Whiskey Barrel Plant to Be Built in Flood-Ravaged Community

By JOHN RABY, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A new company that makes whiskey barrels out of white oak wood has been born from efforts to rebuild a devastated West Virginia community following deadly floods.

Officials announced at a news conference Thursday that the West Virginia Great Barrel Co. would be located in a 90,000-square-foot facility in Caldwell near White Sulphur Springs and bring 113 manufacturing jobs to Greenbrier County, along with 25 sawmill jobs.

Company spokesman Tom Crabtree, an architect and White Sulphur Springs resident, said groundbreaking on the facility will be in early 2018 and the first barrel will be produced in the first quarter of 2019.

Federal regulations require bourbon to be aged in a new, charred white oak barrel. Crabtree said the whiskey, bourbon and rye industry currently puts out 2 million barrels of product each year and is growing at an annual pace of 7 percent. He said that will mean a shortage of 600,000 barrels by 2019.

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Josh Baldwin