Simply being clever with a hammer and nails does not make you a barrel maker or cooper. In the absence of any machinery,
there were two things that mattered. A strong hand and a keen eye. The cooper had to be capable of selecting the appropriate
materials for producing and repairing barrels. Modern production at Arcus has a preference for white oak from America.
– This type of oak is fantastic, says Arne Larsen, adding - it is durable, flexible and highly workable.
The materials are split and planed before assembly as staves, then dried and bent in an ancient jig. The barrel is then raised
from the metal hoops. The staves are trimmed and grooved and tightened with river reed between the staves where necessary.
Finally, the permanent hooping is hammered into place with a large mallet.
Neither glue nor tacks are used in the barrel; everything is adapted for a perfect fit and tightness. The work is physically
hard and extremely demanding in terms of competence since there is neither machinery nor measuring gauges used. Everything
is done by visual estimate, and the barrel must be completely sealed for it to be fit for use.
Arcus has 8,500 barrels in its system at any given time. All these barrels need maintenance and inspection, so that “the
angels’ share” is not excessive. The 500-litre barrels are constantly on the move. One thousand barrels are on board ships,
on their way across the equator to mature the contents for linie aquavit. It goes without saying that transportation, loading
and unloading cause a lot of wear and tear. The three coopers always have a lot of jobs to do in order to ensure that the
production of aquavit does not seep away, literally speaking.