“The Wood Makes the Whisky” says Gordon & MacPhail
I could not agree more. Check out Gordon & MacPhail’s website at www.gordonmacphail.com where since 1895 they have been bottling Whisky from nearly every Scottish distillery. They put all their expertise and experience into knowing all about the wood and ensuring the ideal new make spirit goes into the ideal cask to suit that spirit.
As we know only oak can be used in the maturation of Scotch Whisky, but these oak casks come in many sizes and have held a plethora of different liquids prior to being filled with our Scottish amber nectar or Uisge Beatha (In Latin it is Aqua Vitae).
Whisky gets between 60% and 80% of it’s flavour from the cask. So much flavour and colour comes from what the cask previously held, here are few, and this list is not exhausted.
Bourbon, Sherry, Port, Rum, Red and White wine, Cognac, Brandy, Calvados, Madeira.
Approximatly 90% of all Scotch Whisky is currently being matured in Bourbon casks. Many producers and bottlers are now using “Finishes” whereby a Whisky has been matured in a Bourbon casks for say 9/10 (or more) years then transferred into a Sherry (or other non-bourbon) cask for a short period to give it a bit more complexity and richness to your wee dram.
Gordon & MacPhail have had generations of relationships with American and European suppliers of casks, their wood management programme is of paramount importance in the quality and quantity of fabulous Whiskies they bottle.
After all this and hopefully you will visit Gordon & MacPhail’s website and learn even more about their philosophy on wood and all things Whisky and don’t forget to visit their on-line shop.
I have been lucky enough to receive some samples from G&M and I have a few of their bottling’s in my wee collection, so Nicola and I have enjoyed some exceptional expressions in the late evening in my Whisky Tasting Cabin.
Keeping on the vein of wood, every time you do a Distillery tour the first thing your tour guide tells you is that Whisky is only made from three products – water-barley-yeast and they spend most of the tour talking about the milling, mashing , fermenting and distillation. They don’t seem to emphasise the importance of many other craftsmen, like the coppersmiths that made the unique stills, coopers who rebuild and maintain the casks, the still men, tradesmen that build the large usually Oregon pine wash backs, the Master distiller / blender and of course the Wood Manager who has the awesome responsibility of selecting the best casks from all around the world. So why do the tour guides not give the same amount of time and passion into these sometimes unsung heroes.
Still going on about the cask, a couple of months ago Nicola and I were in the USA and we each purchased a 3 litre cask made of new American oak and lightly charred. Nicola has put some Bourbon in her cask to season in and I have some Pedro Ximenez in mine. Our plan is to visit Speyside in the next month or two and obtain some aged Single Malt Whisky to finish in our two wee casks. Thereafter, we can see the difference it makes to the Whisky coming from two different finishes.