Barrel stave mill under construction in Bath County

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MILLBORO, Va. (WDBJ7) “That whole area will be a log yard, where we’ll actually store the logs before we start processing them,” says Jim McCoy, Mill Manager of the Speyside Bourbon Stave Mill, pointing out a broad swath of the construction site where the mill is being built.

He can see the entire operation in his head, though he does have the blueprints to help.

“We’ll bring the logs in and lay them on the log deck," McCoy says. "Then they’ll go through the merchandising saw, and they’ll be debarked …”

A multi-step, if relatively simple, process to make one of these: a stave.

“This is the raw piece of wood that leaves here. And once it goes to Jackson, Ohio, it goes through the steps there," he says, holding the 37-inch board. "This is a finished stave, if you will.”

A piece of white oak that will be bent and assembled to become a bourbon barrel.

Even in its early stages, the building is huge: 20,000 square feet of machinery will be working the wood under this roof, run by 30 new employees.

“Hopefully, if we get enough wood product and enough people that we maybe employ up to 45 if we get lucky," according to McCoy. "But that’s yet to be seen yet.”

And when you include the ground for storing the incoming logs and the outgoing staves, the complex covers around 24 acres.

McCoy says, “Right now we’re on schedule to start sawing May First.”

But that first stave, well that’s going nowhere.

“Of course, the first one will stay here," he says. "The first stave off the line will stay here in Virginia. It’ll be hanging on the wall.”

A small trophy to mark a new business’ start.