To keep the Bourbon Heritage Month celebration rolling, here is a bit of Bourbon Trivia: The system of barrel ricking that is used in whiskey warehouses to this very day was patented right here in Louisville, Ky., by one Fredrick Stitzel in 1879.
“Prior to the Stitzel patent, barrels were stored by stacking multiple layers of barrels similar to what they do in Scotland – a row of barrels, some rails, another row of barrels and so on,” said bourbon historian Mike Veach of the Filson Historical Society. “This does not allow for air circulation. That works fine in Scotland, but when you get into Kentucky’s heat and humidity, you get a lot of mold and muck and things growing that you don’t want in your whiskey. It also puts a lot of pressure on the barrels, increasing the chance for leaks.”
In Stitzel’s design, posts and beams of oak support each row of barrels. The Filson has the model that Stitzel submitted to win the patent in its museum collection.
(Photo: Warehouse at Woodford Reserve, Versailles, Ky.)