2020 Best Barrels/Cooperage: Independent Stave Company (ISC) Brad Boswell

Working with Independent Stave Company means beginning with the end in mind. When you consider what you desire regarding texture, flavor, and aroma, the company’s oak specialists will use their vast library of knowledge and resources (it has 12 brands—each with its own specialty, from barrels to finishing products) to make your dream a reality.

Brad Boswell, CEO, is fourth-generation of the family-owned, Missouri-based business, which was started in 1912 by his great-grandfather, who owned 5,000 acres of forest in Southern Missouri. “We own timberland that we sustainably harvest, and source from independent loggers and landowners,” says Boswell. “Our company goes entirely from forest to barrels, and all wood sources are kept separate while being processed.”

Boswell says client relationships are most important to him. “Once we understand their product, we can see if we have a barrel that fits, or we can create one that’s exclusive to that particular winery or distiller. We developed technology to fine-tune toasting and charring to create unique recipes.

“On the wine side, we’re focused on texture and the balance between oak and fruit,” Boswell adds. “On the spirits side, things can be more exploratory. We work with distillers on new mash bills to pair barrel styles, discussing desired outcomes from the beginning so we can take a longer-term view, which is lots of fun. Our goal is to intimately understand expectations so we can provide barrels to meet them.” This includes wood species, seasoning, and toasting or char to hit and control specific textures and aromas.