Cooper / noun / make or repair (a cask or barrel). ~New Oxford American Dictionary
Oh, come on now. A Kentucky Cooperage cooper in Lebanon, KY, making a barrel is much more than that.
Let’s try this… .
It’s one of the oldest professions in the world. When the Mayflower sailed to the New World, the art of coopering was an old, established profession. John Alden was cooper of the Mayflower, and was one of the most valuable craftsmen on board.
Kentucky Cooperage, in Lebanon, is a subsidiary of Independent Stave Company, often referred to as ISC. From humble beginnings in the Missouri Ozarks, ISC used innovation, hard work and high quality customer service to become a worldwide leader in today’s coopering industry. Currently, it’s the fourth generation of the Boswell family that continues to grow ISC’s presence throughout the world.
Using responsible, sustainable logging practices, harvested white oak logs are processed in ISC-owned stave mills. That’s where the logs are debarked, cut lengthwise into “bolts,” and then split into four quarter bolt sections that will be processed into rough staves—those long “panels” that compose the body of a barrel.
Skilled craftsmen inspect and make the final cuts on those rough staves, turning them into staves that meet ISC standards, and then they’re stacked for seasoning. You’ll see many stacks of those staves seasoning in the Bluegrass state’s climate when you arrive at Kentucky Cooperage for your tour…which we’ll learn more about in just a moment.