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. 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.
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.
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. Most scotch whiskey though are matured very much longer in practice, and this could run from five to fifteen, twenty, twenty five and even longer number of years.
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 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. Among the reasons why oak is a preference among the woods for whiskey barrels are that of its unique physical and chemical nature, of which its physical strength due to the radial rays that support and give strength when the material is formed into a cask, plus it contains resin canals that strong flavors are allowed to pass to maturing spirit and thus is considered as pure wood compared to other woods.
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.
In using oak wood for whiskey barrels, it is claimed that three effects are impacted on the whiskey.
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. Among these additives elements of woods are vanillin, oak lactone, toastiness, wood sugars and colors.
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.