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How Does Weather Affect Whiskey?

How Does Weather Affect Whiskey?

Have you ever wondered how the weather affects your whiskey tastes? Before pouring your favorite whiskey into your custom whiskey glasses, consider how the climates of Tennessee and Scotland differ. What about whiskey from Arizona or India? If you are looking for certain factors in your whiskeys, such as a sweeter whiskey or higher proof, it can help to understand how the aging climates and the weather affect the final whiskeys.


How Climate Matters

Consider that Glasgow, Scotland, has a moderate range of temperatures. Compared to the United States, Glasgow has far fewer temperature swings and high humidity. Areas like Tennessee and India see much higher temperatures. Scotch in Glasgow, put in used barrels, can age much longer than in hotter climates. It’s not dissimilar to roasting meat low and slow instead of intense heat on the barbecue. Higher temperatures create a stronger reaction between the whiskey and the wood.


Warmer Climates Mean Sweeter Whiskey

In general, whiskies in a warmer climate during fermentation produce fruitier and more floral flavor profiles, making an overall sweeter whiskey. However, the temperature change between a distillery’s floors can also be a factor. This difference can be seen more in distilleries in areas such as Texas, while Scottish warehouses have less pronounced changes. Knowing where a whiskey is made can help you decide what to pour into your personalized whiskey decanter, as it can give you clues to the final proof and what kind of flavors you’ll find.


The Angel’s Share and Different Proofs

A major difference between the climates that’s easy to observe is what distillers refer to as the angel’s share. This refers to the volume of whiskey lost due to evaporation during aging. Climate can determine how much is lost. In hotter areas, such as Texas and Kentucky, the water evaporates more readily, increasing the alcohol content because the water and alcohol evaporate at different rates. Temperature also changes how long a whiskey needs to be aged, with whiskies aged in hotter temperatures maturing far faster than in cool, humid areas. Whiskies in hot areas increase in proof, while whiskies in colder areas decrease.


Oak Ages More Aggressively

Whiskies maturing in hot summer climates interact more aggressively with oak barrels. This interaction also helps the whiskey age quickly, producing matured whiskey far faster than in other environments. The change in temperature and barometric pressure forces the whiskey in and out of the oak, helping it extract vanillins, tannins, wood sugars, and other aromas and flavor compounds from the oak barrel. The oak can lend character to the whiskey very quickly in Texas, which sees temperature swings in a single day of more than 40 degrees. A cask in India might take about six years to mature, while the same whiskey in Scotland could take over a decade. As noted, however, this also means a much higher angel’s share in the hot climates, making it a trade-off. American oak barrels also tend to be denser, maturing slower than the looser European oak casks that impart more tannins.


About Crystal Imagery

In 2001, Eric Schuchart decided to take up a hobby. His project was making personalized engraved glasses for his friends and family. They loved these glasses. In 2013, Crystal Imagery went from a hobby to a full-time job as Sherri Blum, noted interior designer to celebrities, joined Eric in his endeavor. Crystal Imagery uses two techniques for etching: a deep engraving technique that produces a depth and shadow that traditional rotary surface etching methods just can’t match and a UV laser that offers crisp, precise etching that cuts the surface, unlike CO2 lasers. Crystal Imagery offers personalized whiskey glasses, decanters, customized beer glasses, crystal ice buckets, flasks, and a variety of other glassware options.


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