How to make a whiskey barrel – in pictures

Thought a barrel used glue? Nails? Think again. This age-old technique hasn't changed since it was used to age the first whiskeys – take a look

Barrel making

Charred oak barrels are not only a vessel for bourbon while it ages – they're as much of an ingredient as the grains and the limestone-fed water. They give the liquid a lot of its flavour, especially the sweet vanilla and butterscotch notes, and all of its signature golden colour.

With a little help from the Brown-Forman Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky – the oldest cooperage still making barrels today – we've got the inside track on how to make one. Browse the gallery above to see how.

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Click here to see what happened when we sent our associate editor on a tour of bourbon brand Woodford Reserve's distillery in Kentucky.