All about making whisky
The aromatic palette of whisky is the result of complex chemical reactions between the distillate and various components in the wood. Fruity and floral aromas develop after ten to fifteen years of ageing. Young whiskies tend to be closer to the cereals, and reveal delicate aromas of fruit such as pears. After twenty-five years, whatever their region of origin, they begin to reveal refined exotic aromas.
As whisky matures, there is also an evolution in its texture and it gradually becomes smoother as solid particles (sugars and glycerols) are released. It is in the early years of the ageing process that the future whisky acquires its beautiful golden or amber colour. This phenomenon is even more pronounced when the whisky is aged in first-fill bourbon or sherry barrels. In the latter case, the colour varies from golden yellow to coppery red, depending on whether it was aged in fino or oloroso sherry barrels. Whereas bourbon casks that have been used several times will have virtually no effect on the colour of the whiskey; the barrel serves only as a finishing agent.
Responsible for 40% to 80% of a whisky’s final aromatic palette, oak barrels act as a melting pot for all of the elements that contribute to its creation.