From Forest to Barrel: The Log Yard


This is the second blog post in a new series , “From Forest to Barrel”. Catch up by reading the first post. Enjoy the journey as we share how our barrels are expertly crafted from start to finish.


From Forest to Barrel: The Log Yard

After logs are harvested in the forest, loggers transport their loads to one of our 11 domestic log yards for purchasing. Independent Stave Company Log Procurement has six main log buying yards located at our company-owned stave mill facilities and five satellite yards.

Company-owned Stave Mills:

  • Morehead Wood Products, Morehead, KY
  • Benton Wood Products, Benton, KY (Coming Fall 2017)
  • Ohio Stave Company, Zanesville, OH
  • Blue River Wood Products, Salem, IN
  • Salem Wood Products, Salem, MO
  • New Florence Wood Products, New Florence, MO

Our Log Procurement team of 32 people works with approximately 3,500 active log suppliers to make the purchasing process as easy and efficient as possible. This team includes 23 log buyers covering 19 states in the Midwest and eastern parts of the United States. We are proud to have cultivated a team of log buyers who have over 225 years of combined log buying experience.

Our goal is to provide superior service to our suppliers by building long lasting relationships that are ethical, consistent and professional while purchasing high quality logs for bourbon staves at competitive prices that support our customers’ needs.Garret Nowell, ISC Log Procurement Manager

Log Buying Standards for ISC Spirit and Bourbon Barrels:

Independent Stave Company has proprietary Log Buying Standards to ensure our Log Buyers consistently purchase only high-quality logs. Log Buyers educate log suppliers on our standards when visiting their facilities. Maximum and minimum cutting lengths and diameters are explained so suppliers know what we are looking for when purchasing logs. Developing good relationships with log suppliers is key as it aides in clear and easy log purchasing transactions.

These standards are not industry-wide, but specific to the high quality bourbon stave and heading pieces that our company-owned stave mills are set-up to craft. ISC’s Log Buying Standards make our log purchasing more consistent. The same log is consistently purchased the same way, regardless of the state it is purchased in or Log Buyer who purchases the log. This consistency gives log suppliers confidence in the quality of logs they can bring to our stave mills.

Log Buyers are audited every two weeks to ensure that they are following the set ISC standards. This system of checks and balances ensures that our log suppliers are paid for the quality wood they bring to us.

Steps to Log Purchasing:

  • Logs are unloaded and placed in a single row.

  • Information is collected from the log supplier and entered into our database using a handheld device.

  • Logs are scaled one by one to determine the board feet in each (using the Doyle Scale Rule). This is done by measuring the length and small diameter of the log.

  • The grade of each log is determined and the log is priced accordingly. Logs are graded on occurrences like knots from tree limbs or other natural defects (which are carved out during production) as well as the size of the log.

  • Logs are tagged with a bar code indicating where they will be placed in our log yard. Inventory is tracked to determine the log’s yield in the stave mill.

  • Finally, the suppliers are paid in full for logs purchased before leaving the log yard.

ISC Log Buyer Testimonial: Chad Cook

Cultivating Relationships with Log Suppliers

Independent Stave Company Log Buyer Chad Cook (far right) explaining the log buying process to a distillery customer tour at Salem Wood Products. Chad has been with ISC Log Procurement since 2002.


“I was born and raised in the small town of Salem, MO. Today, I’m raising my own family here – together with my beautiful wife Kimberly.

The population of Salem is only approx. 5,000 but it is surrounded by the much larger rural area of Dent County. The town is driven off of the mining, timber and farming industries, all of which involve hard work and long hours to be successful. Being raised in this environment has definitely helped me to form positive, lasting relationships with local loggers.

Whether they are from Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, or one of the other 19 states we cover, every log supplier is exposed to all the elements of the climate in the Central States. Regardless of over 100° summer heat (and humidity) to below freezing temperatures in the winter, they work hard to provide for their families.

When loggers drop off loads during those tough days, it’s especially important to take a minute to let them know they’re appreciated. We chat and learn from each other, whether it’s about life, logging, farming, hunting, or fishing. A lot of tall tales are exchanged I’m sure!

Every day, I want loggers to leave our log yard at Salem Wood Products a smile on their face. Being a consistent, fair log buyer with each and every supplier helps them get the most money out of their hard work. That’s how we build such great relationships with our loggers. It’s never a boring day getting to do business with such great people of the logging and saw milling industry.”

– Chad Cook, Independent Stave Company Log Buyer


Stay tuned for the next post in our From Forest to Barrel series – Stave Mill.


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  1. iam in kentucky. not far from new yard. hauled many logs for y’all. Got some white oak on my property. If I take picture could you tell me if they worth it.

  2. I own 200 acres in pangburn Arkansas. Need someone to look at the white oak tember call Robert at 501-617-1226 or 1209 thanks

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