Like Woody in Toy Story, bourbon barrels are quite busy when we're not 
paying attention. In fact, these vessels are becoming the latest 
commodities of the food world, finding employment in their post-whiskey 
lives as containers for everything from fish sauce to beer. Some barrels 
even end up as pieces in the firebox of a smoker, where their sweet fumes 
imbue all manner of meats and vegetables. (A most honorable death, we 
think.) To see precisely how prolific a barrel can be, we traced the 
castoffs of Heaven's Hill, Tuthilltown, Pappy Van Winkle and Woodford 
Reserve and plotted their afterlife in an illustrated diagram (click here 
to see http://www.tastingtable.com/bourbonbarrels ). An empty barrel from 
Heaven's Hill, for instance, might age maple syrup for a few months at Blis 
http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/national/1576/Vinegar_and_syrup_that_will_revolutionize_your_summer_cooki.htm 
in Michigan before holding cocktails at The Aviary 
http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/ts/3274/Aviary_offers_cocktails_from_a_chefs_perspective.htm 
, Grant Achatz's bar in Chicago. And that's only the beginning: We heard 
many tales of barrels that were sold anonymously and had afterlives at such 
places as Tabasco and cookware innovator PolyScience--the latter just 
released a barrel-chip collection 
http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/the-smoking-gun.php to power its Smoking 
Gun 
http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/national/400/A_chefs_favorite_gadget_gets_a_makeover.htm 
. More frequently, small-quantity barrels are available to the home 
consumer (click here to buy 
http://stores.intuitwebsites.com/TuthilltownSpirits/-strse-140/%22Whiskey-Cured%22-Barrel%2C-7/Detail.bok 
), so it's never been easier to start some aging projects of your own. Be 
creative. When it comes to the second (and third and fourth) purposes of 
barrels, it's like Buzz would say: to infinity and beyond.
   
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Barrel Roll
The secret life of bourbon barrels
 
Tasting Table: Scraps
 
Like Woody in Toy Story, bourbon barrels are quite busy when we're not paying attention.

In fact, these vessels are becoming the latest commodities of the food world, finding employment in their post-whiskey lives as containers for everything from fish sauce to beer.

Some barrels even end up as pieces in the firebox of a smoker, where their sweet fumes imbue all manner of meats and vegetables. (A most honorable death, we think.)

To see precisely how prolific a barrel can be, we traced the castoffs of Heaven's Hill, Tuthilltown, Pappy Van Winkle and Woodford Reserve and plotted their afterlife in an illustrated diagram (click here to see).

An empty barrel from Heaven's Hill, for instance, might age maple syrup for a few months at Blis in Michigan before holding cocktails at The Aviary, Grant Achatz's bar in Chicago. And that's only the beginning: We heard many tales of barrels that were sold anonymously and had afterlives at such places as Tabasco and cookware innovator PolyScience--the latter just released a barrel-chip collection to power its Smoking Gun.

More frequently, small-quantity barrels are available to the home consumer (click here to buy), so it's never been easier to start some aging projects of your own. Be creative. When it comes to the second (and third and fourth) purposes of barrels, it's like Buzz would say: to infinity and beyond.
 
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