There is now no doubt about it – there is a growing shortage of new barrels in the American whiskey industry. One resulting fall out from this could be seeing distilleries owning their own cooperages, and thus more controlling their destinies when it comes to making sure fresh oak is on hand when it comes time to age sprits. One Oregon distillery which undertook such a process last year, Rogue Spirits, is now enjoying the fruits of its labor with word recently of the first barreling of whiskey into casks made in-house.
Rogue Spirits is owned by the popular Oregon brewpub chain Rouge Ales. They first made news last year when they announced the formation of Rolling Thunder Barrel Works, an in-house cooperage sourcing Oregon white oak “from the centuries-old oak groves of the Oregon Coast Range, less than 100 miles from Newport.” It is in Newport, on the Oregon coast, where Rogue Spirits matures its spirits so they are influenced by a bit of “ocean air aging.”
Rogue is known in Oregon for aiming for a “grain to glass” approach when it comes to its alcoholic beverages, be it beer or whiskey. They have their own farms where the grains are grown, for example, as well as a self described “farmstead malt house” where they do floor malting. It thus makes sense crafting their own barrels would be the next step in this process.
“We are thrilled about Rolling Thunder Barrel Works,” said Rogue President Brett Joyce in a statement last year. “Making our own Oregon Oak Barrels will provide us with endless possibilities for aging our ales, porters, stouts, lagers, braggots, meads, gins, vodka, rums, and whiskeys. Coopering is a time-honored tradition and highly skilled craft that will have a great home in Newport. This adventure will be full of learning and discovery and while we’re not exactly sure what the final products will look like, we are certain that it’s going to be a lot of fun along the way.”
There was no immediate word of when the first whiskey just put to barrel, Dead Guy Whiskey, would end up in bottle, or if it would get a special designation indicating its status of being aged in the Rogue made barrels.
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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...