Wild Turkey has employed a UHF RFID system to monitor the aging process of its liquor at three storage locations, while eliminating the time and potential errors related to manually counting its 650,000 barrels.
Jun 11, 2019—
Bourbon distillation is a time-honored process that hasn’t changed much at Kentucky distillery Wild Turkey. Since the family-run company opened 101 years ago, its bourbon has aged in charred oak barrels, drawing flavor from the barrels over the course of a decade or more, before being distributed into bottles that are then sold to consumers at stores across the world.
But RFID technology has provided a modern tool for tracking the identity and status of each barrel. The company began testing UHF RFID technology in 2012 and has since deployed the system across all barrels at its three storage locations. The system, built by Wild Turkey, consists of handheld RFID readers, UHF RFID tags on barrels, and the company’s own software to capture and manage data regarding when each barrel was filled.
Bourbon whiskey is a barrel-aged spirit, typically made from corn. It’s most commonly produced in Kentucky and neighboring states and was historically introduced to the area by Scots and Scots-Irish immigrants. Wild Turkey says four components make its brand of bourbon unique: its color (created by lengthy aging in barrels, it has a deep char hue), its aroma of vanilla and oak, its unique taste and its full-bodied finish. These components result, in part, from the aging process in its barrels.