Does Whiskey's Angel's Share Hurt the Environment?
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What Impact Does Whiskey-Making Have on the Environment? Researchers Aim to Find Out

Angel's Share

Florent Caston, cellar master for Whisky Twelve distillery, fills a glass with beer distillate used to obtain whisky in Laguiole, southern France, on May 19, 2022. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Scottish government is looking into the environmental impacts of maturing whiskey, specifically what’s known as the angel’s share, according to The Spirits Business.

The “angel’s share” is the portion of whiskey that evaporates during the aging process. The term comes from the belief that angels take a share of the whiskey while it is aging in heaven. In general, the angel’s share is about 2% of the total volume of whiskey per year.

This loss can add up over time, which is why many older bottles of whiskey are much smaller than newer ones. The angel’s share can also affect the flavor of whiskey, making it smoother and more mellow. While some people may mourn the loss of whiskey to evaporation, others see it as a sign that the angels are enjoying a good dram. Either way, it is an important part of the whiskey-making process.

The Study on Angel’s Share

The Scottish government has commissioned a review into the impacts of non-methane volatile organic compound emissions, which will include an assessment into the emissions that come from malt whisky maturation. According to the Scotch Whisky Association trade body, around 22 million casks are maturing in warehouses in Scotland. There are currently 138 operating Scotch whisky distilleries across the country.

“Improving air quality and the health of our people and planet is an urgent priority for this government and we’re taking action across the board to deliver this. Last year, we published our updated air quality strategy, setting out how Scotland can achieve the best air quality in Europe,” a spokesperson from the Scottish government said, according to The Spirits Business.

To support that, we are commissioning a review of the available evidence on the health and environmental impacts of non-methane volatile organic compound (NMVOC) emissions, including an assessment of the emissions from malt whisky maturation.

Scotland’s whisky industry is extremely valuable to our economy and we recognise the sector’s commitment to good environmental practices.”

The review will help to inform future policy decisions related to air quality and the scotch whisky industry.

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