HOW CROZE NEST COOPERAGE TOOK OFF WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN /// PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED BY CROZE NEST
’m sitting across the table from cooper Joe Smith. As we’re discussing his decision to leave a promising career as a marketing manager at a software company to produce whiskey barrels, I realize that he’s a man who doesn’t need much. I’ve heard these kinds of individuals described as “salt of the earth,” and in this case that rings true. Smith is Michigan born-and-bred, a native of the Lower Peninsula, which apparently qualifies him as a “troll” since he lives below the Mackinac bridge. He’s married, has two young children, and lives a couple of doors down from the house that he grew up in, which sits on the same property that is now home to the workshop where he runs Croze Nest. Coopering, as its called, is not a very common profession. To give you an idea, the Associated Cooperage Industries of America (ACIA) lists 49 members on its website that are active in the domestic cooperage industry. Comparatively, recent research has the number of operating American craft distilleries nearing 1,800. Coopering barrels is a complex combination of engineering, math, and hard labor. Making a barrel that will successfully retain liquid for many years, held together with nothing more than metal hoops and geometry, is not a skill you’re likely to pick up in a college elective course. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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