The production of whiskey is considered very interesting and fully understood, and factors like whiskey barrels that create the interaction between the oak and the whiskey play very important roles. Because the new spirit of whiskey would gain its character and color from the wood where it is stored, the quality of the whiskey barrels is then well monitored.
Variety of spirits like oloroso, fino or amontillado sherries, bourbon and oak are matured also in some of these casks.
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. 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.
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 said that a proportion of the whiskey is lost to the heavens and is termed as the “angel’s share”, since it evaporates annually.
Among the most questions asked in the industry is that why is whiskey barrels made of oak is used by whiskey makers. 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.
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.
Know that there are three effects on the spirit that happen when whiskey barrels are produced from oak wood.
The first effect of oak wood is as an additive, meaning there is taste and aroma added to the spirit because of the desirable elements of the barrel. Examples of these effective additives are vanillin, oak lactone, toastiness, wood sugars and color.
The oak properties would act as an agent that eliminates elements that are undesirable in making the new spirit, like sulphur compounds and immaturity.