Anatomy of a White Oak Bourbon Barrel

Want to get to know where your Bourbon spends its first few years? Take a look at the parts that make up an American White Oak Barrel.

Bung Hole & Plug (Bung) – The bunghole is the traditional opening in a Bourbon barrel, and the “Bungs” are the plugs/stoppers used to seal the Bung Holes in a Bourbon barrel.

Bilge – The “Bulging Center” of the barrel’s shape

Bourbon Barrel Hoops – The rings holding a wooden barrel together and are generally made of galvanized iron, though historically were made from flexible bits of wood called withies. The “head hoop” or “chime hoop” is the hoop nearest the extremes of a barrel, the chime being the beveled edge and the head being the flat circular top or bottom of the barrel. The “bilge hoops” are those nearest the bilge, or bulging center, while the “quarter hoop” is located between the chime and bilge hoops.

Hoop Rivets – Simply put, these hold the hoops of the Bourbon barrel tight and in place

Bourbon Barrel Stave – A White Oak Bourbon barrel stave is a narrow strip of wood that forms part of the sides of a Bourbon barrel. The stave makes the sides of a Bourbon barrel look rugged.

Barrel Stave Joint – The area in between two staves in a Bourbon barrel

Bourbon Barrel Head – This is the front-facing part of the Bourbon barrel, and this is where Bourbon barrels are typically branded and customized

Spigot – With these smaller, customized Bourbon barrels, a spigot is utilized to control the flow of the barrel-aged liquid