WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia Great Barrel Company has brought a new industry to Southern West Virginia.
The new White Sulphur Springs company creates 53-gallon barrels primarily for whiskey and on Monday, they celebrated their very first shipment just across the county to Smooth Ambler, a distillery in Maxwelton.
Not only has this brought in a new business, it has also created an inter-connected web of businesses.
The wood used in the barrels at the new company comes from trees in the state and from other nearby states and then goes to the Audrina Mill in Monroe County to be turned into staves.
The West Virginia Great Barrel Company’s general manger Brett Wolfington says they then take the staves and shape them into a barrel
“We then toast it in our infrared toasting system and then we char the barrel,” he said. “The barrel is charred to whatever depth our customers want, and then we start taking some of the temporary hoops that are applied in our process and replace them with permanent hoops that we make here in house. We then apply the heads to the barrel which are also made here and the barrel is tested and then if it passes inspection, we sent it to our customers.”
While their first customer on launch day was local, they also have orders in the works for places in Kentucky and even Scotland, each barrel going out with the state’s initials wrapped around it.
For White Sulphur Springs, an area hit hard by the 2016 floods, Mayor Bruce Bowling says this is huge.
“This is true flood recovery,” Bowling said. “To get people back in their homes, to get businesses back open are great things. This is kind of the icing on the cake. Jobs, what can you say? They’re jobs. Good paying jobs. Good benefits. It’s good stuff.”
Currently, their company has hired around 18 local people where they make the barrels. However, in counting the employees at the factory, the lumber mill and the distillery, the total is around 100.
They also have plans to expand. Right now, the plan is to make 150,000 barrels this year with one shift. In the future, the goal is to expand to multiple shifts and even build more mills.
“I think it shows that you know, the dream of bringing high-tech industry to West Virginia is more than a dream. It’s happening right now. And we’re growing that right here,” Wolfington said.
The stave mill plans to begin doing tours for the public in May.