Scottish Oak barrels for Scotch?

Scottish Oak barrels for Scotch?

Did you know that there are only a couple scotches that have actually been aged in Scottish Oak?

Seems like a pretty obvious thing to age your whiskies in locally grown oak. We, thankfully, in the U.S. still have a good supply of American oak (though most good American oak timber is “kept safe” in Nationally preserved forest east of the Mississippi), but it seems the English had a pretty serious naval ship building campaign that made Scottish Oak hard to come by…

There is only one working cooperage in the UK and that is Speyside Cooperage located in located in Craigellachie, Aberlour, Scotland. They use American oak to make their casks…

About 97% of scotch is aged in used bourbon barrels. Because new charred American oak barrels can only be used once, they are dumped after use and broken down. Most of those used staves are loaded onto shipping containers and shipped to Scotland, where they are reassembled into larger, hogshead casks.

Glengoyne was the first to attempt to finish their whisky in Scottish Oak in 2005. Their 15 year old unpeated malt was finished in Scottish oak, and that finish added robust flavors to the whisky. They would’ve liked to relaunch the line, but most high quality wood supplies had gone to the Parliament.

Famous Grouse also made a whisky aged in true Scottish Oak. The idea went back to 1997 when the Famous Grouse considered what would happen to its whisky if it were finished in true Scottish oak. Sustainability was the big limiting factor. They were only able to create a few barrels. That small experiment was enough to create 7,092 bottles of Scottish oak finished whisky. Those bottles sold out on June 23, 2011. Turns out that a Scottish oak finish intensified the cereal, vanilla and orange notes in the Famous Grouse and added a much heavier mouth feel. Sadly, it takes 150 years to grow the trees necessary in creating these casks, so the experiment won’t be recreated anytime soon…

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