Dog years; thats the phrase we've christened for the aging of Waiheke Whisky. To put it mildly, our angels share is insane. Up to 15 % per year in the hottest part of the barrel shed up at the top of the stack. A combination of high temperature variation and humidity seems to be the cause.
The question is does this make a difference to the end result of the whisky. We think it does but with caveats. It really depends on the wood. Virgin oak casks become over "cooked" very quickly and develop bitter astringent tastes if not careful. The Refill Bourbons and STR wine barrels seem to be the most forgiving of this rapid aging climate.
The wine barrels we were using in our early distilling became quite tannic and we learned use the wine as a finish not a maturing barrel. Our Dyad range features local wine barrels from the island for finishing, including Bordeaux, Viognier and Chardonnay ( Dyad Chardonnay won a gold at the Drammys this year ).
There is something else occurring with this rapid aging, and some of our non peated whiskeys have been described as " soft or etherial " The French Oak matured Sweetwater is a good example. It has a softness and gentle profile that belies its 5 years in the barrel. Look for it in our next tasting pack release, Dog Years.