Whether it's scotch or bourbon or rye, without these oak barrels, whiskey as we know it = whales wouldn't exist. Scotch ( Johnnie Walker) Bourbon ( Jim Beam) Rye ( Wild Turkey) Tennessee ( Jack Daniels)
The Art of Creating Whiskey The barrel contributes over half of the flavor and all the color in the whiskey. Controlling that process throughout the supply chain is critical to making great whiskeys. The men of this factory can crank out over 1,500 barrels in a single day.
The Art of Creating Whiskey It happens with little more than some wood, metal hoops, and some really loud machinery. White oak is basically used because it's got a chemical that seals, keeps it from leaking.
The Art of Creating Whiskey This way of making barrels goes back 2,000 years. But big machines haven't made it any less complicated. The barrels have been charred to bring to the sugars to the end. It gives the whiskey its color and flavor. The seal is tested by pumping it full of air. If the cork pops, it's ready for whiskey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfsQEVDxuFI
Explain Kyle!? Back in the 19th century, whiskey barrels were used to carry cargo even more valuable than the spirit. It was a rank, oily substance that made it possible to read a book after dark or light your way … What was it?
Whale Oil as a Fuel Source Back then, ships would fan out across the world and return to fill thousands of barrels with precious oil rendered from whale blubber. But whale oil was far from the perfect fuel, especially from the point of view of the whales.
SALT Oddly enough, it started with salt. Often mined underground, salt miners frequently ran into a black, bubbly goo that ruined their product….
Crude Oil is the Byproduct of Salt! Today we call it crude oil, but back then, literally billions of dollars of it were pumped away as waste. It's funny when you think back about it. Salt was so valuable, people were mining it, and it was being constantly contaminated by this ugly, gooey black stuff.
Samuel Kier That was, until Samuel Kier came along. He was a salt-mine owner whose profits were being ruined by oozing black crude.
So How did this Lead to Whiskey Saving the Whales? Well, it turned out that Kier not only liked making money from salt, he liked playing around with an old whiskey still. One day in the late 1840s, He decided to try an unusual product in his still -- the crude black oil from his salt mine. All it took was some bright person to realize that the stuff that was contaminating the salt could be distilled off and that it, itself, could be valuable. ***OIL***
By 1851, he had figured out how basic distillation could separated out in a brand-new fuel that would be superior to the blubber, It was superior because it wasn't smelly and stinky. But then, also, it was something that could be collected more easily. Ultimately, Kier's methods of distilling crude oil and barreling what came out gave birth to the modern oil industry, and in the process saved much of the world's whale population.
Whale Oil vs. Petroleum When you think about it, there are not too many differences between a modern petroleum refinery and a giant whiskey still. You're still taking a mixture and distilling off the substances you want in a more pure form. And compared to smelly old whale oil, this pure-form substance gets us to work in the morning, gets food on our table, and makes our world a little bit smaller.
Bye Bye Whale Oil The world abandons the practice of using whale oil and moves on instead to fossil fuel. International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling of 1946
Thus, whiskey saved the whales! Yes, whiskey brought our giant friends in the ocean back from the edge of extinction.
And just to bring this story full circle, when the early oil men needed a leak-proof container for their product, guess what came to the rescue. That's right -- whiskey -- or, rather, what it's aged in. Even today, the term "barrel" remains the unit of measure for raw crude…
…and it's all because whiskey saved the whales!