Whiskey: Bottling and Maturation Methods Defined

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Whiskey: Bottling and Maturation Methods Defined

   Whiskey is distilled and matured in a number of ways that assist in defining the characteristics of a spirits when it exits the still and hits the shelf at the store. In fact, as is the case especially with Scotch, much of the telling traits of the spirit are presented during the mid-distillation process to the Distillery Manager or Master Blender for analysis; the exit strength and characteristics will be forged by the traits that are revealed at the beginning and middle distillation and filtration processes. Veteran Scotch distiller and blender Jim MacEwan, who had been working for the Bruichladdich distillery in Scotland prior to his 'retirement', stated this very same nuance of creating a beautiful, breathtaking Scotch whisky.

   Now with all the different variations on how whiskey (or whisky) is distilled, filtered, matured and bottled, the consumer can be left with their head swirling around on its vertical axis. The differences between each designation of spirit is easily addressed and defined. Within the whiskey trade, these are the most common terms used to describe certain whiskeys.

Sour Mash

Reusing old mash to start the fermentation process of a new batch.

Single Barrel

Single barrel whiskey is a premium class of whiskey in which each bottle comes from an individual aging barrel, instead of coming from blending together the contents of various barrels to provide uniformity of color and taste.

Double Barrel or Double Wood (also Double-Matured or Wood-Finished)

Double barreled (or finished) American whiskey is aged in another barrel (used or new) after it first ages in the traditional charred American white oak. Around 60 percent of a whiskey's flavor comes from the barrel, so these bottles take on unique character, and can push the limits of what you're used to.

Small Batch

Small batch whiskey is whiskey produced by mixing the contents of a relatively small number of selected barrels. Small batch whiskeys are commercially positioned for the upper-premium market. The term is most commonly used for American whiskeys, but is sometimes used for other whiskeys as well.

Bottled In Bond

This means the bourbon was made at a single distillery, by one distiller in one distillation season, aged for at least four years in a federally bonded and supervised warehouse, and bottled at 100 proof. This is a label for an American-made distilled beverage that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government's Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.

Cask Strength or Barrel Proof (Barrel Strength)

Cask strength is a term used by whiskey producers to describe a whiskey that has not been substantially diluted after its storage in a cask for maturation. The level of alcohol-by-volume strength for a cask strength whiskey is typically in the range of 52–66% ABV.

   By providing you these tidbits of information, Transpirits hopes that you can add this to your toolbox of liquor knowledge. Certainly defined terms such as these will be helpful when perusing the whiskey section of any alcohol isle. If you have any other questions, concerns or would like to suggest a topic for a future information blog post, please feel free to email us at