While visiting a Scotch Whisky cellar, I am struck by the calm that reigns there. Nothing seems to move. But that feeling is misleading! Someone explained to me that although the whisky is placed in a well-closed oak barrel, some of it may still escape. This is called the angels’ share.
Every year, a barrel sees an average of 2% of its content disappear. While this process unfolds, the whisky loses strength but gains in character, developing complex aromas.
This is also why the cellars are always dark. During my visit to Elgin, I was surprised to see the very dark walls. It’s a natural phenomenon. The alcohol that escapes feeds a small black mushroom that clings to the cellar walls. The whisky that evaporates is not visible, but it leaves traces behind!