From the Blog

The color of whiskey.

…no doubt, the color of Scotch whisky is the subject of many disputes and discussions. There are several theories, but I suggest to go to practice. So, let’s see. Just need to mention that we are talking only about single malt [single malt] versions of this drink.

A little bit about technology

Original whiskey is whitish and transparent liquid. It’s a strong potion, and in principle, it is also possible to drink. In the future, put whiskey in a barrel, where it acquires color.

In Scotland use different techniques of exposure. The dominant form of barrels strategically just two:
[1] the barrel of the American Bourbon
[2] European barrel from under sherry [sweet wine].

The first is made from American oak and the second European. Interestingly, the second value significantly exceeds the first. Important: in the modern market you can meet other barrels in the whiskey industry: from wine, from the port, and so on, but in this article we propose to discuss only these two basic types.

American barrels

American whiskey barrels make more easy and, in a General sense, a lighter color. At that time, as the European barrels make the color darker and deeper. Accordingly, when you see dark whiskey, ask in what type of barrel the whiskey was aged.

Dark whiskey

There is a misconception that the darker the whisky, the older it is. This is absolutely not true. For example, whiskey five years in sherry barrels can have the same color as whiskey, and fifteen years in barrels of Bourbon. Does this mean that the first of them with something better? The answer is obvious: absolutely not.

Reusable barrels

Then even more interesting. The barrels used many times. As a rule, three times. Sometimes four. One “rule” is, relatively speaking, ten years. In fact, the life of one barrel is 30-40 years.

What do you mean? The barrel is fired from the inside, and it becomes porous, so when you place a drink inside, he quickly turns the color of the barrel. Then barrel and age the whiskey, and whiskey is poured. Then the barrel is cut inside and fired again. And so every ten years. It is obvious that each time the barrel becomes thinner and thinner. So ten years in the new barrel does not compare with ten years in the barrel the old. The Scots make jokes about it, they say, is how to make tea bag four times.

What affects the color of whiskey?

So what we have at the moment? The color is influenced by:
[1] type barrels
[2] age [time exposure],
[3] and at that time it [the barrel] is used.

In fact, the art of whiskey production is the art of correct manipulation of the barrels. No more and no less.

But go a step further. Single malt whiskey is an invention of recent history. This type of whiskey has appeared recently. Not all companies have the ability to issue on the market adult whiskey corny because he has not had time to grow old. What happens in this case?

Tricks manipulations barrels

About the taste of whiskey and how it changes in different barrels, we’ll talk next time. Now we are interested in is the color. Now, the company invented a trick of mixing different batches. Well, for example, are you going to sell whisky aged 17 years. You kept it in barrels of both types, and then mix them. On the other hand, to withstand the first in the same type of barrels, and then in the other. It turns out what is called doublewood whiskey, that is whiskey, which is aged in both barrels.

This is done in order to give the whiskey more color and a more relaxed taste. It is believed that any more or less “bad” batch of whiskey in Bourbon barrels to fix a couple-three years in barrels of sherry. It is clear that from the point of view of marketing sounds more tempting, if you write on the bottle the word double- or triple-. They say, such was the idea. It is possible to significantly raise the price.

European barrels

By the way, here is also interesting. The fact is that by themselves, the barrels of sherry are no better barrels of Bourbon, just… give a parallel with beer. Any “crappy” batch of beer, you can complete harsh hop infusion, and you get a strong IPA [India Pale Ale]. And, in General, people will buy a strong IPA, because such a market. So, sherry barrels are often used as a disguise is not enough of an interesting product.

Rules unfair whiskey

Investment in whisky is not considered to be weeks and months, as in the case of beer, but are they decades. So if you lost a thousand barrels, they should, frankly, be saved.

In this sense, manufacturers can be understood, and the question was not how ethical they are doing. The question is how educated the consumer. A bit more on this topic can be found in the article: rules unfair of whiskey.

Related single malt whisky

…available on the pages of this site: REVIEWS of WHISKEY