The colour that whisky gets from casks

  • bedlamborn
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    Member bedlamborn
    Joined: 18.09.2016Posts: 611Collectionbedlamborns CollectionRatings: 21
    I was listening to a discussion on youtube about what kind of colour that a cask gives to a whisky. One of the things that were said was that all the colour that comes from a cask comes during the first six months of maturation. Is this true or can someone give me more information about this?
  • [Deleted User] Joined: 26.08.2016Posts: 0CollectionEmpty Bottle ClubRatings: 160
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    @bedlamborn


    A virgin cask will impart a large amount of color in a short time. I have seen many dark-colored "craft" whiskeys that are less than a year old (admittedly, small barrels play a part also). Beyond that initial rush of color, though, a cask will steadily contribute color to a whiskey throughout its maturation. That, of course, assumes that the cask still has some color to give throughout the entire maturation period, and this, in turn, depends on the number of previous fills (and the vagueries of an individual cask). 

    Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets. (Ron Swanson)
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  • horst_s Administrator horst_s Joined: 01.07.2014Posts: 507Ratings: 702
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    @bedlamborn

    Well ... there are two colors coming from the casks. First the color from the liquid, which rested in the cask before. In the case of Sherry it depends on its type (oxidized PX will be darker than non oxidized Fino). The second color comes from the caramelized wood sugar. And caramel is quite brown. This will give color to the whisky over decades. In the beginning a lot more than in the end.


    If you look carefully at uncolored whiskies from Hogsheads (refill, rebuilt casks) then you can still see the residual color in the casks left over from the first maturation.

    Kind regards, Horst Luening, Master Taster, Whisky.com
  • hwchoy Member hwchoy Joined: 28.07.2015Posts: 462CollectionHeng Wah’s CollectionRatings: 3
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    @horst_s


    how different is this caramelised wood sugar vs the caramel colouring that is being added for coloration, chemically speaking?

  • bedlamborn
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    @horst_s @horst_s

    Thanks for your replies.

  • horst_s Administrator horst_s Joined: 01.07.2014Posts: 507Ratings: 702
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    hwchoy said:

    @horst_s


    how different is this caramelised wood sugar vs the caramel colouring that is being added for coloration, chemically speaking?

    If you caramelize the wood sugars by heating the inside of the cask the resulting caramel is very similar to spirit caramel. But in the cask you get a lot more of other compounds because the cask does not consist out of cellulose alone. 


    Kind regards, Horst Luening, Master Taster, Whisky.com
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