Notably understood in the production of whiskey and its process showed the importance of the interaction of these important components such as the whiskey barrels made of oak and the whiskey itself. For your information, the new spirit of whiskey gains character and color from the oak wood, that the whiskey barrel is made of, of which the spirit is stored into, thus the quality of the whiskey barrels is carefully monitored.
Past uses of some containers were to mature oloroso, and spirits like fino or amontillado sherries, bourbon and oak.
In the maturation process of the spirit, there is a careful determination of the type of whiskey barrel by the master blender whose aim is to get the particular character and continuity of the whiskey.
Know that only after a minimum of three years of maturation that a new spirit can be termed legally as scotch whiskey. Although in practice, majority of scotch whiskey have longer period of maturity, from five to fifteen, and even twenty to twenty five years, and some even longer.
The scotch whiskey is known for its smooth and golden character, and this goes back to the long period of Scotland’s clean and cool air that goes into the porous oak wood material of the casks that interacts with the spirit content.
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”.
Among the most questions asked in the industry is that why is whiskey barrels made of oak is used by whiskey makers. The immediate reasons are that oak wood has a unique physical and chemical nature, has physical strength because of its wide radial rays that when shaped as barrels would give strength, and it is also considered as pure wood with resin canals that allow strong flavors to pass onto as whiskey is being matured.
Furthermore, the transformation that is happening to the oak due to the season and heating treatments during the process of coopering that would result to a pleasant tasting oak lactones in the course of production of the spirit.
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. Vanillin, oak lactone, toastiness, wood sugars and color are among the additives components of oak.
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.