Independent Stave Company (ISC), the principal U.S. manufacturer of whiskey barrels, announced today that it will build a new American oak stave mill on 48 acres near Benton, Kentucky (Marshall County). This will be the company's seventh stave mill, its sixth in the U.S. (The other one is in France.)
American Stave Company, a division of ISC, will build and operate the state-of-the-art mill. The company's other U.S. mills are in Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. In September 2015, American Stave opened its first Kentucky mill in Rowan County.
Once operational, the new facility will create approximately 40 new jobs in the Marshall County community.
“Our strategic plan has been simple – continue investing to best support our customers and the growth in the wine and spirits industry,” confirmed Brad Boswell, president and fourth-generation cooper. “This new stave mill will be an important addition, allowing us to further augment our supply of high-quality American white oak. It is also the final step as we position ourselves for a major expansion to our barrel-making operations.”
Marshall County is known to be an excellent area for sourcing cooperage-quality white oak. American Stave Company has been purchasing logs in this area for years, making it a top contender during site selection.
Once complete, the new mill will supply staves and heading material to the parent company’s cooperages in Lebanon, Kentucky and Lebanon, Missouri.
“As we continue building for today and tomorrow, we are honoring our heritage, and most importantly, our customers,” confirmed Boswell. “Our company has been supplying the wine and spirits industry since our inception in 1912, first as a domestic supplier of staves, and today as a cooperage company crafting a wide range of barrels and oak products. We remain committed to any investments that benefit our customers and support the industry as a whole.”
Typically, stave mills are located close to the resource, America's robust forests of white oak trees. The forests are well-managed and sustainable. Buyers from the mills purchase suitable trees from area landowners. The landowners hire loggers to cut the trees and deliver them to the mill, where the lumber is allowed to air dry naturally until it is dry enough to cut. The wood is then roughly cut into staves as well as pieces for the barrel heads. Then it is shipped to the cooperage, where it is air seasoned for another six months or more. In the cooperage, the rough pieces are planed, shaped, and formed into barrels.
Marshall County is in far Western Kentucky, close to two huge man-made lakes popular for boating and fishing; Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The lakes are parallel and the landmass between them is a national park creatively known as the Land Between the Lakes. The region is also famous for producing some of the world's best ham, sausage, and bacon.