Maturing Scotch whisky is kept in oak casks – sometimes dubbed barrels,hogsheads or butts.

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Casks are sourced largely from the US and also Spain, wherein they have actually previously been used to period whiskey and sherry. While Scotch whisky rules enable repeated use of casks for maturation, the law for bourbon is such the they deserve to only use the cask once. This typically ensures a great onward supplyof casks for the Scotch whisky trade.Securing a it is provided of castle is part of the distillers’ challenge, and getting lengthy use out of castle is crucial too.

Most casks come in assorted sizes from about 200 come 650 litres.200 litres (barrel) and 250 (hogshead) room the most common sizes.A hogshead is basically a barrel do from the staves of a bourbon cask with brand-new oak ends. A target is the standard size cask supplied for maturing sherry. As the interaction between wood and spirit is integral to the maturation process, smaller casks tend to tires Scotch whisky quicker. By contrast, huge casks such as butts, puncheons or harbor pipes usually call for a longer maturation process, frequently of 15-20 years or more.

The varieties of casks most frequently used for maturing Scotch whisky space as follows:

Barrel (approx. 190-200 litres | ~120-140 LPA):Also well-known as the ASB (American standard barrel), or bourbon barrel, as result of its function as the principal size that cask supplied in the American bourbon whiskey industry. Barrels supplied for maturing bourbon are compelled by American regulation to it is in made native American white oak which has actually been scorched prior to usage. Together these casks can not be re-used to make bourbon, they regularly experience a 2nd life maturing Scotchwhisky.

Hogshead (approx. 225-250 litres | ~142-175 LPA): after barrels, hogsheads are the second-most common kind of cask supplied in maturing Scotch whisky. Hogsheads room generally additionally made indigenous American white oak, and indeed room often constructed from staves initially taken indigenous bourbon barrels. However, the bigger size that hogsheads makes them better suited because that a slightly longer duration of maturation. Hogsheads offered to mature Scotch whisky may previously have actually held various other beverages and spirits, with sherry hogsheads the most typical of these.

Butt (approx. 475-500 litres | ~302-350 LPA): Butts are the most frequently used kind of cask in the sherry industry, and thus, apart from those having previously organized bourbon, the form of cask most commonly utilised for maturing Scotch whisky. They space traditionally made from Spanish oak, return a significant amount the butts are additionally made from American white oak.


Other casks of note:

Quarter cask (approx. 45-50 litres | ~29-35 LPA): A quarter cask is a quarter of the dimension of the ASB, but with the very same dimensions. As quarter casks have a significantly higher ratio the wood-to-liquid than most standard casks, they often tend to advice the mature process. However, this an approach of maturation can have blended results, and also quarter casks are because of this most effective with much more robust spirits, or when provided to ‘finish’ a whisky.

Barrique (approx. 250-300 litres | ~159-210 LPA): A barrique is a slightly bigger hogshead v the long shape that a butt, which is typical throughout the wine sector (and, with slightly smaller dimensions, in Cognac too). Barriques space usually created from French oak, although part may likewise be made from American white oak. Back barriques to be historically unusual in the maturation of Scotch whisky, recent years have seen raising amount of single malts and also blends experimenting with these casks.

Puncheon (approx. 450-500 litres| ~286-350 LPA): after butts, puncheons are the second-most common kind of casks offered to mature sherry. Dumpier than a butt, these are usually made through Spanish oak staves. Machine puncheons are made from American white oak and generally offered in the rum industry. While machine puncheons space still rarely provided for maturing Scotch, they have actually become much more common in current years.

Port pipe (approx. 550-650 litres | ~350-455 LPA): harbor pipes room the sector standard cask for maturing harbor wine. Harbor pipes are long and comparable in proportion come sherry butts, although their width is close come an ASB. Harbor pipes are normally only provided to ‘finish’ Scotch whiskies for a final few years.

Madeira drum (approx. 600-650 litres | ~381-455 LPA): favor sherry butts and also port pipes, Madeira drums space the industry standard for maturing Madeira wine. However, Madeira drums are significantly squatter than these counterparts, and are constructed from special French oak staves. Madeira drums are fairly uncommon because that maturing Scotch whisky and are usually used come ‘finish’ age stocks.

Casks have the right to be described as ‘firstfill’ or "refill". One American whiskeycask or barrel the is being used to tires Scotch for the very first time is referred to as "first fill". It i do not care a ‘refill’ cask when used for a 2nd or subsequent time.‘Firstfill’ casks are an ext active in the maturation process of Scotch, imparting more powerful flavours come the whisky native the oak and also the previous materials of the barrel. ‘Refill’ barrels, by contrast, are usually less energetic in maturing Scotch, permitting the spirit to conquer the tires process. The worth of the casks in ~ thematuration process can be checked out in the costs for north whisky barrels.

It is the job of a an excellent cooper to keep the casks fine to extend their beneficial life and value, and also to for sure they proceed to tires the whisky come the right high quality standards.

The casks space stacked either 3 high in timeless ‘dunnage’ warehouses or more commonly currently in modern-day palletised warehouses. The crucial is to permit lots of cool, damp, Scottish air to circulate.

All casks room porous, enabling the heart to evaporate i beg your pardon is important for maturation. A small variety of casks may leak, and also lose an ext whisky than they need to in the very first year.In modern-day warehouses leaky casks space usually left where they are, since moving them about to kind out a leaky one costs nearly as much as a cask of freshly made spirit is worth, and also risks damaging others in the process.

Losses from evaporation and leakage quantity to approximately 2% per year, with an extra 3% shed on pour it until it is full as heart is soaked up by the wood. This is well-known as ‘in-drink’.

Good casks, fine cared for, can last for as much as 50 year or longer.

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Whisky barrel capacities

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