SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In a tiny shop in Scarborough, Ed Lutjens aligns staves in a hoop. It is an early step in barrel making. Historically, a maker of barrels was called a cooper and now that trade is coming back huge thanks to the growth in boutique spirits.
Many spirits, especially whiskey are best when aged in wooden barrels. Ed makes his out of white oak grown in Maine.
"I have a forester out in the Fryeburg-Brownfield area," he told NEWS CENTER.
After aligning the staves, Lutjens pounds hoops of various circumferences into place. These shape the barrel. He heats the wood in a kiln which shapes the wood and begins to make it water or whiskey tight.
"It's cellelar structure does not allow water to migrate laterally through the staves," Lutjens said.
He is figuring out the craft himself. He has visited several coopers to learn, but couldn't find a local cooper who would offer an apprenticeship.
He sells most of his barrels to Maine Craft Distillers which label them smartly and place them near their tasting bar so sippers can see the beauty of the work.
Ed likes playing the roll of cooper. "It's a very iconic image," he chuckles. As for his barrels he says "People like to put their hands on them and check them out."
Lutjens makes his living as a carpenter and smithy.
For more information on his work and art visit: www.edlutjens.com