Whisky barrel storage


Why is cask ageing so important for whisky?

Storage in wooden casks (for at least 3 years) plays a decisive role in the quality and character of each whisky, because only through the appropriate cask maturation over many years can the typical whisky flavours develop.

In addition, the mouthfeel and the alcohol impression change positively with the duration of the maturation, as the interaction of the distillate with the wood and the penetrating oxygen sets the magical maturation process in motion. At the same time, a part is lost to the environment through evaporation - the so-called Angel's Share. However, this is indispensable for maturation: "Where nothing goes out, nothing goes in", which means that alcohol and water escape (evaporate) from the barrel and oxygen gets in. Oxidation by oxygen is an essential part of the maturation process.

What characteristics are important in barrel storage?

The maturation process in wooden casks is very crucial in the production of whisky, so the cask stores, their climate and structural condition are of decisive importance. Only in an appropriately designed cask store can maturation lead to the desired results.

What is important to us when storing our barrels:

  • Mild climate - no enormous and above all rapid temperature fluctuations between day and night or between seasons. A stable temperature prevents leaks from the barrels.
  • Mitigation of weather extremes - no exposure of the barrels to extremely hot or cold temperatures in summer and winter, which also has a positive effect against leaks as well as too high Angel's Share in summer.
  • Good ventilation - a certain air exchange is desired. This provides fresh air and thus fresh oxygen for the ripening process, and at the same time removes air saturated with alcohol and water from the warehouse. IMPORTANT: Ventilation only to the extent that the humidity does not fall below approx. 75 % relative humidity, otherwise it would be too dry for the barrels.
  • Good air quality around the warehouse and in the warehouse - directly influencing the quality of the whisky by absorbing the oxygen.
  • Security of stored drums - protection against fire, flooding, theft, sabotage, etc.

Our camp: St. Kilian Bunker City!

Our outdoor storage facility - the St. Kilian Bunker City - fulfils all these characteristics. The former NATO ammunition bunkers are spread over an area of just under 80 hectares and are the perfect solution to meet our requirements for a perfect whisky warehouse.

Why is the bunker so suitable for whisky storage?

Each bunker is perfectly secured against water ingress, the terrain is sloping and transports larger rain masses downhill, away from the facilities. Not only is each bunker secured, but the entire site is fenced and monitored according to Nato implementation, ensuring optimal protection against burglary or sabotage. In addition, the wide distances between the bunkers ensure security against fire damage, and an appropriate lightning protection system on each bunker also protects against lightning strikes. As already mentioned above, ventilation is also a central issue; the bunkers are forcibly ventilated by existing steel chimneys - perfect for maturing.

We are in the middle of the beautiful Odenwald and secluded from the next village. Each bunker is covered with earth, grassed over and partly overgrown with forest. This has a perfect effect on the microclimate and air quality, because the isolation of the earth and the regulation of the climate in the forest mean that there are no extreme temperature peaks in summer or winter. Very constant and moderated conditions in the camps are the positive consequences of the conditions in the bunkers.

The bunkers are made of concrete and the ceilings, walls and floors have not been treated or painted. Due to the untreated structures, the microclimate in the bunker itself is perfect for whisky storage. The casks sit on top of each other in the steel racks to a maximum height of 3m. This results in good homogeneity in the bunker, because the higher the storage, the more different the degree of maturity from the topmost cask compared to the lowest casks.

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