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Cold weather means extra care for bourbon barrels

DANVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Cold weather creates a challenge for a bourbon makers. When the temperature inside the barrel drops below 40 degrees, the bourbon stops aging. So, distillers spent the winter making sure their product stays warm.

At Wilderness Trace in Danville, winter temperatures aren't a concern. Their barrels are stored in a climate controlled warehouse. Co-Owner Shane Baker say more traditional distillery store their barrels in warehouses that aren't as well insulated.

He says depending on the brand, the bourbon could be aged anywhere from one to 30 years. That time could be wasted if the temperature in the barrel is off.

"The warmer things are, the more energy in the molecules of what you are trying to react. So, the reaction rate is faster," explained Baker. "If you get colder temperatures, that reaction slows."

This winter carried temperatures lower than they've been in 20 years. So, it's crucial for distillers to monitor and heat their barrels this time of the year.

"How it's treated in a barrel really determines the quality of that bourbon," said Baker.

Kentucky produces 95% of the world's supply of bourbon.


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