For over 2,000 years barrels have been used to store and transport a diverse array of commodities around the earth. The story of the barrel - from its earliest form, crafted by the Celtic tribes of northern Europe in the first millennium BC, to its contemporary uses - sheds light on the history of human development and technology. Still essential in maturing the world's finest wines, brandies and whiskies, this ancient container survives today despite being under threat from the prevalence of plastics, cardboards and metals. Wood, Whisky and Wine is a unique and enlightening account of the significant, but rarely acknowledged, function of wooden barrels over the past two millennia. Always adapting to the requirements of the day, barrels have changed the face of the global economy and ensured the safe passage of provisions in times of peace and war. Intrinsically linked to the use of wood and ships, the barrel evolved to become a flexible and vital component of the world's shipping industry, transporting not only wine and beer but also everything from crude oil and explosives to nails and Tabasco sauce.This comprehensive and wide-ranging history explores the many uses of the barrel and its relations such as the keg in splendid detail, offering a new way of thinking about one of the most enduring and successful objects of our age, as well as a sobering assessment of its future.
The book will appeal to anyone interested in history, technology and shipping, as well as wine, whisky and beer aficionados.
Henry Work is a cooper who has worked in the vineyards of the Napa Valley and California and the whiskey distilleries of Kentucky. He has written extensively on the subject, including for Vine and Wine Technology magazines. A native of the U.S., he lives in Nelson, New Zealand.