Spirits On Ice loves whiskey that’s aged to perfection. Whether you prefer limited editions that aged 20 years or robust whiskey aged just three years, there isn’t a wrong way to enjoy this classic cocktail. Today’s blog from Spirits On Ice discusses how temperature affects whiskey distilling as it ages.
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Age Isn’t Everything
Whiskey aficionados will tell you that older whiskey is more complex. That’s absolutely true, but age isn’t everything. The type of grain in the whiskey is another factor, along with the composition of the distilling containers (metal or wood). We’re going to look at how temperature affects whiskey as it ages in oak barrels.
Higher Temperature = More Rapid Aging
Just like hotter temperatures make you burn more calories, hotter temps in a whiskey warehouse impact how rapidly the liquor ages. Hotter temperatures allow more of the alcohol to penetrate the wood of the barrels. This makes for more of the angel’s share, and it permeates the batch. Higher humidity levels increase the evaporation further, therefore making the whiskey age even faster. Spirits On Ice prefers older whiskey that has more complex flavors that slowly seep into our favorite beverage.
Consistent Climate Versus Seasonal Swings
Kentucky is the heart of America’s whiskey production. It gets pretty hot in the summer, sometimes in the upper 90s for weeks on end. Meanwhile, winters can dip below 20 degrees at night. These seasonal temperature swings cause oak barrels to expand and contract, which allows for more interaction with the whiskey. You may discover vintages of whiskey from Kentucky change from year to year simply because of how hot or cold it was in previous years. If you ever take a tour of a Kentucky facility, it’s definitely worth it.
Places where the climate doesn’t change as much get more consistent results. That’s true in Scotland, the birthplace of whisky, and in Japan, where whisky is being elevated to an art form. Both Macallan (Speyside, Scotland) and Nikka (Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan) have similar weather and climatological conditions. Temperatures there remain steady year-round thanks to coastal locations and consistent wind patterns. Just imagine the waves crashing against the shoreline below while a steady breeze comes in off the sea foam — all while enjoying a beautiful whisky on the rocks, of course.
Meanwhile, Tawainese whiskey gets to market faster than Scottish competitors thanks to its tropical climate. Jefferson markets a very special kind of whiskey: Ocean Aged at Sea. The company puts casks aboard ships so it sways, rocks, and takes in the salty ocean air for a unique flavor.
Storage in Warehouses
How barrels are stored in warehouses comes into play when it affects the temperature. Well-lit warehouses may generate more heat. Some warehouses have no climate controls whatsoever, while others maintain precise heat and humidity levels for perfect maturation and micromanaging. This is why even American brands have large swings in flavor and complexity.
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Whiskey Ice Balls by the Spirit Ice Vice
Is there a bad whiskey? Nah. Just variants on a traditional theme. Spirits On Ice encourages you to enjoy your favorite whiskey drink responsibly with the quick chill and slow melt of a whiskey ice ball. Contact Spirits On Ice or call (513) 932-1250 for more information on our ice ball machine that makes a perfectly round ice ball in 60 seconds.