Whisky ageing: the different types of casks

Apart from the length of maturation and the liquid that the cask previously held, it’s also the size of the cask that influences the flavor of the whisky that comes out. The bigger the wood-spirit ratio (wood directly touching the spirit), the more flavor the oak can transfer to the liquid. So, generally: the smaller the cask, the bigger the influence of the cask, and the more intense the flavor.

Whisky cask sizes

Although a cask can come in any size, there are several standard cask types that have been used to age wine and other liquids for centuries. The biggest standard cask type used to age whisky is a tun, which is 252 gallons in size. Many standard cask types are connected to the tun in size: a pipe or butt is half the size of a tun, while a hogshead is approximately 1/4 of a tun. And exactly 14 rundlets fit into one tun.

  1. Firkin – 40 liters / 11 gallons
  2. Bloodtub – 50 liters / 13 gallons
  3. Octave – 50 liters / 13 gallons
  4. Rundlet – 68 liters / 18 gallons
  5. Kilderkin – 82 liters / 22 gallons
  6. Quarter Cask – 125 liters / 33 gallons
  7. Tierce – 159 liters / 42 gallons
  8. Barrel (bourbon)– 200 liter / 53 gallons
  9. Barrique – 225 liters / 59 gallons
  10. Hogshead – 238 liters / 63 gallons
  11. Puncheon – 318 liters / 84 gallons
  12. Cognac cask – 350 liters / 92 gallons
  13. Butt (sherry) – 480 liters / 126 gallons
  14. Pipe (port) – 480 liters / 126 gallons
  15. Demi-muid – 600 liters / 158 gallons
  16. Drum – 650 liters / 172 gallons
  17. Tun – 954 liters / 252 gallons
Red wine barrels (foreground), sherry butts (background) and bourbon casks (right) at The Balvenie Distillery in Dufftown.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear shortly.