From Edible Hudson Valley
"When John Cox, owner/operator of Quercus Cooperage in High Falls, realized that nobody in New York was making oak barrels to meet the demands of the growing Hudson Valley craft beverage industry, he decided to make a career switch.
Drawing from three decades as a cabinet maker and woodworker, Cox spent the next two years teaching himself how to make barrels by painstakingly reverse-engineering the vessels. Making barrels is not for the hobbyist. Cox starts with white oak timber grown in the forests of New York and Pennsylvania. The logs are quarter sawn and left to dry for up to three years. Once fully seasoned, the lumber is milled into curved barrel staves and heads; Cox then fits the barrels together stave by stave, bending them with steam. When that’s done, he girds the barrels with steel hoops that he rolls and rivets by hand. Finally, Cox drills a bunghole, then tests that the barrels are watertight.
Barrels used for whiskey are toasted and charred to the specification of the distiller. This charring caramelizes existing sugars in the wood, which imparts the distinctive flavors of whiskey: leather, vanilla, and butterscotch. Cox offers four levels of toasting and five levels of charring; distillers’ choices vary depending on the flavor profiles they seek in their resulting spirit.
Quercus Cooperage supplies barrels and wooden fermentation tanks to a growing number of businesses throughout the Hudson Valley. One of these, Stoutridge Winery and Distillery in Marlboro, uses over 200 Quercus oak barrels as well as two of Cox’s custom-built, 800-gallon wooden fermentation tanks. In addition, Cox also crafts a line of traditional Japanese wood fermentation vessels that include koji trays and kioke tanks for soy sauce."
—Edible Hudson Valley, Winter 2019
What the Editors Say ...
"Anyone who's anyone in the fermentation world has his or her eye on a Quercus Cooperage kioke tank and koji trays. Just follow #kojibuildscommunity and you'll meet its many fans. Get in line! A cult favorite."