Brown-Forman Celebrates 70 years of barrel-making - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Brown-Forman Celebrates 70 years of barrel-making

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Barrels are often seen as mere containers.

But not by Brown-Forman.

The Louisville-based distiller quickly realized the rich flavor and color they added to some of your favorite spirits. Making nearly 2,500 a day and 600,000 every year, Brown-Forman is the only distiller in the industry to hand-craft all of its own barrels.

It's been doing it for 70 years.

On Wednesday, officials and employees signed a commemorative barrel to celebrate this milestone.

"All the color in a glass of bourbon is from the barrel and 50-60 percent of the aroma," said Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris. "So this is so important to our industry.”

Dozens of different stations, 300 workers and lots of wood are all part of what keeps the Brown-Forman Cooperage going.

"Most people don't realize that oak has a lot of sugar in it and those sugar components actually burn inside the wood," Morris said. "And what do they burn into? Caramel, honey notes, vanilla character, chocolate. It's burnt sugar -- and that's where so much of our flavor comes from."

The company has spent decades researching the relationship between its barrels and whiskeys. It's that pairing that has made products like Old Forester, Woodford Reserve and Jack-Daniel's what they are today.

The company doesn’t sell its barrels to its competitors. They're used exclusively for Brown-Forman products.

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