The majority of whiskey’s life is spent in a barrel aging in warehouses known as a Rick house (or Rack house). These building are specially designed with interior structures, called ricks,” where the barrels are stored upon. The barrels can be stacked several stories high depending upon how they are constructed. Most are wood framed with a thin metal exterior, and provides little/no insulation from outside temperatures. There are a stone and brick ware houses and these provide more insulation and less air movement (Science shot: brick/stone is better insulation than thin sheet metal!).
Time spent at the Rick House has a substantial impact on the whiskey….and not all time spent it equal!
In the U.S., because of the climate a Rickhouse can experience large temperature variations from the first to the top floor. The variations impact the whiskey as it expands and contracts into the wood. The more extreme temperatures in the higher floors cause the whiskey barrels to age and evaporate more quickly. More “Angel’s Share” occurs in this area. The spirit can also have a spicier flavor than the lower level barrels.
At the popular distilleries, one can find many different brands (often the same exact liquid!) resting side by side in one Rick house. At Buffalo Trace distillery, the flagship brand (Buffalo Trace) is aged at the Rick House ~8 years in the higher floors. Drinkers of this spirit are likely to enjoy camping and rugged outdoor sports. Eagle Rare is aged ~10 years on the first floor and sheltered closer to the center where there are lower temperature variations. Drinkers of Eagle Rare enjoy glamping, or day trip hikes and a Hilton Garden Inn at night. It’s the same whiskey enjoying two different lifestyles!
Boom! Another shot of knowledge!
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