WBEZ | bourbon http://www.wbez.org/tags/bourbon Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As bourbon booms, demand for barrels is overflowing http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bourbon-booms-demand-barrels-overflowing-111303 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/barrel.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you could make a lot of bourbon whiskey these days, you could be distilling real profits. Bourbon sales in this country are up 36 percent over the last five years.</p><p>But you&#39;d need new wooden barrels for aging your new pristine product. Simple white oak barrels, charred on the inside to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/09/220655227/rye-bother-an-inside-the-barrel-look-at-american-whiskeys" target="_blank">increase flavor</a> and add color, are becoming more precious than the bourbon.</p><p>Making these barrels is a very old craft, almost an art, called cooperage. The Scots-Irish who settled in Appalachia could do this. Cut the white oak boards into staves, steam them to bend, make metal hoops to hold the barrel tight.</p><p>My first stop to see this process is the small town of Lebanon, Ky. This cooperage is one of several owned by a company called Independent Stave. It&#39;s based in Missouri and it&#39;s the largest maker of whiskey barrels in the world.</p><p>As the barrels take shape they are carried, rolled, and conveyed &ndash; sometimes overhead &ndash; to the different work stations. Starting out as a collection of oak staves, they are fitted together, steamed, bound with steel and seared with flame before arriving at the end ready for inspection.</p><p>&quot;The barrel has water and air in it,&quot; says Leo Smith, the supervisor for the last stop on the production line. &quot;They&#39;re looking for any kind of leak or defect in the barrel. He&#39;s gonna put a plug in that barrel where it&#39;s leaking to stop that leak.&quot;</p><p>The plug is a simple piece of cedar, whittled by hand.</p><p>Independent Stave is a family-owned company and they don&#39;t talk much. I can&#39;t ask how many people work here in Kentucky or how many barrels they make. But the plant manager, Barry Shewmaker, does say, in the last two years production has doubled.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re seen an increase and it looks like there&#39;s no end in sight,&quot; Shewmaker says.</p><p><a href="http://www.independentstavecompany.com/">Independent Stave</a> makes barrels for the big distilleries &ndash; Kentucky brand names you might have tasted &mdash; and so far Independent is staying steady with demand.</p><p>But there&#39;s another need for oak barrels: very small craft distilleries starting to make bourbon, vodka, gin or rum. Their output is low &ndash; sort of like a drop compared to the big brands&ndash; but someone does have to make the barrels.</p><p>Kevin and Paul McLaughlin moved to Louisville from Scotland and are joint presidents of <a href="http://kelvincooperage.com/">Kelvin Cooperage</a> here. For more than 20 years they&#39;ve been crafting wine barrels, and they buy used bourbon barrels to fix up and sell to the whiskey trade in Scotland and Ireland.</p><p>But now a different market has come right to them: They&#39;re making white oak barrels for the newly-rising craft distillers. Paul McLaughlin takes me to watch the charring process &ndash; they put oak scraps in the finished barrel &ndash; and soon we see the flames. In the beginning it&#39;s called toast.<br /><br />&quot;We start smelling kind of a baked bread &mdash; that&#39;s what we like, that&#39;s when we know we&#39;re getting the toast layer and once we have the toast layer we&#39;ll let the barrel ignite,&quot; says Paul McLaughlin. &quot;You get baked bread, you get marzipan &mdash; really nice smells.&quot;<br /><br />There may be as many as 700 small craft distillers in the U.S. today, and that number is going up fast.<br /><br />&quot;Some of them call and say I&#39;m making whiskey I&#39;ve got my stills going and I need barrels and I didn&#39;t think there would ever be a problem getting barrels,&quot; Kevin McLaughlin says.<br /><br />At the Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville they are working overtime. But the company estimates that in 2015 they could sell all the barrels they could make, 10 times over.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/29/373787773/as-bourbon-booms-demand-for-barrels-is-overflowing" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s The Salt</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 16:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bourbon-booms-demand-barrels-overflowing-111303 Eat this, drink that: wild game dinner, tiki for charity, and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-02/eat-drink-wild-game-dinner-tiki-charity-and-more-105680 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/6939474221/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/harvardwildchili.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Buffalo chili at Harvard Sportsman Club Wild Game Dinner 2012 in Harvard, Illinois (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></a></p><p><strong>Friday, February 22</strong></p><p>Artist Tony Fitzpatrick&#39;s <a href="http://www.firecatprojects.org/">Firecat Projects</a> presents the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/486143294776644/">Cig Harvey Opening and Book Signing</a>.