So the Glengoyne distillery was one of the most informative and most visual that me and the wife have visited on our various whisky trips to Scotland.
This room beautifully demonstrates the wood ageing process that the whiskies undergo and how it imparts the characteristic flavour and colour while also dictating how much volume remains before it makes it way into the bottle.
When the whisky is initially stored in the barrels it is young and clear as gin and vodka (top left of each frame). As it ages it soaks up the qualities of the wood and produces a golden orange and )in the case of the European oak casks originally used to mature sherry) a deep red. The American oaks originally used in the bourbon whiskey trade, they’re much lighter in colour.
The volume also decreases during th ageing as the wood breathes during storage gently evaporating around 2% year on year. Doesn’t sound like much but it means that a 20 year old whisky will lose around 40% of its volume due to this evaporation. So those deeper coloured bottles on the bottom right are 30 year old and when they opened the barrel 60% of it was gone. This boozy escape act is called the Angels’ Share. So that’s why older whisky tends to be darker in colour and costs more.
Every day is a school day but few are this intoxicating. Hats off to the wonderful tour guide Arthur who warmly and infectiously transferred his considerable expertise in such an enjoyable manner. Cheers! 😎