The food world is the midst of barrel-aging hysteria. Creative chefs and artisans are placing things like tea, mustard, maple syrup, bitters and hot sauce in casks — allowing nature to do its thing (for a day to a year), with the final result a little bit of culinary bliss. Of course, barrel aging is nothing new, especially in the world of beer and spirits. With that, we wanted to offer a brief history, with a few twists and turns at the end. Illustration by Mike Houston.