Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Happy Life of the Retired Bourbon Barrel

Posted by on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

  • gustav katz / tastingtable.com
On our visit to Prichard's Distillery, we learned that each aging barrel is only good for aging a single batch of bourbon. They'd make excellent wood chips for barbecue, I thought, angling to buy one.

Other cooks' imaginations have also been captivated by the rich combination of wood and liquor as a flavoring agent.

From Tasting Table comes this chatty map that reveals the destiny of lucky barrels that have done their duty in service to flavoring alcohol. Most cross the Mason-Dixon line, but at least a few end up in the kitchen of Husk restaurant in Charleston, S.C., in the hands of onetime Nashvillian Sean Brock, a man who knows how to coax the astonishing from the unexpected.

At Grant Achatz's cocktail palace The Aviary in Chicago, cocktails are aged in various barrels. (Eater Chicago has a video showing Josh Habiger, now co-chef at Nashville's Catbird Seat, helping taste-test the results with chef Craig Schoettler at The Aviary last fall. Habiger says one elixir tastes like "adult candy.")

See the chart online here for as big an image as you could wish.

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