The Casks Of Kentucky Pt. II

After last week’s look at cask creation, Kenny, Simon and Gordon moved on from Louisville, home of the KFC, Mohammed Ali and the beating heart of the bourbon industry, to the countryside of Kentucky, land of deepest bluegrass and home to the world’s finest horse racing. 

Their next stop was a visit to Buffalo Trace, one of the oldest distilleries in the county and supplier of our used bourbon barrels. With over 200 years of history to boast of, the distillery’s heritage is reflected in their name, derived from the buffalo trails from the days of the early settlers.​

The boys were meeting with Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller, to find out more about their work. With ‘Always Learning’ on our minds, we were keen to discover just what makes the ideal bourbon cask. 

 

As Simon put it...​

“What our spirit derives from the barrel depends a lot on how the barrel is made but just as important is how it is used by the bourbon distiller. The chosen mash bill for the spirit, the type of warehouse it matures in, its position within the warehouse and the period of maturation - all of these play a part”.

The Federal Standards of Identity of Distilled Spirits states that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be aged in new, charred oak. The emphasis on ‘new’ means their casks can only be used once. So, as soon as their delicious contents have been ‘dumped’, the barrels are free to be used by Single Malt Whisky makers like us.

We purchase these beautiful, now empty, barrels from Buffalo Trace and they’re soon shipped across the Atlantic Ocean by our friends at Speyside Cooperage, finally to arrive at our door here in the Isle of Harris. Now in our safe hands, they’ll begin work for a second time, being filled with freshly distilled New Make Spirit, sealed and stored in our warehouse to mature.

    

From the temperature extremes of Kentucky to the elemental climate of the Outer Hebrides, we’re excited to learn just what this wonderful wood will produce for us. For the moment, that remains a mystery as oak and spirit exchange their secrets.

But, as our intrepid team return to our shores themselves, they certainly know a little more about what may lie in store.

Next destination: Spain!

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