What-Is-The-Hole-In-A-Whiskey-Barrel-Called-In-Ottawa-Canada Oak Wood Wine Barrels
May 13, 2024

What Is The Hole In A Whiskey Barrel Called In Ottawa Canada?

Get ready to dive into the world of whiskey barrel terminology! While Ottawa might not be a major hub for barrel-making, understanding the anatomy of those iconic oak vessels is a must for anyone fascinated by their transformation into furniture or simply intrigued by the distilling process.

The ""Bunghole"": Whiskey's Multipurpose Portal

The hole you see in a whiskey barrel has a specific and essential name: the bunghole. Its functions include:

Filling: This is where the freshly distilled whiskey (known as ""new make"" or ""white dog"") enters the barrel for aging.
Sampling: Master distillers use a special tool called a ""valinch"" or ""whiskey thief"" through the bunghole to extract samples and assess how the spirit is maturing.
Emptying: Once the whiskey is ready, the barrel is drained through the bunghole.

The Bung: It's Not Just a Hole!

The bunghole isn't just an empty space. It's sealed with a stopper called a bung. Traditionally, bungs were made of wood, but modern ones might be silicone or other materials for a tighter seal.

Beyond the Basics: Other Whiskey Barrel Terminology

Staves: The individual curved pieces of oak that form the sides of the barrel.
Hoops: The metal bands that hold the staves together and give the barrel its shape.
Head: The flat, circular pieces at the top and bottom of the barrel.
Char: The inside of whiskey barrels are often charred, which adds flavor, color, and helps filter the spirit during aging.

Ottawa Whiskey Enthusiasts: Where to Learn More

While you might not see barrels being made in Ottawa, here's where to deepen your whiskey knowledge (and potentially see barrels up close):

Distillery Tours: Local distilleries often offer tours showcasing their process, including up-close looks at barrels
Whiskey Clubs: Connect with other enthusiasts who may have insights on barrels and where to source them for projects.
Local Woodworkers: Some woodworkers specialize in repurposing barrels and could be a great resource for information.

DIY Project Warning

If you're obtaining a used whiskey barrel, remember it likely held very high-proof alcohol! Use caution when working on it, and ventilate the space well, as residual vapors can be flammable.

Barrel Fact vs. Fiction

It's a common misconception that the size of the bunghole significantly impacts the aging process. The reality is that evaporation (known as the ""angel's share"") happens mainly through the wood itself, not just the bunghole.

Share Your Ottawa Whiskey Discoveries!

If you stumble upon a unique barrel project in Ottawa or have a fascinating distillery experience related to barrels, we want to hear about it! Tag us on social media and use the hashtag #OttawaWhiskeyBarrels.

Interested in shopping for wine barrel furniture? You can browse our full collection of items ranging from coffee tables to home bar and game sets here!