Cask Management

There are currently 20 million casks of liquid gold currently maturing in Scottish bonded warehouses. 90% of the precious contents are ageing in ex-bourbon casks, with the other 10% maturing in sherry, port and other wine barrels.

There are currently 20 million casks of liquid gold currently maturing in Scottish bonded warehouses. 90% of the precious contents are ageing in ex-bourbon casks, with the other 10% maturing in sherry, port and other wine barrels.

WHY USE AGED CASKS?

With Scotch whisky, it is important that the cask has had a previous life. This is in stark contrast to Bourbon Whiskey, in which only new, or ‘virgin’ oak casks may be used. However, Scotch is traditionally matured for much longer than bourbon. And a virgin oak cask would overpower many of the more subtle flavours. 90% of Scotch Whisky casks are ex-bourbon casks, where the sweet bourbon whisky has soften the wood. And the Spanish sherry butts are among the most desirable. A proportion of the previous contents of a cask will have been absorbed into the wood. Which would season it with its own unique flavour.

Casks are often re-charred. The inside of the cask is essentially set on fire, leaving a thin layer of charcoal. This is done for the purpose of re-activating the natural sugars, within the wood which gives it a new lease of life.

Once filled with new make spirit, whisky casks must age for a minimum of three years on Scottish soil before they can be called Scotch. Maturation is essentially an extended interaction with the wood of the cask. As temperatures fluctuate the spirit is drawn in and out of the inside surface of the oak. This, the charring, and the previous contents slowly colour and flavour the spirit. By the time the whisky reaches a rich amber colour, it takes on significant flavour and complexity.

CASK STORAGE

All whisky casks must be stored in HMRC regulated bonded warehouses. Some distillers store their own casks on-site, but most of the industry-leading distillers use the same warehouses. Each cask is assigned a number on the date of fill. This remains the same throughout the cask’s lifetime. As part of the storage process, each cask has a unique paper trail known as a delivery order. This also follows the cask through its lifetime.

VISITING & SAMPLING

It’s sometimes possible to visit your maturing cask, and it’s a fantastic experience. However, some warehouses are not set up to allow visitors. They may contain literally hundreds of thousands of casks. If visiting your cask is a priority, we are more than happy to move it to a more suitable location. – It’s fairly straightforward, and we will simply pass on the fee for this.

It’s equally exciting to sample the whisky from your cask. And you can request these through Cask Trade. Due to the intricate nature of extracting maturing whisky from bonded warehouses, and the difficulty of accessing the casks, there is a cost involved. And therefore duty will be charged based on the ABV.

Bottling

Your cask will be safely stored and matured for you. Whenever you want, you can bottle the cask and enjoy your very own single cask release, often consisting of a few hundred bottles.

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