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The Angels’ Share

Upon completing the aging process, ancient distillers found themselves confronted with a perplexing phenomenon. Despite starting with a cask brimming with spirit, they often ended up with significantly less, sometimes up to half of the original volume. Lacking scientific understanding, they attributed this loss to what they deemed as nature’s allocation to guardian Angels—celestial protectors overseeing human endeavours and lives.

However, the reality behind the “Angels’ share” lies in the process of transpiration within the casks, exacerbated by the absence of controlled-temperature storage for aging spirits. In warmer, moister environments, alcohol evaporates at a faster rate, causing a reduction in the spirit’s initial alcohol content.
Conversely, cooler, drier conditions prompt greater water evaporation, thereby concentrating the overall alcohol content.

The Angels’ share represents a significant loss, typically ranging between 2 and 4% annually depending on climate, ambient humidity, and cask size (with smaller casks facilitating greater transpiration due to increased wood contact). Statistical analyses reveal staggering figures, in Scotland alone, approximately 110 million litres of whisky vanish each year—equivalent to 44 Olympic swimming pools!

A twenty-year-old grappa, for instance, may experience a volume loss of up to 40%, necessitating periodic decanting and topping up of casks. Consequently, spirits matured over extended periods exhibit distinct characteristics compared to their younger counterparts, as the former—whether for better or worse—have likely left more celestial beings intoxicated!


While the angels claim their share, the devil lays claim to his own. The term “the devil’s cut” denotes the portion of distillate absorbed by the wood of aging casks. Unlike evaporation, this phenomenon doesn’t affect the alcohol content of the product but is solely dependent on the porosity of the wood utilized.

The above description is why we decided to call our basement bar, the Devils Cut! It is a fantastic speak easy style space perfect for private events in Edinburgh. It’s ideal to host birthday parties, engagement parties, stag and hen events, corporate events with clients, sit down meals, buffets and a host of other events! Get in touch with us now and see what we can offer you!

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