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There are five principal factors that influence whisky distilling. These are: the type of predecessor liquid, the size of the cask, the type of wood, the level of charring, and the reuse of the cask. Distillers the world over create subtle Scotch whisky – or American, Irish, Japanese whiskies – from their individual whisky distilling processes.
Special cask whiskies are those that have undergone bespoke distilling and represent the pinnacle of what the brand can offer in terms of flavour. Magnifying the already rich flavour, special cask Scotch whisky is indicative of the taste of a sophisticated and rounded whisky aficionado.
Diligently matured over prolonged periods, special cask whiskies tend not to have a noticeable tangy metallic taste that novice whisky drinkers distinguish upon taking their first few tentative sips of any whisky brand. Over a period of 5 to 8 years, subtractive maturation occurs whereby the distinct personality and taste comes to the forefront of the whisky.
This increased maturation time allows the whisky to soak up the flavours of the special cask. Newer casks will have fewer flavours embedded in the grain of the wood. Older, or highly active casks, will contain flavours that will heavily influence the maturation process – and when matured for long periods, create an explosion of flavour.