Barton Barrel Warehouse Recovery Happening One Barrel At A Time

The full collapse of the Barton 1792 barrel warehouse at the distillery in Kentucky back in late June/early July has become something which now, for better or worse, is part of bourbon lore. For the folks tasked with cleaning up the whiskey mess, it is also a project that’s being done literally one barrel at a time.

Barrels from the collapsed Barton 1792 warehouse (image via Sazerac)

In video recently released by Sazerac, the parent company of the Barton distillery, we see how painstakingly slow this process is for those onsite (you can see this video at the end of this article). In essence, the barrel removal and inspection is going like this:

  1. A large crane picks up a barrel from the debris field and moves it into a staging area.
  2. A smaller crane picks up this barrel and moves it to a secondary staging area.
  3. A bobcat scoops up the barrel and takes it to an initial inspection area.
  4. An initial visual inspection is done, with barrels deemed to be in good shape being moved to a temporary storage area.
  5. Barrels that are leaking or showing visual signs of damage are moved to a containment area for some on-site coopering.
  6. A cooper works on these barrels, inspecting them further and making adjustments/repairs as needed and if possible. These fixes can include tightening hoops and checking the heads.
  7. These now adjusted barrels are loaded onto a bobcat and taken to another area where they are loaded into a trailer after a final inspection to be removed from the site.
  8. Barrels that were deemed sound and not needing repair are moved from the temporary storage area into a trailer after final inspection and then taken away.
Read More Whiskey News
The James Crow Chronicles: Part 5 (Woodford County & The Whiskey Economy)

As for the end fate of these barrels and their contents, the ones that were undamaged are being taken to a different aging facility to continue their slumber. The ones which are damaged are either repaired on site as mentioned above or, if the barrels are too damaged to repair, have their contents drained into special totes designed to hold the whiskey. This spirit is then transferred to barrel filling operations where ultimately it will re-barreled when enough liquid is accumulated.

All total, Barton had around 18,000 aging barrels of whiskey impacted by this disaster. There were also environmental impacts from all the spilled whiskey, with a large number of fish killed in a nearby creek.