Maker's Mark Distillery - Panaramic View of Distillery and Barrel Warehouses

We recently shared the news that Kentucky’s bourbon barrel inventory has reached a new high for the first time in nearly half a century. The last high bourbon barrel mark was made back in 1968. Not only was that a great year for bourbon but let’s pause for a moment and think about all those classic cars that came from that era.

According to warehouse inventories reported as of Jan. 1, 2020, submitted to the Kentucky Department of Revenue for tax purposes from 42 distillers, rectifiers and other companies licensed to store barrels the state is now home to 9,864,197 barrels of bourbon and other spirits. It also marks the second year in a row that Kentucky distillers have filled two million barrels, the first time that’s happened in the modern era.

Related Story 
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Inventory Nears 10 Million – Highest Level Since 1968

Can You Name the Distillery by the Barrel Warehouse?

Just like no two bourbons taste exactly alike no two bourbon warehouses or rickhouses are exactly alike. Below is a virtual tour of sorts that will show you the many types that are scattered about the Commonwealth. See how many you can name.

If you drive around the Kentucky countryside you can see historic barrel warehouses and rickhouses all over the state. You can also hear the sound of hammers, saws and cranes as they feverishly work to build new barrel warehouses to keep up with increased production.

Barrel warehouses or rickhouses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are single story buildings with metal clad siding while others are multi-story brick or stone warehouses. With updated state laws some of these behemoth warehouses can now hold up to 58,800 barrels of bourbon. That’s a lot of whiskey!

Depending on the season you may find the windows opened or closed as distillers try to force their whiskey to travel in and out of the oak staves to draw more flavor from of the wood. This is a critical step in the bourbon maturation process as the barrel is responsible for all of a bourbons color and 50-75% of its flavor.

Some let barrels mature on their side while others stand the barrel upright. There’s no one right way, there are only different ways. 

If you’ve had a chance to visit the distilleries throughout the state you’ll likely recognize many of these iconic warehouses. If not, this will give you a chance to explore what’s out there and plan a future bourbon trail road trip. 

Click on the plus (+) sign to learn more about each distillery.

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If your barrel warehouse is missing, shoot us an email at Info@DistilleryTrail.com along with a photo or three. Cheers!

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