Distilling: Why Batches?
The production of single malt whisky is varied and complex with almost an infinite number of variables coming together to create the flavour spectrum that we see across all the different single malt whiskies made around the world.
By its very nature, single malt whisky is a special thing. Not just because of the care and attention employed in its production, the use of high-quality equipment, ingredients, casks and the skills of those making it, but through the process of maturation and the many years, it takes to create it.
If you’re setting out to create a whisky release that can be enjoyed more than once and in more than just one place, all the variables within production can present challenges when it comes to maintaining the consistency of flavour in your whisky from bottle to bottle. This is where careful cask selection, marrying and batches come in.
A crucial piece of information to remember in all this is the ‘single’ in single malt whisky means whisky from a single distillery. In the case of single cask whiskies then the single is referring to the single cask that has been selected for bottling.
What is a batch?
A selection of casks married together to make a batch of whisky. Each batch is limited and will nearly always have subtle differences from other batches.
How do we do batches?
It’s all about cask selection. As with all our releases (except for our single casks), each batch is the result of careful cask selection, picking the right casks to marry which create the specific flavour profiles we are looking for to make the best whisky possible.
Why do we do batches?
Every cask in our warehouse and the whisky that sleeps within it is comparable to a living breathing thing. Although on paper a selection of casks may look the same, be the same age and the same type of oak, the whisky from each cask will be a bit different. One cask may be sweeter, one may have more colour. Until you take a sample and assess the whisky from each cask you really can’t know for sure. So when creating a batch where the recipe may look the same as the last batch the resulting whisky can be a bit different to last time.
Rather than make huge batches of whisky using hundreds of casks to iron out the differences and remove these unique characteristics, we let them shine through in our batches. Filey Bay Moscatel Finish Batch 2 is a perfect example as the core flavour profile remains the same but subtle differences are apparent. As a young distillery, this approach allows us to show the development of our whisky as more casks in our warehouse come of age and our maturing whisky gets older. It also means that as the batches progress, the whisky in your glass will continue to soften and develop more complex flavours as oak and time deepen the flavours in our whisky.
With a limited number of casks used for each batch, naturally, we have a limited number of bottles at the end. Typically around 16-18 casks make a batch of one of our Finished releases which yield enough whisky for around 5000 – 6000 bottles. However, sometimes these batches will be smaller as flavour always comes first.
For the majority of our Special Releases like Yorkshire Day 2021, these are typically a marriage of 4-6 casks and we tell you exactly how many bottles there are. In the case of this years release, only 1500 bottles are available.
What about Flagship, is that the same?
Our Flagship release stands apart from all our other releases as it’s made using a different method. A proportion of a previous Flagship batch is kept back to introduce to the next batch which maintains the core flavour profile whilst allowing the expression to evolve over the years. We call it fractional blending, similar in principle to solera systems that are seen in the production of sherry and in some cases wine.
If you have any questions or queries, contact the team at [email protected] or give us a call on 01723 891758.
Written by Whisky Director, Joe Clark