What is the appeal of whiskey? It could be the amber hue, the toasted vanilla aroma, or the peaty smokiness imparted by the fires used to dry the grains.
Before being consumed, whiskey is aged in oak barrels and produced from a variety of grains, including corn, rye, barley, and wheat.
But whiskey producers and consumers all agree on one thing: the longer the whisky ages in the barrel, the more flavor it will acquire.
As with other barrel-aged alcoholic beverages, it has been demonstrated that long-aged whiskey develops flavors that a young whiskey cannot have.
Actually, 70% of whiskey's flavor comes from the oak barrels it's aged in. For liquor to develop these characteristics, it must be aged for at least three years.
According to Smithsonian, the barrel and location also play a role in the final flavor of whiskey.
Like many wines, whiskey is aged in toasted oak barrels, which mellows the spirit's initial harshness and imparts flavors like vanilla, butter, and spices.
According to the BBC, whiskey aged in dry climates will reach its full potential in less time due to the evaporation of water from the barrels.
However, in cooler and more humid climates, alcohol content falls faster as whiskey ages, and the spirit can be aged for decades.
Therefore, the whiskey will spend more time in contact with the oak, allowing it to take on a more subtle, mellow flavor.