Many factors impact the final flavour of whisky.
As a result of the distillation process comes a clear liquid known as new make spirit. This must then be matured for a minimum of three years inside a Scottish bonded warehouse to become Scotch Whisky.
(Picture taken @ Tomintoul Distillery)
Throughout the maturation process, wood is a vital element that affects the flavour and colour of the spirit. Oak is the only wood that can be used as its natural structure prevents seepage while allowing the contents to breath. The species of oak, location and age are all important contributions to the taste and colour of the spirit. Oak from America infuses notes of vanilla, honey and citrus fruits while oak from Europe has spicy and rich notes.
The oak casks that house the spirit are their own unique masterpieces of craftsmanship. Today, the traditional process of coopering has become more mechanical yet the manufacturing is still done by hand by skilled coopers. In order to construct a cask the staves must be bent into shape which, traditionally, was done by arranging them around a fire. This chars and toasts the inside of the stave, changing the chemistry of the wood and impacting the depth of flavour - which eventually, of course, impacts the colour and flavour of your whisky.
(Picture taken @ Springbank Distillery)
In the past, consumer demands for whisky dramatically increased which resulted in greater need for casks. The easiest solution was to use casks that had held different liquids such as Sherry and Bourbon. The taste and colour is altered depending on the cask and time of maturation. Sherry casks infuse flavours of spice and dried fruits while bourbon develops flavours of vanilla and caramel sweetness. Double cask is another process that changes the taste of the liquid by maturing the spirit in two separate casks and combining flavours from different cask origins.
Often casks are repaired and reused, but a barrel’s life would typically reach 30 to 40 years.
At Angels' Share Glass we are proud to recycle casks into our product range. Our uniquely crafted oak staves use 'retired' oak cask wood to form stylish holders for our Angels and whisky glassware.