&nbsp;It&#39;s the gallery&#39;s first exhibit of photographs, and features Harvey&#39;s <a href="http://www.cigharvey.com/">stunning portrait work</a>. She will sign copies of her monograph <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9053307710?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=9053307710&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><em>You Look At Me Like An Emergency</em></a>. Three Floyds beer and wine courtesy of Red &amp; White Wines will be served. Grab a bite next door from our friends at Red Door. Be sure to meet Firecat co-founder/director Stan Klein and his <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/8132815946/">enigmatic muse Ella</a>. Admission FREE.</p><p><strong>Saturday, February 23</strong></p><p>For the Love of Chocolate Foundation presents their 8th Scholarship Foundation Annual Gala at the Union League Club of Chicago. The dinner is sold out but tickets are still available to the <a href="http://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=1391&amp;EID=13212">Dessert Dance Party</a> &mdash; and we know that&#39;s why you&#39;re really there. Walk the red carpet to find desserts by The French Pastry School alumni and all-access to the Cocoa Couture Fashion Show. The foundation awards scholarships to full-time&nbsp;students at The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College. Admission $150.</p><p><strong>Sunday, February 24</strong></p><p>The Harvard Sportsman&#39;s Club presents the annual <a href="http://hscillinois.org/Calendar_of_Events.html">Wild Game Dinner</a>&nbsp;in McHenry County. My advice: dress warm in layers and get there early. The classic hunters&#39; menu will include pheasant, duck, venison, turkey, goose, plus wild game surprises. Possibly turtle soup this year? Admission $12, $10 early bird special. I will definitely <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-02-27/dinner-where-wild-things-are-96788">be there again</a>.</p><p><strong>Monday, February 25</strong></p><p><a href="http://reddoorchicago.com/">Red Door Kitchen &amp; Bar</a> presents a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/417192641708709/">Tiki Charity Event</a> to benefit the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer">Greater Chicago Food Depository</a>. The Aviary&#39;s Charles Joly, Blackbird&#39;s Lynn House, Sepia&#39;s Josh Pearson, and Red Door&#39;s own Jay Schroeder <a href="http://www.esquire.com/drinks/zombie-drink-recipe">will Zombie-fy you</a> &mdash; plus pu pu platter inspired food by&nbsp;Avec&#39;s&nbsp;Freddy Noinaj and&nbsp;Graham Stein. Admission $25 suggested donation, for four drinks and food.</p><p><strong>Tuesday, February 26</strong></p><p>deca restaurant presents the <a href="http://www.decarestaurant.com/#/special_offers/specials_Burton_and_Bourbon_Dinner/">Burton and Bourbon Dinner</a>&nbsp;[WARNING: AUTOPLAY MUSIC] at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Join our friend, the one and only Tim Burton of <a href="http://www.burtonsmaplewoodfarm.com/">Burton&#39;s Maplewood Farms</a> for a maple syrup inspired dinner, paired with Woodford Reserve bourbon cocktails. Plus author David Hoppe will sign copies of his beautiful book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934922757?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1934922757&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><em>Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest.</em></a> Admission $59. And remember, Burton&#39;s <a href="http://nationalmaplesyrupfestival.com/">National Maple Syrup Festival</a> is coming up again in Medora, Indiana &mdash; and&nbsp;I will definitely <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2012-03-07/amber-waves-national-maple-syrup-festival-97081">be there again</a> too.</p><p><strong>Wednesday, February 27</strong></p><p><a href="http://soupandbread.net/">Soup &amp; Bread</a>&nbsp;presents this week&#39;s theme,&nbsp;<a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApPhpdY9KXzPdDRfMUk3WFFoZlRNd2VvR0RJcjdJS1E#gid=0">NYC vs. LA</a>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hideoutchicago.com/event/208501-soup-bread-chicago/">at the Hideout</a>.&nbsp;How&#39;s that represent in soup? They don&#39;t know either, so &quot;go to town!&quot; Bread from Publican Quality Meats and La Farine Bakery, this week all benefitting&nbsp;<a href="http://www.associationhouse.org/">Association House</a>&nbsp;in West Town. Admission FREE, by donation. Bonus Thursday night! <a href="http://soupandbread.net/2013/02/14/happiness-is-a-benefit-for-soup-bread/">Happiness is...a benefit for Soup &amp; Bread</a>&nbsp;with <a href="http://theateroobleck.com/plays/there-is-a-happiness-that-morning-is-2013">Theater Oobleck&lsquo;s revival of Mickle Maher&rsquo;s play <em>There Is A Happiness That Morning Is</em></a>&nbsp;at&nbsp;<a href="http://victorygardens.org/onstage/oobleck.php">Victory Gardens Biograph Theater</a>. Admission $15 or &ldquo;more if you&rsquo;ve got it, free if you&rsquo;re broke.&rdquo; Half of the night&#39;s box office will benefit Soup &amp; Bread.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Thursday, February 28</strong></p><p>Experimental Station presents <a href="http://www.chpv.org/calendar?font-size=large">Winterdine, a five-course winter wood-fired dinner</a>&nbsp;by Avec&#39;s&nbsp;Erling Wu-Bower. Served in a wintery North woods setting, sweater and pants required, ski hat optional but suggested. Admission $250.</p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-02/eat-drink-wild-game-dinner-tiki-charity-and-more-105680