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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "rickhouse"

A(nother) lesson from Louisville...

When I visited Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, we learned how bourbon is made - grains fermented, distilled, then put into charred oak barrels and aged. And I guess I'd never considered how the first parts of that (the fermenting and distilling and barreling) take place in a matter of days, but the vast majority of the time it takes to make bourbon are the years that it sits in the barrel. And many would say, this is the most important part of the process, too.

Which is what makes rickhouses so important...

A rickhouse is the warehouse in which bourbon barrels are stored while the bourbon ages...which seems very boring and passive. But, as we learned, there's a lot that happens that is unseen.

The barrels are stored on their sides on ricks, which are a specialized type of rack system.

These not only allow the barrels to be stacked without putting weight on the lower barrels (resulting in leakage) and for good air circulation around the barrels. Most of these rickhouses are often unheated, and sometimes will have windows open to the elements, which is important to the flavor of the finished product. Apparently, the aroma of a rickhouse - of oak and bourbon - is one of the great experiences of a distillery tour.

Over the seasons of the year, the rising and falling temperatures, heating and cooling the whiskey, allows it to move by diffusion in and out of the wood in the barrel, pulling out the flavors from the charred wood. Even the way the barrels are placed in the space has an effect (and therefore, in a way, the barrels affect each other).

It seems to me, in some ways, the church is a lot like a rickhouse. It is a place we gather that helps our faith mature. In the church's structures - our ministries and worship and programs - allow for the movement of the Spirit of God, circulating around us and among us. And as we experience and move through the seasons of life together, we are transformed within.

It may seem to some that being a part of a church is just a passive showing up on Sundays, or pointless, because it seems like nothing really happens. But (hopefully) we are being changed and becoming the people Christ calls us to be... that we would become what the Apostle Paul called "the aroma of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15).


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