Whiskey Elements with Glen Moray
A Home Ageing Experiment with Time & Oak
With the explosion of craft distilling, more and more people are interested in the whiskey making process and looking to experiment with some whiskey of their own. Home distilling takes a lot more control and equipment than home brewing, however there are many means to age your own whiskey. (You may have already read our experiment with the home ageing kit from the Woodinville Whiskey Company.) A few months ago, one of Leonidas’s co-workers brought in something he thought would provide for a similar experience.
The package contained two comb-shaped wooden sticks, from Time And Oak, and are designed produce an accelerated ageing effect on the spirits they are added to. The process is simple, add the stick to a full bottle, wait between 24 and 72 hours, and taste. During this time, contact with the oak sticks should transform the spirit inside, adding depth of flavor and color, and removing toxins.
The Whiskey Elements sticks are high tech products, laser cut with several channels designed to produce more surface area to allow for as much contact with the oak as rapidly as possible. Naturally, we wanted to try this out in a somewhat scientific environment. Working with Leonidas’s co-worker, we wanted to select a single malt whisky that would provide the ideal characteristics to observe the effects Whiskey Elements stick. We decided that we needed something young, perhaps a non age statement expression since anything that spent a long time in oak is likely to already have a strongly defined flavor profile and color. Similarly, we wanted a whisky that was light in character and texture so that we could have a more neutral starting point.
Ultimately, we decided on the Glen Moray Elgin Classic single malt. A light, and most likely younger Speyside, the Elgin Classic seemed like a great candidate to demonstrate the power of the Whiskey Elements mini stave. First, we took a taste from the freshly opened bottle.
No Element | Thurs. 12/27
On the Eyes: Helles lager color, pale gold. More viscous than expected, long legs in the glass.
On the Nose: Raspberry, strawberry, a bit floral. A bit spirity heavy
To the Taste: Clean, malty and sprity heavy. A bit of bubblegum, and hard fruit candy. Sweet and mellow
Finish: Finish is a bit sticky and sweet, like vanilla extract and strawberry preserves
Following the instructions, we poured a fresh dram and gave it a swirl with the Element for about 2 minutes. The color change was noticeable.
Element Swirl | 2 Minutes
On the Eyes: Pure gold to light amber, similar viscosity
On the Nose: Fresh cut grass, the fruit aromas are much reduced. A bit buttery, like buttercream cake frosting. Also a wisp of smoke
To the Taste: Flavor is similarly clean and light. Fruit flavor is still there but sweetness is a bit more muted.
Finish: Much different, dry and definitely more oak tannins
Next, we dropped the Element into the bottle and left it alone for a day. After 24 hours, the color had turned darker, and we tasted several new flavors with the overall profile skewing much more oak heavy.
Element in for 24 Hours | Friday 12/28
On the Eyes: Wildflower honey color, similar texture
On the Nose: Grassy, cereal grain aroma that is clean and oak heavy with a honey sweetness.
To the Taste: Palate is more balanced and salty. Fruity sweetness is still there but is more pineapple and coconut.
Finish: Bitter chocolate with sea salt and oak tannins dominate the finish
We decided to push our experiment and see how long we could leave the Element in the bottle. Our heuristic was to stop the experiment as soon as the oak influence started to take over the flavor. That point was reached at the 48 hour mark. The whisky had at this point turned to a color that we would associate with a typical bourbon or even certain types of sherry.
Element in for 48 Hours | Saturday 12/29
On the Eyes: Reddish gold color, like a Amontillado sherry. Similar rich viscosity in the glass.
On the Nose: Aroma of dry wood and grass, along with a bit of apricot
To the Taste: Brown sugar sweet up front, then a quick dash of oak tannin which has an effect like black pepper. Less intensity than the initial batch. Has a lot of bourbon quality to it now.
Finish: The finish is even more on the bitter and dry side, with very little of the fruit flavor or sweetness left.
We can definitely testify to the fact that the Element had a clear effect on the Elgin Classic. In the span of two days, what was a fruity, light and sweet Speyside single malt became a heavily bourbon-aged, almost Highland style whisky. The texture of the whisky also changed, feeling less oily and more punctuated. While we could have pushed the process to 72 hours, we felt the bottle would be all oak at that point. Luckily, Whiskey Elements come in a pack of 2, so we’ll have another shot at the experiment. Any ideas of what whiskey we should try it on next?