In this post, we go over what are casks in homebrew.
What are casks in homebrew?
Single malt whisky is held in warehouses, for example, dunnage warehouses, for a certain duration period. In this period, new make spirit is aged in oak vessels – often known as “casks.” It is so vital to whisky that it is frequently written into the law in the form of a law. For example, American whiskey has to be mature in oak casks made of virgin oak, and scotch must be aged in oak barrels of a specific kind, such as former sherry.
However, while some aspects of maturation in casks are outlined in the book of rules, there are plenty of choices. This includes the size; most casks fall within 200-650 liters.
What are casks made of and used for?
The three most popular casks employed in Scotch maturation reflect the legal requirements and the accessibility of casks.
Barrels barrel could hold between 190 and 220 bottles of whisky (120-140 Liters in pure alcohol). They’re also known as American standard barrels or whiskey barrels. Barrels are a byproduct of the production of bourbon, and it is the case that the American whiskey industry demands that only virgin oak is utilized. Although American distilleries cannot reuse the casks, the Scotch industry isn’t the only one that does but frequently can.
A Hogshead holds between 225-250 whisky liters (142-185 Liters from pure alcohol). Hogsheads can be 20 to 25 percent larger than a barrel. They’re typically made from staves from bourbon barrels, transformed by coopers into the larger size. It is not uncommon for these casks to hold a different liquid, like sherry, before their use in whisky maturation. You might have seen the term “sherry hogshead.”
The butt could hold around 475-500 whisky bottles (302-350 bottles of alcohol pure). It is twice as big as a hogshead and nearly two times as big as the barrel. Sherry is usually matured in butts. Like the scotch industry uses barrels from the Bourbon industry, Scottish distilleries buy butts from sherry bodegas.
The various sizes of casks will result in different amounts of whisky. Another important distinction is the maturation time. A smaller size cask than one that is barrel-shaped means that there’s a higher proportion of spirits to wood, and more space allows the spirit to interact with wood. As a result, the flavors develop faster, and a quick maturation is necessary. In contrast, like a butt, a bigger cask means a lower wood-to-spirit ratio and a more prolonged maturation time.
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