“The Prohibition” 2016 edition – Saxtons River Distillery Rye Barrel Chair


Brattleboro is an eccentric town. I never know what I’ll see or encounter when I drive through it. Bordering the river between NH and VT on the VT side, it’s a mecca for breweries, amazing restaurants, and a thriving art scene.
A brewer from Whetstone Station Brewery & Restaurant recently contacted me to see if I was interested in picking up a Saxtons River Distillery barrel from them that they could no longer use because it had been accidentally dropped and the seal broke. I’m no fool. I cleared my schedule to head over the mountain the next day to retrieve it.
My infatuation with KSR is no secret. Given that I was going to Brattleboro, I loaded the kayak in the back of Taco and took off for the mountain pass, figuring I could get a workout in on Grout pond before the brewery opened and be there before the lunch crowd.
As it normally goes, all of that fresh air and sunshine got to my head and ended up at the brewery at 1pm, two hours after my intended arrival time. Whetstone Station is situated right on the river, sheltering a tiny parking lot right before the bridge to NH in a highly congested area. (When you’ve been in Arlington for awhile, Brattleboro looks like Manhattan…)  I crammed my truck (with the kayak sticking precariously out the back in a compact car spot – the only one left in the lot, justifying to myself that I had a barrel to load and that choice was better than the brewer and I rolling said barrel across the busy road.
The brewer rolled out the barrel to where my truck was parked, and we carefully loaded it next to the kayak. He headed back inside and I jumped on the bed and began the task of securing the barrel and the kayak down for the one and a half hour, bumpy ride back to Arlington.
It was then that I realized I had an audience.
An amped-up white truck with NY plates roared into the lot, blocking me in. The owner rolled down his window.
“Honey, if this is how you roll, I’ll marry to you right here and now. Please tell me that barrel is full. We can put our kayaks in the river right here with the barrel between them and sail off into the sunset.”
I laughed. He had about 20 years on me. I flashed my wedding ring with a wave of the hand and politely asked him to help me back up. Visions of Chris shaking his head with his palm on his forehead flashed through my mind, knowing his reaction all too well when he’d hear me relate my Brattleboro adventure later that day.
Now I have learned that in VT, it’s best for a girl to not drive around with a barrel and a kayak if she wants to have a quiet day to herself.  The kayak/barrel combo drew a lot of commotion, not only in the parking lot, but on the drive back with happy honkers. I like blending in. This was not the recipe to do so.
The embarrassment subsided once I studied the barrel further. It was absolutely beautiful. And it had once contained rye whiskey, my favorite product that Saxtons makes. I hope more of them get dropped so that my inventory will grow.

But I have never, ever made such a mess when building something. The barrel was dry, and the black ash from the char on the barrel that came off of the staves when sanding it down looked like a plague of Biblical proportions.


The construction of this chair is a bit different from “The Prohibition” line from last year. I wanted to make something with the same basic frame, but with a twist to highlight the beauty of this barrel.


Each stave hole is pre-drilled and the screws countersunk.


I really didn’t want to seal it because it smelled so freakin’ good – a rich, woody vanilla. But I’m sure that whomever will eventually own this chair wouldn’t appreciate the black coating rubbing off on their clothes. I sniffed the chair one last time (and for this reason alone, it’s good to work in the privacy of my new outdoor workspace  so the neighbors don’t think I’m totally cray cray) and put a protective coat on it.

The finished set:


Please contact me if you are interested in the table and chair. Otherwise, it will be at the Garlic & Herb Fest Labor Day weekend in Bennington!




About Mel

My name is Mel, and I spend my time living, working and playing on the east coast. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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