Whisky by Flavour - Wood - Spice
Unlike other spirits whisky and especially Scotch whisky has specific legal requirements for its maturation process before it can legally be sold as whisky. Since regulation came in 1915 Scotch whisky has been required to mature for a minimum of 3 years, this maturation is done in oak casks.
Spice from an oak cask can be due to different aspects of the oak chosen and used, firstly, the species of oak will play a part, an American Oak cask has a greater level of vanillin but less tannin which is the opposite of European Oak. European Oak’s higher tannin structure will produce a drying sensation and carry more exotic spice from the oak in its richer flavour profile. The preparation of the staves used to make the cask is also vital as air drying will alter lactone, vanillin and tannin levels in the oak. After air drying a cask is seasoned and the heat treatment used will also affect which chemical reactions influence the whisky the most, for example when using an American oak cask the oak lactones found where the charr has split the oak will provide spiced notes such as black pepper.
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