Cork nuance

Sylvia Simm | 07. March 2024

Whisky can also have a cork nuance!

We know from wine bottles that a wine can sometimes 'cork'. In contrast to wine, cork taint occurs much less frequently in whisky. For every 3,000 to 5,000 bottles sold, one is returned with cork nuance.

The sensitivity to cork taint varies from connoisseur to connoisseur.

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What is cork nuance?

The cork nuance is a chlorine-containing compound called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA). Cork stoppers are made from the bark of the cork oak. In order to avoid losses and to be able to sell all their cork, the owners of the cork oak forests spray it with chlorophenol-containing fungicides. Bacteria in the trees then digest the chlorophenol and turn it into TCA, which then leaks out of the cork into the bottle. Although the cork bark is thoroughly cleaned during cork production, these degradation products of the bacteria cannot be removed and affect the contents of the bottle. An EU regulation has banned the spraying of cork oaks for some years now, which should solve the problem by itself over the years.

How do you recognise cork nuance?

You can tell when a whisky is corked by its smell and taste. TCA has a very intrusive and strong odour that settles in the nose or brain and affects the olfactory experience of the whisky. To be sure that a whisky is not affected by cork taint, you should always smell the cork first. If you think you smell something on the cork, it may be a normal cork odour. Sometimes the appearance of the cork can also be misleading: if the cork is darker in some places, it does not necessarily smell different. In this case, you should first pour yourself some whisky and smell the glass. It usually turns out that our eyes are playing tricks on us and we can't smell the cork at all. If you've already had a cork taint one evening, it's best to avoid whisky for the day. Try again a day or two later.

If you didn't notice the smell and still drank a corked whisky, you will clearly notice the unpleasant taste in the aftertaste for hours.

Video by Horst Lüning on the subject of cork taint from 2014.

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Sylvia Simm is an experienced employee of After more than 20 years in online sales and service, she supports the company with her extensive whisky knowledge in marketing. As online editor and content manager, she is responsible for editing and updating the texts on the knowledge pages.


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