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  1. #1

    is there a good supply of new oak.

    How does the bourbon industry keep a steady supply of the oak lumber. Is there a strict lumber management policy. I hope, we aren't exhausting the oak lumber supply. We can't get bourbon with out new oak. What a horror, if someday all the oak was used up.
    mark h.

  2. #2
    Enthusiast
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    Those "in the know" that I've discussed this with have said the distilleries work internally to ensure their oak supplies stay replenished/replanted...it is an on-going process. I do believe that they work in accord with others "outside"....I guess in a check-in-balance to see their supplys are not endangered as well as the environment. See ya, H'wood

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    I hope they do. I'm in the shadow of Beam at Clermont. I have more dead trees standing on my 48 acres than used to be on the whole 100+ acre tract 40 years ago . What trees are dying at the highest rate? White oak! I think they get a lot of the wood from Missouri and Arkansas.

  4. #4
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    Bobby,

    Do you know why all those white oaks are dying? Is it acid rain?

    Bob

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    A little of 2 things, pollution and drought stress. It's odd too, a large source of pollution are the Bourbon warehouses. I was surprized a few years ago to read they are in the top ten for the Louisville area. I think the paint shop at Ford Motor Company and a few chemical plants beat them out. I had no idea and I still don't know if it's enviromental wackos or good science. We have had a few years drought here and I notice they go at an accellerated rate. Last year wasn't considered a dought year but there was a lot to be desired as far as the timing of the rains were concerned. Oh well can't do anything about that. There will be some trees to die in the course of things , as the forest gets larger and the competition heats up for water , food and sunlight. At one time the American Chestnut was a full 25% of the hardwood forest and now they are gone, there was a grove of them in Minn, or Wisconson that escaped the blight and there is an attempt to reintroduce those. It boggles the mind, If you walk into a wooded area , for every 3 trees you see there once was a 4th American Chestnut , completely obliterated. I don't think acid rain is significant for this area.
    Also they just now are admitting that a lot of Louisvilles pollution is coming up the Ohio Valley from St Louis. Not that we don't make plenty of it ourselves, but we are getting help.

  6. #6

    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    It's good to know, that the bourbon makers know the oat is an exhaustable resource and are taking measures to preserve it. I am sorry to hear, that Kentucky is getting pollution from St. Louis. Since I am a St. Louis area resident, I know the amount of cut and burn, and industrial junk the city unleashes. Around Saint Louis University, I can always smell the fishy scent of Ethylene Glycol(anti-freeze) production, whenever I'm out and about campus. I know, it causes cancer!
    mark h.

  7. #7

    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    I live in Southwestern Missouri and there are several saw mills around here that mill oak staves for barrels. I dont know where they go from here but they are busy sending staves down the road at a pretty good clip.

    As far as drought goes...an oak is very good at getting the water it needs to survive. I live in a sparcely populated rocky soil/ steep hollar area and the oak trees are so thick you cant walk through them and most are in excess of 60 feet tall. In the last 100 years most of this land has been clear cut 2 to 3 times and the standing timber available now is natures own rejuvination...not manmade.

    My guess is there are plenty of White Oaks around for the barrels.

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    All of the distilleries in Bourbon Country are supplied by two cooperages, Independent Stave and Bluegrass. Independent has a plant in Kentucky and one in Missouri, both in towns called Lebanon. Bluegrass is in Louisville and is owned by Brown-Forman. There are a couple of other companies in Kentucky that call themselves cooperages, but they are in the business of breaking down used bourbon barrels and shipping them to Scotland or wherever. The lumber for bourbon barrels mostly comes from Arkansas and Missouri. The mills dry the wood (mostly air dried, some kiln) and roughly cut it. The cooperages plane the staves and assemble the barrels using only wood and steel hoops. No adhesives, no nails. The barrels are also charred at the cooperage. They arrive at the distilleries ready to be filled. As for the resource, barrels used to be used to store and ship many types of items. About their only use today is for aging alcoholic beverages, so the demand for barrel-quality white oak is much less than it was a century ago.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: is there a good supply of new oak.

    Barrels...That was the topic of discussion with a few of the "Old Timers" at Heaven Hill...Old Timers?? I call them that, with respect ...meaning--- been there since dirt ...YEAH right...sometimes when they holler for me they say, Jobettye Dirt ...We do like to mess with folks...Makes for a good place to work

    They talked about the different size a barrel can be...Hmmmmmmm I thought they were all the same ... Willets up on the hill are barrels that they remember...His barrels were 6 inches smaller (and fatter) than a standard barrel...They would not fit into Heaven Hill's warehouse's...so short they would fall through to the floor...Maybe that's why his (Willet's) warhouses are vacant they are built for the short barrels...

    The also mentioned the McDonlal Muir barrels they were huge(hog head)...held 70 proof gallons...Heaven Hill "had" a lot of them...the sad part they are all gone now...during the Fire of 96' that was the greatest loss (bourbon barrels) for us...That info is straight from the "Man"---(working foreman---Heaven Hill)---
    Buzzy Pardue...Hell, everybody calls him "Buzzy"...I had to stop him one day and ask what his given name was...It's Richard...

    Bettye Jo

  10. #10
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    Old Timers

    Heck, at my job, I am an old timer at 41 years old. I need to switch to the bourbon industry so that I can become a spring chicken again.

 

 

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