As we enjoy the changing colours of the autumn foliage here in Speyside it is interesting to reflect that the colour of the whisky can give clues about its age and the type of cask used for its maturation.
New-make spirit is colourless like water when it comes off the still. Whisky matured in American white oak, used for Bourbon, generally develops golden colours. Whisky matured in European oak, often used for Spanish sherry, can develop copper or amber colours. Whisky which has been finished in casks which previously contained different varieties of wine or port may develop hints of pink or red while casks which previously contained other spirits like run, cognac or tequila can impart even more variety.
After years maturing in an oak cask the spirit takes on the distinctive colour of Scotch whisky. It is during the first three years that the interaction between the wood and the alcohol is at its most intense. After the first three years the influence of the oak on the whisky reduces slowly as the years pass.
The blending of dozens of casks to create a batch produces a consistent aroma and taste. However, there can be small variations in colour from one batch to the next. The flavours of the whisky will also be influenced by the influence of the oak over the years. Discover more in one of my workshops which will offer the opportunity to taste, as well as see, the differences