Scotch is matured in the wooden casks in which it is stored. From medieval times it was known that whisky, when kept from many years in barrels that had contained sweet wines, sherry or port, became smoother and more flavoursome, and if kept for long enough thicker in consistency.
While maturing, the whisky changes character and draws its colour from the casks, to achieve its golden appearance. Opinions differ on the maturation period for single malts. Most agree that they would be kept five years, but they can continue to improve far beyond that age. The evaporation rate is at least 2% per annum abd this is called the Angle Share.
Once it is bottled the maturation ceases. The casks used to be mainly sherry casks, but they became scarce and expensive. The bulk of new casks are made from American whisky barrels imported in knocked down form. These are reconstructed in large central cooperages, although some distilleries still have cooper for repairing casks.
This old St. Andrews presentation pack of Miniature Barrels holding selected whiskies has been developed as a celebration of the long and famous traditions of maturing the spirit of Scotland to the perfection the world has come to expect