Ep. 115: John Cox and Quercus Cooperage

The Whiskey Ring Podcast

08-11-2023 • 1 hr 22 mins

Barrels are one of those inventions that change the course of human history. Think I'm overstating it?

Devised by the Celts and proliferated by the Romans, barrels have carried everything from water to fish to oil and whiskey in the last two millennia. They're (ideally) leak-free, can store things for long periods of time, and are easily moved by one person despite weighing hundreds of pounds. Today, we think of barrels almost exclusively in the realm of whiskey and spirits, but a far richer history is behind them.

John Cox, founder and cooper at Quercus Cooperage in New York, learned cooperage the old-fashioned way, taking apart barrels from multiple other cooperages and putting them back together, studying the few texts available, and experimenting with 19th century tools he got from a museum in Canada.

This is truly a from-the-bootstraps story, and a fun one at that. John will also be leading a cooperage demonstration at Kings County Distillery on November 10th. If you can't make that one, follow Quercus Cooperage at the social links below for his next lecture and demonstration.


Before we jump into the interview just a few quick notes:

Ad-free listening is now available to $5/month patrons and above! Sign up or raise your pledge at the link below.

The first three WRP barrel picks are in! The Jack Daniel's Barrel Proof Ryes are SOLD OUT, and the Barrell Rye Finished in Armagnac Casks is now live!

Patreon members get an exclusive discount for the Jack Daniel's barrels and free shipping for the Barrell pick - now's the time to up that subscription or join the Patreon if you haven't already!

Our Spirits of French Lick barrel pick is done! I won't spoil the surprise, only saying it is one of only 9 or 10 barrels ever made of this whiskey (and ours will be the first to come out!)

$25 members get the chance to join me on picks: one of your fellow Patreon members joined me in Lynchburg, one was on the Spirits of French Lick team, and I'll be picking one or more for the KO pick once samples come in!

There are now two more spots open in the Barrel Club and 10 spots open at the $15 level for those who want to experience more of the whiskies I get to try every month (or every other month).

Join the Patreon now for early access to the barrels!

If you haven’t joined the Patreon community yet, please consider doing so! Only 2 Spots Remain in the Barrel Club.

  • The $5 tier has access to the Patreon-only segment called “Under the Influencer”, where some of your favorite YouTubers/Instagrammers/Podcasters and more join me to talk whiskey, life, and influencing. This tier will also have priority access to upcoming barrel picks and shortly will have access to ad-free episodes.
  • The $15 tier takes second access to the $25 tier with 10 spots divided into two: 5 for people who want to receive samples every other month, and 5 for people who want to receive them every month but in smaller numbers.
  • The $25 tier - for people who really want to propel the pod and website forward - will have the same benefits as the $5 tier plus right of first refusal to join me on future barrel picks, access to bottles I'm sent to taste and review, and more. Only 2 spots remain!

You can still support for as little as $1 a month if you’d like to stay up to date with these changes and news about what we’ve got coming up.

Finally, please do like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you’re listening - it really helps the Whiskey Ring Podcast move up the rankings.

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Quercus Cooperage

Thanks to our Lead Sponsor, Black Button Distillery

Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, ImpEx Beverages