Once the spirit is made it just needs to age in an oak barrel for a few years… except:
This is where things get very interesting indeed. Making good spirit is in fact only the first half of the story. Because such a large part of the character, smell and taste of a mature Malt Whisky comes from the wood it was aged in, what happens after distillation is every bit as crucial. The finest new-make spirit in the world will not make a good whisky if it’s aged in a poor cask, or even just in the wrong cask for that particular spirit.
So, is whisky just all about the wood? No, of course not. Rather it’s an intricate dialogue between the spirit and the oak, in effect a series of complex and gradual chemical reactions that take place over the course of years. This is why getting the spirit into the right wood straight away is vital for keeping it on the right track towards becoming a well-rounded and balanced Single Malt with all the depth and complexity we look for, but also an opportunity to take the same spirit in different directions over the course of the next decade and really exploring the range of the distillery’s output. Variations on a theme if you will. Because of this we have already laid our spirit down in several different types of cask including some specially made to our own specification, checking in regularly to see how it is evolving, which in turn informs what wood we use going forward.
If there is one simple truth about whisky-making, it’s that it’s a complex business. The deeper you look, the more depth you find. But then that’s probably why we love whisky in the first place.