I was on Forged in Fire in 2018, and we used whiskey barrel throughout our episode. We made the blades from the barrel bands, and the handles from barrel wood. Our tests included chopping on a barrel ring. I still shudder a little every time I see a barrel, thinking of J Neilson trying to kill my knife!
Gil Hibben was the president of the Knifemakers' Guild back when I joined in 2013. I was intimidated at the time, and excited to get his "autograph" on my Guild certificate. Since then I've kind of kept up with him through his wife Linda via Facebook. We talk from time to time about Guild business.
I like to use stuff with cool stories in my knife work, so on a whim, I messaged every knifemaker I knew in Kentucky about getting some bourbon barrel. I don't want any old barrel, I wanted one with a story. Well, Mrs. Hibben came through. Turns out that Gil has a monthly bourbon club that meets at his house for the last 20 years, including several folks in the bourbon industry. One time the club went in together and spent 7,900 on a full barrel of Four Roses, I think she said roughly 250 bottles' worth.
Yesterday in the mail, I received from Mrs. Hibben a package containing the marked top of a Four Roses barrel. This is not THE barrel from the story, which is still intact and in Gil's shop, but one of his club guys got it for Mrs. Hibben for me. Along with the super cool origin story, a couple of the pieces of wood have good figure as well. Current plan is to share some with my FIF episode brothers, and to use the stamped logo part as the stand for a Bowie. Rob from my episode gave us all some W2, and I have Mike's broken first attempt at a Quinlong Ji. I'll find a way to incorporate those materials.
So there you go. Sometimes all you have to do is ask, and have a generous friend.