Crozehead Cooperage believes that a better whiskey barrel crafts a superior spirit. Owner Loren Buchmeier is one of less than 40 master coopers in the world, offering authentic hand-crafted barrels using traditional tools, adhering to the standards set by the Craft Coopers Guild. Established in 2015, Crozehead Cooperage is one of 26 cooperages in the United States and the only cooperage in Illinois.
Loren & family strive to preserve a heritage craft in a mechanized coopering economy. Responsible coopering leads Loren’s mission of zero-waste production, selling 5, 10, 15, and 53-gallon barrels. What cannot be used as a barrel are used as wood shavings to support the charring process, with every inch of American White Oak being put to use.
The business is located at the Buchmeier family farm at 25964 S Egyptian Trail, Monee, IL. Crozehead offers tours of the cooperage where guests can witness traditional hand coopering demonstrations. This is followed by a whiskey tasting, charcuterie, and light fare sourced from local organic farms. For those who prefer to be more hands-on, guests can sign up for a 2-day bucket-making class and learn to hand-craft their own bucket to bring home.
Crozehead’s first year back on the farm is a busy one. They have built a biergarten which hosts up to 80 guests. Crozehead also plans to add a few additional buildings, including a 976-ft tasting room and a 1000 square-foot distillery to offer white spirits and whiskey.
Follow their journey at https://villageofmonee.org/344/Crozehead-Cooperage. If you’re interested in touring the cooperage or acquiring whiskey barrels, visit their website or contact them below.
25964 S Egyptian Trail, Monee, IL 60449
- Cooper: A maker or repairer of barrels.
- Cooperage: A cooper's business or premises.
- Craft Coopers Guild: An organization founded by Crozehead and others to help establish traditional standards of training, knowledge, and product quality of barrel-making, with the goal being to separate from the standard low-quality barrels overwhelmingly produced by the macro-cooperage industry in the United States. @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
On January 8th, Deputy Director of Illinois Tourism, Daniel Thomas hosted the Statewide Listening Tour at the Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, where Crozehead Cooperage, LLC was inducted into the Illinois Made Program! 🎉 This space provided an opportunity for open conversations on the needs of Monee and neighboring communities in relation to Illinois Tourism. Let's continue to support local businesses and showcase the amazing destinations in our beautiful state. #IllinoisMade #TourismTalks
Read more about Crozehead Cooperage's induction into the Illinois Made Program Here.
Crafting a quality whiskey barrel is a demanding process. Loren begins with seasoning the rough ¼ sawn oak for 2-4 years to wash out tannins, then planning the oak from 5/4 to 1 inch. Next, the cooper joints, hallows, and backs the staves, followed by raising and fire bending the staves to form the barrel. The cooper then toasts and chars the barrel over an open flame. While other cooperages only char their barrels and skip over the toasting process, Crozehead advocates for slow toasting the barrel to build a complex flavor profile. Variations in toast time and temperature, as is in char level, create different flavor profiles. The cooper then cuts the croze, chimes and howls into the barrel ends. They will then build, profile, toast, and insert the heads. To complete the process, the cooper sears a bunghole, cauterizes, and swells their barrel to check for any leaks.