As of July 1, 2023, we mourn the loss of Ben Quady, the visionary behind Badmotivator Barrels. Ben was known throughout the world for his contributions to the distilling community and for the kind, generous, and genuine person that he was.
We are committed to honoring his remarkable legacy with unwavering dedication. Working together, we will continue to honor Ben's vision and craftsmanship, ensuring that his innovative spirit remains alive.
We wholeheartedly embrace the responsibility of carrying forward Ben's pioneering work. The team is committed to upholding his standards of excellence in crafting what will now be known as Badmotivator Legacy Barrels, preserving the quality and innovation that made Ben's creations truly exceptional.
With a deep appreciation for Ben's contributions, we will continue to refine and perfect the art of aging and maturing spirits. We will strive to provide enthusiasts with barrels that embody the essence of Ben's original vision while also exploring new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of our craft, just as he did.
As we forge ahead, we remain inspired by Ben's passion and will work tirelessly to ensure that his legacy lives on. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the world of spirits and to carry the torch that Ben ignited.
In honor of Ben's memory and the remarkable legacy he left behind, we raise our glasses and toast to his enduring spirit.
Ben’s story, as told in his own words:
In 2015 I was looking for the best way to age and mature small amounts of rough and raw young white spirits. The techniques commonly used by home distillers, such as oak spirals, sticks, cubes, chips, and small novelty barrels, seemed to lack functionally important elements of proper long-term aging. Without access to small amounts of oxygen over a long period, extracting oak that may or may not have been weathered properly, and subjected to perhaps more oak contact than is appropriate, spirits did not mature in the way that I wanted. They gained color and oak flavor (with perhaps too much tannin) but lost none of their brash youth. We know what works though: long residence in large oak barrels.
What if you could take a cylindrical plug out of a large oak barrel, wood and spirit together, and wrap that plug in something inert like stainless steel? Wouldn’t the spirit mature properly in such a cylinder? This idea was the genesis.
I bought some oak (of uncertain species, I’m afraid), shaped it into a round barrel head, and pressed it into a stainless steel can. To my great pleasure and excitement, it became water-tight.
The next steps were refinements and corrections to some fatal flaws. First, the wood must be a suitable species, so I acquired American White Oak (Quercus alba). Second, the oak must be quartersawn, to orient the channels in the wood in such directions as to minimize loss through the natural channels (vessels/pores and medullary rays) of the wood. Third, the oak must be weathered for a long time, which reduces and modifies the tannin in the oak so that it will not destroy the flavor. I am skipping much complexity here, of course. Forgive me.
There have been other challenges related to making the barrels as reliable as possible and with as little unnecessary labor as I can. Tooling, jigs, joinery problems, etc. It’s lucky that I enjoy these problems and their solutions, because it would have been easy to give up and move on. The fun of the project is a good motivator. But I am also moved by the knowledge that the system works! The spirits mature beautifully in them! People should have these barrels!
I have gladly tutored anyone who wants to learn how they are made, and learned a great deal from other folks in the process. But of course most people can not or would not like to acquire the woodworking capability required to make their own barrels of this kind.
I feel ready to make Badmotivator Barrels in larger numbers and offer them for sale. I’m just one guy doing this in my spare time, so those numbers won’t ever be very high. I love the work and the cool people I’ve made connections with over the years.
Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.