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Maturing Whisky in Caves?

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Maturing Whisky in Caves?

Postby Tommy » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:47 pm

From what I understand, temperature differentials are at least in part responsible for the cask maturing process with the raw whisky soaking in and out of the wood in the oak cask. How important are these temperature differentials and could whisky actually be aged successfully in temperature controlled caves similar to what we see with wine storage? This may be a naive question but I'm perplexed by the variations in temperature differentials in the various whisky / whiskey producing areas across the world.
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Postby Virginia Gentleman » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:13 pm

I don't think this is a good idea. You want to have temperature differences. In the summer the whisky breathes out and in the winter it contracts.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Jun 28, 2006 11:41 am

You could fit a fair bit of whisky in Smoo Cave.
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Postby Di Blasi » Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:48 pm

I don't remember his name, but the guy doing Scotch Whisky, but ageing it in his Burgundy caves, is perhaps interesting to taste then. I haven't, only saw it on the shelves in San Francisco and the area back in March. But highly recommended by the shops staff!
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:22 pm

I would also imagine that the whiskey would mature very slowly as the temp would be fairly constant.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:22 am

So what you guys are actually saying is, get rid of the dunnage warehouses and mature all the stock in racked warehouses as the temp changes are bigger there? :P
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Postby les taylor » Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:28 am

The guy in France is Michael Couvreur.
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:24 pm

It is my understanding that an even temperature is better for maturing whisky and a damp atmosphere is even better. I think it's a great idea, maybe all malt whiskies should be matured in caves. Two weeks ago I was in some slate mines in Cornwall that the navy used as a Rum store during WW2 and it worked for them.

Cheers, Paul
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Not to cast aspersions, but...

Postby Muskrat Portage » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:48 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote:... I was in some slate mines in Cornwall that the navy used as a Rum store during WW2 and it worked for them.Cheers, Paul

Paul:
Not to insult the "Senior Service" but, I used to party with the Navy and found they'd drink anything at all. Of course, so would the Artillery I belonged to, making it a moot point.
As for using caves, I don't think the temperature variations would be sufficient for aging, as temperatures seem to stay pretty much consistent through the seasons. The casks wouldn't "breath" sufficiently, thereby reducing the Angels' Share and it's positive benefits to whisky. (And we don't want to make the Angels testy now do we?)
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:26 am

Hi there,

the barrels need the dynamics of the seasons. The contractions of the wood in winter force the spirit into the wood itself, the expansion in summer releases the volatiles that winter extracted from the wood. A cave could be useful as astorage facility like a cold storage but it is not useful for maturing whisky. You would store whisky in a cool cave if you don ot want to change it much. On the other hand a 20 year old "cave matured" could be something quite interesting.
Come on, Arran Bruichladdich and Glenmorangie.

Greetings
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Postby Tommy » Fri Jun 30, 2006 7:53 pm

Should we consider that whisky aging is different than brandy aging? In this discussion of brandy at http://winebusiness.com/html/MonthlyArt ... taId=13401, it’s mentioned that at RMS Brandy (a subsidiary of Rémy Martin) the barrel house has a “constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 80 to 90 percent. In fact, the distillery's Carneros location at the foot of the Napa Valley was chosen as an ideal spot to naturally maintain these temperature and humidity levels.” Of course in the same article Ansley Coale, a co-founder of Germain-Robin (who also produces a highly respected American whiskey, says that heat fluctuation is good for the brandy with an aging room which ranges from 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. He states that “The temperature changes cause the brandy to expand and contract, resulting in the proper breathing that allows it to age properly."
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Postby PuckJunkie » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:17 pm

Interesting article. I'd say brandy makers are divided as to whether constant temperatures are a benefit or a detriment to the aging process. (By the way, your link is broken because it includes the comma - it redirects to the current front article. Here's a working link.)

The other article that your link sent me to had this interesting tidbit when discussing the recent federal law allowing wine to be shipped across state borders from vineyards and retailers directly to consumers:

Wine Business Monthly wrote:In the long term, the ruling is likely to be cited in a new wave of lawsuits challenging other states' alcohol regulations.

That would be nice. Won't help international shipments, which doesn't help me get the European-only bottlings, but any relaxation in these insane regulations is a good thing for us.

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Postby Tommy » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:28 pm

Thanks for providing a "repaired" link ... I should have doubled checked it in the Preview Mode. But then why are brandy makers divided on the temperature fluctuation issue? This is why I'm confused on the whisky side, it seems that some of the storage facilities and locations where whisky is aged would have only modest variations versus other locations where the temperature differentials would be significantly more extreme. Am I wrong to think that the variations between storage facilities in Scotland versus those in say Kentucky in the US would be significantly different. As I continue to research this I find more and more conflicting information, but I remain intrigued.
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Postby PuckJunkie » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:39 pm

I'm interested as well. I have read that the more extreme temperature fluctuations and the overall warmer conditions in Kentucky are both reasons why bourbon picks up characteristics from the wood quicker than scotch. But I'm not convinced its nearly as decisive a factor as the use of virgin wood in bourbon.

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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:25 pm

Of course there are differences when you change geographical location but it is a recognised in the whisk(e)y world. It's just the Brandy makers (by the sound of it ) don't agree about tempature fluctuations and the effects on maturation.

Scotland has more sever weather than say Ireland eventhough they are quite close. As a result of the continental drift Ireland has very mild weather in general. We may not have great summers but we have very mild winters. Therefore we have a warmer climate than scotland and our whiskey matures more quickly. That is why we don't really have very old whiskey it just does take to well to long time spans in a cask.
Of course there will be exceprions but it appears once over 30years the whiskey is going down hill rapidly.
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