The Quarter Cask

In the early days of the 19th century whisky was often transported by mule or packhorse. The whisky would be placed into small ‘quarter casks’ and await collection (less charitable historians suggest it was more to do with avoiding the duty officer as it enabled the distiller to use cattle paths!). In any case, inevitably, maturation would take place in these tiny barrels. With the advent of modern communications and the increase in scale of the scotch whisky industry, these uneconomic barrels quickly fell into disuse and were forgotten.
Now as all whisky lovers know, the relationship between the oak, the air, and the maturing whisky is absolutely critical. Recent Professional studies conclude that up to 50% or more of a whiskies aroma and flavour development, occurs during the maturation process. Now the smaller the barrel used, the stronger the oak influence will be, due to the hugely increased oak surface contact compared, to the small amount of whisky they contain. In the case of a quarter cask it


is 30% greater than our standard barrels! - Furthermore these quarter casks ‘breathe’ far more deeply (the angels share) drawing in much more of the local air to infuse with the whisky. This is particularly critical in the case of Laphroaig due to its unique location. Our original Dunnage warehouse (called No1 unsurprisingly) is still in use. It’s stone walls and earthen floor sit literally right on the seaweed laden foreshore, which faces and receives the full brunt of all the North Atlantic can throw at it.
Indeed, on many a morning there is a sea mist inside the warehouse. It is no wonder Laphroaig is famed for it’s ‘medicinal nose’.