The angels' share

What is the Angels’ Share?

What is the secret behind ‘the angels’ share’? This intriguing term refers to the portion of whisky that evaporates during the maturation process, leaving behind a rich complexity and enhancing its character. 

The Science Behind the Angels’ Share

The angels’ share is a natural occurrence that takes place as whisky ages in wooden casks. During maturation, alcohol molecules gradually escape through the cask’s porous walls, a process known as evaporation. This phenomenon is influenced by several factors, including temperature, humidity, and the type of wood used for the cask. Over time, the evaporation leads to a gradual reduction in the whisky’s volume, resulting in a higher concentration of flavours and aromas.

The Impact on Whisky Maturation

While the loss of whisky due to evaporation may seem like a loss for distillers, it plays a vital role in the whisky-making process. As the alcohol evaporates, it allows interaction between the remaining whisky and the cask, facilitating the extraction of complex flavours from the wood. The angel’s share helps create a harmonious blend of notes, including vanilla, caramel, oak, and spice, that are synonymous with well-matured whiskies.

Historical Significance

The concept of the angels’ share has deep historical roots in whisky-making traditions. In the past, distilleries were often located in remote areas, exposing whisky casks to the whims of nature. The loss of whisky to the angels was seen as a sacrifice to the heavens, a small price to pay for the right to produce the golden nectar.

The angels’ share has captured the imagination of whisky enthusiasts and has become a symbol of craftsmanship, patience, and the passage of time. Whisky aficionados appreciate the romantic notion that the angels are partaking in the aging process, savouring the best of what whisky has to offer. This belief adds a touch of mystery and reverence to the art of whisky-making.

Economic and Practical Considerations

From an economic perspective, the angels’ share presents challenges for distilleries. The evaporation process means that a significant amount of whisky is lost over time, reducing the final yield. This loss, coupled with the time required for maturation, contributes to the higher cost of well-aged whiskies. Nonetheless, the allure and desirability of these aged spirits continue to drive demand.

The angels’ share adds depth, complexity, and character to whisky. It is a natural phenomenon that embodies the artistry and patience required in crafting exceptional whiskies. The loss of whisky to the angels has become an integral part of whisky-making traditions, evoking a sense of reverence and admiration among enthusiasts. 

So, the next time you raise a glass of whisky, remember to raise a toast to the angels and the ethereal contribution they make to this time-honoured craft.

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