In photographing the barrels and cooperage section of Straight Bourbon:Distilling the Industry’s Heritage I chose to follow the path of a bourbon barrel from the beginning through to the end. I wanted to get a sense of barrel making in the true heritage tradition all the way to the barrel empty and tasting. So I started with a historic stave mill in East Bernstadt, KY where the logs are offloaded and cut, aged, dried and planed into staves. I spent a day inside their adjoining cooperage where those staves passed through the hands of dozens of workers on their way to becoming a bourbon barrel. Those barrels can truly be called handcrafted. Then I visited distilleries where the barrels are inspected, branded, filled, and then warehoused. Finally, I visited a new warehouse build, a barrel pour, and then a private barrel selection tasting.