Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels

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Reaktion Books, Sep 15, 2014 - Cooking - 224 pages
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Barrels—we rarely acknowledge their importance, but without them we would be missing out on some of the world’s finest beverages—most notably whiskies and wines—and of course for over two thousand years they’ve been used to store, transport, and age an incredibly diverse array of provisions around the globe. In this comprehensive and wide-ranging book, Henry Work tells the intriguing story of the significant and ever-evolving role wooden barrels have played during the last two millennia, revealing how the history of the barrel parallels that of technology at large.

Exploring how barrels adapted to the requirements of the world’s changing economy, Work journeys back to the barrel’s initial development, describing how the Celtic tribes of Northern Europe first crafted them in the first millennia BCE. He shows how barrels became intrinsically linked to the use of wood and ships and grew into a vital and flexible component of the shipping industry, used to transport not only wine and beer, but also nails, explosives, and even Tabasco sauce. Going beyond the shipping of goods, Work discusses the many uses of this cylindrical container and its relations—including its smaller cousin, the keg—and examines the process of aging different types of alcohol. He also looks at how barrels have survived under threat from today’s plastics, cardboards, and metals.

Offering a new way of thinking about one of the most enduring and successful products in history, Wood, Whiskey and Wine will be a must-read for everyone from technology buffs to beverage aficionados who wish to better understand that evasive depth of flavor.

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From Buckets to Barrels
A Nexus of Skills and Technology
Employing the Barrels for Trade
A Surge in Barrel
Wooden Barrels and Wooden Boats
From Guilds to Cooperages
Wood for Barrels
Crafting Wooden Barrels 10 Wine Barrels and Oak Ageing 11 Craftsmen The Coopers 12 Other Barrels Spirits Fortified Wines and Beer
Oak Alternatives and Barrel Shaving 14 Cooperage The Bigger Picture

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About the author (2014)

Henry Work is an experienced cooper who has worked in the vineyards of California and the whiskey distilleries of Kentucky. He lives in New Zealand.

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