warren Bobrow posted 6 years ago

    I purchased a bottle of the NOBLE Maple Syrup. It's even better than what I imagined. The flavor of the oak used to age Tuthilltown is deeply focused. The char and smoke of the Bourbon is immediately recognizable, cocktails come to mind immediately such as a Maple Sugar Sazerac, (Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey, Noble Maple Syrup, a few drops of Bitter End Thai Bitters and a splash of Vya Sweet Vermouth, frost the rim with some maple sugar)

    When I finished the Maple syrup, I filled the bottle with some more Tuthilltown Baby Bourbon. It looks great on my bar!

  • Terry Bovey posted 6 years ago

    Please note that the wooden barrels that are drawing so much attention are made in the good old USA.I might also add that we in the USA can also fill these barrels with damn good whiskey also.Moral of this story,we are proud that we can fill the bill with both the booze and what it comes in.Roll on USA.

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