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Some Information about the Use of Oak Barrels to Age Whiskey

Wine enthusiasts find it very interesting how whiskey barrels made of oak and the whiskey itself play roles in the production process of whiskey. Note that there is a careful monitoring of the quality of the whiskey barrels because the whiskey itself gains character and color from oak which this spirit is placed into.

There are some barrels that were used for spirits like oloroso for its maturation, fino or amontillado sherries, bourbon and oak.

So that there is a continuity of the whiskey and attainment of a certain character of the spirit, the master blender has to make a careful selection of type of whiskey to be used for maturation.

It is interesting to note that only after a minimum of threes years of maturity that the new spirit of scotch whiskey is legally named. Note however that many scotch whiskey are made to mature for longer period of time, like five, fifteen, twenty and twenty five years and some even longer.

It is claimed that the cool, clean air of Scotland that penetrates into the porous oak material of the barrel, and how the interaction between the wood and the spirit that contributes to the smooth and golden character of the creation of the distillery.
It is interesting to know that part of the whiskey in the cask would evaporate yearly and is described as being lost to the heavens, thereby the phrase “angel’s share”.

Many would frequently ask and are curious to know why the wood oak is the most used by whiskey makers in the production of whiskey barrels. The unique physical and chemical nature of oak, its physical strength brought about by its wide radial rays that give strength once formed into a cask, and its purity as a wood with the resin canals that allow strong flavors to reach a mature whiskey, are among the reasons why oak wood is a preference for whiskey barrels.
Not only that, there is a transformation happening to the oak as a result of the heating and seasoning treatments during the process of coopering that leads to the result of a pleasant tasting lactones of oak.

It is said that whiskey barrels made of oak wood have three effects on the whiskey itself.

The number one effect of an oak whiskey barrel is it acts as an additive, meaning the aroma and taste of the spirit are enhanced from the desirable elements present in the wood. Examples of these effective additives are vanillin, oak lactone, toastiness, wood sugars and color.

The second element of oak wood is that it acts as a medium that would remove elements that are not needed to make a new whiskey, such as sulphur compounds and immaturity.

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