The Craft of a Master Cooper

Welcome to the wonderful world of home barrels.

Whether you are a special occasion sipper or a die-hard slurper, owning a home barrel creates an exciting journey of experimenting, sipping, swishing, spitting, testing and waiting as you handcraft a unique fortified blend to share, enjoy and brag about with great satisfaction. Whether your preference is a bright and lively Muscat, a caramelised Topaque or a fragrant warm-spiced Tawny, with time and practice, anything is possible.

At Stanton & Killeen we pride ourselves on our range, knowledge and service of all things home barrels. We begin by supplying you with a great base material to work with and support you to create your dream fortified blend. An example of our base materials include S&K's Standard, Premium or Deluxe blending fortified. We know that only our best barrels and casks can create our world-class Muscats, Topaques & Tawnys. Some of our barrels predate our winery and, at 150+ years of age, are still going strong and helping to create our classic, grand and rare fortified wines. For customers to replicate the barrel ageing process at home, we have teamed up with Master Cooper, Andrew Young, of the Barossa Valley to create a range of home barrels of the highest quality and craftsmanship.

Working with Andrew Young and his team has been a match made in heaven for us at S&K. As a Master Cooper, Andrew upholds the honour and respect of the traditional coopering trade and techniques and values the handcrafted intentionally, favouring hand tool cooperage. It is not uncommon to find tools in Andrew's cooperage that are date-stamped from the 1900s, all of which are still sharpened on a whetstone and finished on an oilstone. In this current era in Australia as we observe a decline in local manufacturing, Andrew is more determined than ever to retain the skills he was taught during his apprenticeship some decades ago. As with the creation and crafting of Australian fortified wines, coopering is fast becoming a lost trade. Both creations rely on techniques, skills and craftsmanship passed down from one generation to the next.

Hand coopering is all about working with natural elements and perfect timing. While the oak and coopering techniques are two main factors when creating a high-quality home barrel, mathematics also plays a key role. When crafting a home barrel, coopers need to factor in and allow for the moisture content of the oak, the type of oak and how the oak will react when there is liquid inside.

As a young cooper, Andrew spent 34 years working at Penfolds before opening a cooperage at Seppeltsfield in the heart of the Barossa Valley. Andrew is currently the only cooper in the world afforded entry into Chaine de Rotisseurs International Association of Gastronomy, and has personally handcrafted barrels for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White.

An Andrew Young barrel is unique for its craftsmanship and the oak from which the barrel is crafted. Due to his connections, Andrew has access to some of the best secondhand wood available in all of Australia, an essential ingredient to making a brag-worthy home fortified! The older the oak used for a home barrel, the more similar your home fortified blend will be to the real deal.

It's not all hard work and mathematics; Andrew puts the key to the success of his cooperage down to a happy workplace. He believes that having confidence and giving everyone equal opportunities to work on exciting and experimental projects is the way to build a happy team. The camaraderie at Andrew's cooperage is second to none, and while there aren't many bad days, if they do have the occasional one, at least there is always a glass of 100-year-old port or a world-class Muscat to enjoy! That doesn't sound like a bad day at the office, does it?

Stanton & Killeen are currently selling 10L and 20L Original Andrew Young home barrels. Crafted from minimum age 10- year ex-dry red oak, an Andrew Young barrel is the must-have addition to any fortified enthusiast's home.

Our Andrew Young barrels start at $760 AUD depending on size and fortified fill. If you're interested in adding an Andrew Young barrel to your home please visit our website or contact us at the winery on (02) 60 329 457 and our helpful staff can assist with any questions you might have. Alternatively you can always pop in to our cellar door and take your pick from our large selection of home barrels on display.