For most whiskies around the world, the barrel aging process is largely responsible for the unique flavors in our beloved brands.
Temperature variations (day/night, the seasons) expand and contract the liquid into the wood of the barrels, drawing an amber color and complexity from the charred oak. While the barrels are great for holding booze, the oak’s makeup is such that it allows for an exchange of air and liquid over time. Slowly, liquid escapes from the barrel in what is called the Angel’s Share.
Why Angels? Because the lost share is evaporated into the heavens above!
Freshly barreled whiskey can lose up to 10% of its content the first year to the Angel’s share! This is basically the Angel’s Freshman year of college.
Afterwards the first year, the Angels learn to pace themselves and there is 3-5% liquid in the remaining years. Over a 20 year period, a Kentucky bourbon might have only 16 Gallons of its whiskey remaining in a 53 Gallon Barrel! That a lot of sponsored Angel parties.
Not all Angel Shares are created equal.
Climate plays a role in the process. In the warmer southeast U.S. climate, whiskey typically loses more water to evaporation and gains alcohol proof in the barrel (Less tipsy Angels). On the other hand, milder climates such as Ireland and Scotland tend to lose alcohol to evaporation and thus loses alcohol proof in the barrel (More tipsy Angels).
So, one can conclude from this exercise Angels are generally happier in Scotland and Ireland.
Boom! Another Daily Shot of knowledge!