1. How long does a Bourbon barrel last? Only as long as the Bourbon remains in the barrel. A requirement to be labeled Kentucky Bourbon is that the mash must be put in a new white oak barrel.
2. What happens to the barrel after the bourbon is bottled? The used Kentucky Bourbon barrels are emptied and exported and reused to make Scotch, Irish Whisky, Rum and Tequila.
3. Can I get a real Bourbon barrel? Yes, barrels are available for purchase. A firm in Danville, Kentucky has a huge selection (as you might imagine) of Kentucky Bourbon barrels both new, including distiller rejects, and used. They also have a wide selection of wine barrels. Kentucky Barrels has a complete online store with pictures, shipping estimator and secure online payment.
4. Will I be able to smell the Bourbon? If the barrel had Kentucky Bourbon in it, there will be a strong fragrance. Even after sitting in a warehouse for a long time empty, the aroma of Kentucky Bourbon will still be noticeable. Remember that if you have ideas to bring the barrel inside your home!
5. Can I make Kentucky Bourbon in the used barrel? Nope, once the barrel is used, it’s done as a Kentucky Bourbon barrel.
6. How about a new barrel, can I use that to make Kentucky Bourbon? Yes. New distiller spec barrels are available to the public.
7. How big is a Bourbon Barrel? They hold 53 gallons and are 36 inches tall, 21 inches in diameter top and bottom, 24 inches in the middle. They weigh about 110 lbs. new and 125 lbs. used.
8. What holds them together? Six double riveted steel hoops.
9. How are they made? As you can imagine, it’s a long, involved process, best described on the Kentucky Barrels page here.