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fricky
05-24-2009, 09:55
I don't know if they are called barrel nails; however, they were apparently used by Continenatl Distilling to keep the the barrel bands from slipping off of the barrel. The attached photographs show a picture of one of the Continental Distilling barrels obtained by Dave Ziegler. It is a closeup view of one of the nails. The other picture shows 2 views of the nails and their approximate dimensions.

Does anyone know if they were used extensively. Were they in fact intended to keep the bands from slipping off when the barrel was standing upright? Are they still being used by any distillery? I would think that the bands would be relatively tight while the barrels were full.

wispotsill
05-24-2009, 15:16
I would imagine they were commonplace for years. They are still used today, but not by everbody. They are insurance against hoops slipping. We have some 10 gallon barrels from one cooperage with them, and some 10 gallon barrels from another cooperage without them.

Bourbon Geek
05-25-2009, 06:29
In years past, they were a necessity ... the technology wasn't there to hydraulically press the hoops into place and keep them there ... so they were hammered into place and then nailed to keep them there.

The vast majority of barrels manufactured today do not use the nails ... for several reasons ...

1. They are not usually needed to keep the hoops in place
2. Their use just adds cost to the production price ... lots of labor ...
3. Some believe that using nails can eventually cause iron to be extracted into the whiskey ... especially long aged product ... and cause unwanted chemical reactions in the barrel that lessen the quality of the product being matured.

They are still used, but only if absolutely necessary. If you empty a barrel and want to keep it intact for years afterwards, the nails (or screws) are almost a necessity ... because as the barrels dry out, the wood shrinks, and the hoops become loose. They eventually fall off, and the barrel collapses.