the whisky lounge - a journal tracking a whisky maturation project involving a newly-acquired oak cask and a significant amount of patience

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I guess it's maybe a bit weird that I'd conclude the Whisky Works maturation project while listening to Bhangra. Some part of me feels that I should be listening to, I don't know, bagpipes or something to honour the homeland of great whisky. But I'm not exactly what you'd call known for doing things the normal or expected way. So Bhangra it is! I don't think Johnny Kalsi would mind.

So here we are at the end of the Whisky Works maturation project. Don't worry: this isn't the end of experimentation with whisky; I've been having far too much fun to just wrap things up after my first batch. But it is the end of maturing the bottle of Whisky Works whisky that came with the cask.

Which brings us to the title of this post. I had thought of subtitling it "Accursed Angels" but I can't really blame them for it.

For what?

For the 350mL that are no longer in the bottle. I measured the amount of whisky that came out of the cask, and have 400mL exactly. That's a loss of 46.67% from the original 750mL Nearly 8 1.5oz shots.

Now, I'm all for blaming the angels here, but that's not really fair. There are several factors at play which can account for the missing 350mL:

  • the shot of un-matured whisky I kept in the bottle for comparison
  • the several sips each week for the past 8 weeks (this week's samples are not factored in to the above numbers as I haven't tasted it yet)
  • the several more sips in the three weeks I compared it to Oban, Talisker and Longmorn
  • the week (or maybe 2 weeks, I can't really remember) that I decided I'd just drink the sample I poured rather than returning the remains to the cask
  • the dribbles out the hole in the cask that I didn't catch in time when I didn't have the cork in the right way (more on that later)
So, all in all, lots of contributions to the missing millilitres. If I had to estimate, I'd say about half of them were my own damned fault, and the rest went to those thirsty, thirsty angels. I'm not really too concerned or disappointed, though. It's still a strong whisky that will benefit from a splash of water. Most other whiskies I drink neat. So, even after a substantial reduction in volume, by factoring in a bit of water with each drink, I'm still getting plenty of enjoyment out of the bottle.

And it's impossible to ignore the enjoyment I've got out of experimenting. :-)

This post is getting kind of long, and I still haven't got to talking about the whisky itself, so I'll shut up and get to the goods in the next post.

Oh - I said I'd talk about the dribbles. Remember when I wrote about the dryness in the air here which I figured was causing some drying out of the cask which is turn was caused some dribbling? Well, some of that, it turns out, was just carelessness on my part. The rubber cork is not a cylinder: it's round in cross section, but tapered so that it's widest at the end which is inside the cask when it's plugged. However, I noticed that shoving the cork in all the way would allow a little bit of spirit to drip out, especially when it was upside down. This happens, I guess, because the cork is longer than the cask wall is thick. When the cork's in all the way, its widest part is inside the cask rather than shoved right against the wood. I discovered that there was a sweet spot for the bung: push only until you get a whole lot of friction, then stop. It's a difference of a millimetre or less, but it makes a difference. No dribbles!

Anyhow, now I'm going to shut up and actually get to describing the whisky. :-)

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