THE SECOND STAVE
WINE & WHISKY BARREL ART
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Why do I call it 'Second Stave'?
My good friend Tom came up with the name after spending countless hours with me on our initial prototype wine barrel chair, working in the brutal summer heat with chisels and sanders in my garage and alternating between ice water and our favorite craft beer. I think it fits well and really represents the second life that a used wine or whisky barrel can have.
The individual pieces of wood on both types of barrels are called staves, and after their life of being part of a barrel, I separate them out as well as the top, the bottom and the bands. Each piece of the barrel has the ability to be a part of a new piece of art. While the staves retain the strength of hardwood, they have been molded, pressure fitted and finished, the resulting unique curves allowing me to build unique creations.
Wine barrels are made almost exclusively from French White Oak. The reason for this is that Oak, specially White Oak, hits the sweet spot in terms of hardness, pore density, malleability (the ability to change shape) and availability. The most common size for wine barrels is 59 gallons. Have you ever heard of a fine wine having a buttery or warm note? That comes from the wood!
Whisky barrels, at least American Bourbon and Whisky, are made with American White Oak, however that is where the similarities end. The common size of a whisky barrel makes it slightly smaller at 53 gallons, the bands are not made with the same type of metal, and the inside of whisky barrels are charred. You most likely will not find a whisky that has the same buttery mouth-feel.
Whisky barrels don't typically have multiple vintages inside, although a recent surge in 'bourbon-barrel aged' beers have given new life to the whisky barrel . Regardless, because of the much longer barrel times for whisky (three, five and sometimes nine or more years), most whisky barrels are actually older than wine barrels (who typically hold their occupants for 12-48 months).
Wine barrels are often used more than once. A wine barrel can hold a couple of different types of wine, each subsequent occupant picking up subtle notes from the previous tenant. Most wine barrels I work with have ended their 'traditional' lives in the service of red wine, so they have a robust red color deep into the wood.