How does the process work you ask?
Barrels in a solera are arranged in different groups or tiers, called criaderas. Each scale (the rows) contains whisky of the same age. The oldest scale, confusingly called solera (bottom row) holds the whisky ready to be bottled. When a fraction of this whisky is extracted from the solera (this process is called the saca), it will be replaced with the same amount of whisky from the first criadera, the one that is slightly younger and typically less complex. This, in turn, will be filled up with whisky from the second criadera and so on.
Method in Steps
- Take a row of barrels on the ground (solera – means on the ground), Fill them all up with your whisky. Let it age for a while.
- Stack another row of barrels on top of that first one. Fill them up. Row 2 now consists of whisky a bit younger than that of Row 1.
- Add another row of barrels on top of that. Fill them with younger whisky. This can be usually up to around 8 – 10 criadera
How does this process help the distillery?
You can get a more consistent product by blending older whiskys into your newer batches, ensuring that customers are always get the character they’re expecting from your distillery.
You can also experiment with adding layers of flavour by changing the type of barrels you use on different rows. Think of starting out in ex sherry, then moving down to a row of port barrels, then back to sherry, then to a row of port barrels again!!!
Hope this has helped you all understand the Solera process