Casks that are used to mature whisky come in all kinds of sizes – you’ve got 500 litre sherry butts and port pipes, 320 litre puncheons, 250 litre hogsheads, 195 litre bourbon barrels and 80 litre quarter casks, among others. Whisky is usually aged in large casks, and used bourbon barrels are very popular.
Fill a small barrel with whisky, and there is a greater ratio of wood to whisky than there would be in larger barrels. The more maturing whisky touches the wood surface of oak barrels, the more quickly it can react with the wood and extract its flavours.
Laphroaig Quarter Cask, as the name obviously suggests, is made from whisky that has spent some time aging in quarter casks (after being transferred from standard ex-bourbon barrels). According to Laphroaig, using the smaller casks creates a ‘soft and velvety edge’ in the whisky.
Used correctly, quarter casks can help create great whisky. Laphroaig Quarter Cask is proof of that!
But, can a cask or barrel be too small to age whisky and just make whisky taste “woody” rather than “mature”? Continue reading “Let’s talk about using SMALL BARRELS to age whisky: Does size matter?”