As one delves into the world of spirits and wines, they're bound to come across romantic and mystifying terminologies. One such term that captures the imagination is the "Angel's Share." To a newcomer, this phrase might sound divine and ethereal, and in some ways, it is. This evocative term sheds light on the relationship between time, wooden barrels, and the precious liquid stored within.
What Is The Angel's Share?
The Angel’s Share refers to the amount of whisky or wine that is lost to evaporation during the aging process. When alcoholic beverages are aged in wooden casks, a certain percentage of the liquid evaporates through the pores of the wood, disappearing into thin air. This loss, often seen as a sacrifice to the heavens, is affectionately termed as the portion taken by angels.
Why Does It Happen?
Wooden barrels are not entirely impermeable. The nature of wood, with its porous structure, allows for the exchange of air. This means that as the spirit or wine sits, some of it will naturally evaporate. The exact amount of evaporation can depend on various factors including the type of wood, the climate of the aging location, the size of the cask, and even the specific spirit or wine itself.
The Impact on the Beverage
The Angel’s Share is not merely about loss. It plays a pivotal role in the maturation of the spirit or wine. As the liquid evaporates, it creates headspace in the barrel which allows the remaining liquid to interact more with the wood. This interaction leads to the beverage extracting flavors, color, and character from the wood. As the volume reduces, the concentration of flavors in the remaining liquid intensifies.
A Journey Through Time with Glen Breton Whisky
Glen Breton offers a unique perspective into this mystical process. Let's journey through time with some of their aged treasures:
Glen Breton 10-Year-Old Whisky: A decade in wooden barrels gifts this whisky its refined character. While some of its spirit has been sacrificed to the angels, what remains is a beverage enriched by its dance with oak.
Glen Breton 14-Year-Old Whisky: As the years roll on, the Angel’s Share takes more, but in return, deeper hues and more complex flavors develop. The 14-year-old variant offers a balance between youthful vigor and mature grace.
Glen Breton 19-Year-Old Whisky: Approaching two decades in wood, this whisky tells a tale of patience and transformation. The angels have had their fair share, but the nectar that remains is a testament to the wonders of time and aging.
Wine's Relationship with The Angel's Share
While the term is predominantly associated with spirits, especially whisky, wines too face evaporation during aging. The principles remain similar; however, the rate of evaporation can differ. While winemakers might not romanticize the loss with the same term, the concept persists. As with spirits, this evaporation affects the wine's concentration, texture, and overall profile.
More Than Just a Poetic Term
The Angel's Share is more than just a poetic term; it signifies the transformative power of time. As whisky and wine age, they lose some of their essence to the heavens, but in return, they gain depth, character, and an intricate palette of flavors. The next time you pour yourself a glass of aged whisky or wine, take a moment to appreciate the journey it's been on and toast to the angels who've had their share.