We know many of you share our delight in the details of whiskymaking. So as we launch Orchard House, we’d like to dive into some of the geekier aspects of its story. The fruity, spirit-forward style of Orchard House is a result of key decisions we’ve made in the whiskymaking process, as well as changes in barrel profiles over time. Here’s our whiskymaker James Saxon to explain more…
Finely judged filling strengths
Many years ago, the late, great Dr Jim Swan inspired us to begin filling spirit at 58% ABV, rather than the industry standard 63.5%. Research had found more sugars – many derived from the breakdown of cellulose and hemicellulose – can be drawn from the oak at strengths below 60% ABV.
Orchard House is a great example of this, and with nearly two-thirds filled at the lower strength, you get added vanilla creaminess and citrusy sweetness. Also, once maturation is completed, less water is required to reach bottling strength and the finished whisky experiences less dilution.
The changing face of Bourbon barrels
Orchard House uses whiskies aged in ‘water-rinsed’ first fill ex-Bourbon barrels, Oloroso Sherry-seasoned butts and our French oak custom barrels. Water-rinsing barrels after they are emptied of whiskey in the US before shipping to Scotland has become widespread in recent years. This process extracts the maximum amount of alcohol from the barrel to the benefit of the American distillers, but also removes a degree of the oak’s intensity.
The sweet spot between first and second fill
This is serendipitous whiskymaking. We thought we were sourcing classic ‘first fill’ barrels, but the maturation profile of the casks falls somewhere between first and second, offering comparable quantities of vanilla and honey notes with less intense oily spice and creamed coconut flavours. This has opened up a whole new world to us, perfectly preserving and enhancing the fragrant nature and syrupy texture of our sourced spirits, enabling the delicate deliciousness of Orchard House to come to fruition.
Share & Enjoy,
P.S You can buy Orchard House in Europe and other select regions now by heading to our shop and from mid-October in the US. Please get in touch if you need any help finding your nearest stockist.