AHHhhhh finally getting round to another blog. I’ve taken my first week off of the year… yayyyy! The reason i’m getting the time to post! 🙂
I recently visited Jerez, in Spain, a work trip to learn all about the craft behind the Macallan sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. It really was a fantastic trip! The attention to detail and dedication throughout the whole process is outstanding!! Made me realise just how special the Macallan whisky is…
Wood is very important in the Macallan world- especially since 80% of the Macallan flavour comes from the casks. The quality of The Macallan whisky depends on the quality of the oak casks it is matured in, (alongside the quality of the new make spirit). The Macallan spends more per cask then any other distillery – which includes sourcing, the crafting, seasoning and care.
What is so special about European and American oak? (warning… snippet of geek chat)
European oak– has a tighter grain and more of a porous structure. European oak grows at a slower pace compared to American oak, resulting in a high level of tannins.
European oak delivers- dried fruit, spice, and chocolate flavors.
American oak- faster growing and more dense than European oak.
American oak delivers- vanilla and fruity characteristics.
The cask journey – what happens?
Rather than bombard you with too much detail… let me sum it up in 6 points…
- Wood is sent to the cooperages in Jerez- from US (Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri) and Northern Spain
- Drying the wood- reduces moisture content of the oak
- The unformed oak casks are sprayed with water, so they become flexible enough to be formed and shaped into casks.
- The casks are then toasted by fire. this is the beginning of the maturation of casks… in terms of flavour (different levels of heat treatment can change the balance of flavours)
- The casks are then taken to the nearby sherry bodegas, where they are filled with dry oloroso sherry and left to rest and season for at least 2 years.
- Once complete- the casks are transported to The Macallan home in Speyside, filled with The Macallan’s spirit and left in a gentle slumber for many years before presented as a whisky.
So there you have it…
… 100 years since an acorn fell, 2 years drying, 2 years seasoning with olroso sherry and at least 12 years in a gentle slumber at the distillery – meticulous detail every step of the way, The Macallan follows a truly spectacular journey to deliver the whisky you are holding in your glass today.
Stuart Macpherson, Master of Wood –bottom left in image– The Macallan’s Mr Cool.. (v good guy) is responsible for overseeing every stage of the Macallan cask production, the sourcing, the building process and managing the cask suppliers.
Stuart and David Miles (from Mixxit) will be delivering a masterclass, exploring the craft of whisky making at The London Whisky Show this Saturday 30th September. Stuart will explain the impact wood has on whisky and David will let you know how you can identify aromas and flavours in Macallan whisky, as a result of the character from the wood.
The Whisky Show London- http://www.whiskyshow.com/london/
Good news for you!! You have a free ticket to get involved!
After the masterclass, we will be running a Facebook Live with both Stuart and David at 4.30pm.
Have a question for our Master of Wood??
Saturday 4.30pm- Come join us in the comfort of your own home:
Grab a glass of whisky and join the conversation: www.facebook.com/themacallan