Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Know the history age etc of your Scotch- Part 2

You don't need to know it all to be able to appreciate a well aged single malt. It's very unlikely that your friends will ever want to discuss the thickness of oak's cellular wall or the exact chemical composition of tannins (unless they are dendrologists or organic chemists of course). For most part a few key facts about maturation will suffice so here's our 'instant expert' guide for you.

1. All Scotch whisky must be matured in oak casks on Scottish soil for a minimum of three years. The Black Dog Scotch Whisky is always matured significantly longer, our best selling product for example is the BD 12 Years Old

2. The age of the whisky, as stated on the bottle, signifies the minimum amount of time the whisky spent in the cask, the time in the bottle doesn't count as no further chemical or organic processes should be occurring in whisky once it's been taken out of the cask . That means there's no point holding on to your whisky, crack it open and share it with friends!

3. During the maturation the spirit acquires flavour, aroma and colour from the wood but also further develops its own natural character – the pores in oak ensure constant supply of oxygen to help the chemical processes along. But older doesn't always mean better, it's all down to personal taste

4. While the whisky becomes more flavoursome over time, it also gets 'smoother' as some of the harsh-tasting compounds are naturally transformed or removed . That's why old whiskies are often described as 'silky'

5. The pores in oak allow the air to enter the casks but they also let a proportion of the spirit to evaporate over time. This is called the angel's share by the distillers and can't exceed 2% of the total volume per year. In Scottish climate alcohol evaporates quicker than water and therefore the distillate becomes weaker over time

6. Almost all Scotch whisky is matured in seasoned casks which previously held something else. Vast majority of casks used to age Black Dog are from America and were previously used to make bourbon. They also fill a small amount of Spanish ex-sherry casks each year. Every now and again we're told that they used to fill casks previously used for salting herring... it's an interesting notion but most definitely a myth!

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