Independent Stave Company has begun construction of a research center dedicated to oak innovation and experimentation for the spirits industry. It is being built in Lebanon, Kentucky, as an addition to the company's Kentucky Cooperage campus. Once complete, the new research center will serve as a cutting edge resource on oak maturation for ISC's distillers in Kentucky and around the world. "We are passionate about spirits, including working closely with distillers to foster innovation and develop new products," said Andrew Wiehebrink, ISC director of spirit research and innovation.
The research center will include a laboratory, a library of experiments, a tasting room, and offices for ISC's Kentucky-based research and customer service team. "We don't want to just talk about what is possible," said Jeff LaHue, ISC's director of strategic partnerships. "Instead, we can demonstrate through blind tastings, sensory science and chemical analysis." Since the 1990s, ISC has conducted hundreds of barrel experiments and the company, working with its distillery partners, continues to lay down barrels every year. The company's innovation team has increased the number of experiments in play for the past three years and many of these projects will come of age for evaluation as the research center becomes fully operational.
"Independent Stave Company is committed to continuously improving the quality, consistency and variety of the barrels we offer," said Brad Boswell, ISC president. "This research center is further evidence of how we translate that vision into action to the benefit of our customers." As part of its mission, the research center will also explore how to enhance structural integrity and recovery yields.
"We are looking at all the elements to build a barrel-oak species, wood age, barrel shape and size, how we engineer the barrels, all the materials used-to optimize the barrels we craft," said Wiehebrink, who works directly with ISC's key spirits customers on innovation projects. "We encourage distillers to bring us their ideas and challenges. We know how to transform ideas into reality, with sensory and science-backed results."