(abbreviated "Hhd", plural "Hhds") is a large cask of liquid (or, less often, of a food commodity). More specifically, it refers to a specified volume, measured in either imperial or US customary measures, primarily applied to alcoholic beverages, such as wine, ale, or cider. — Hogshead – Wikipedia
It must have been in 1999 when a group of four friends (including myself) started to think about buying a whisky cask. A whisky cask full of whisky of course. We agreed to buy the cask from the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland, because it was, at that time (and probably still is), one of the few distilleries which were malting their barley themselves as well as performing their own bottling.
Our hogshead in 2003
The cask we bought was a hogshead which in our case meant 242 litres of 100 proof Springbank whisky, distilled in November 2000 (see picture). The hogshead we went with was a Sherry refill cask and our whisky was the second whisky in this Sherry cask (that is what the B stands for in the picture). The price included the whisky and the cask itself and 10 years in Springbank’s warehouse. One important information at this point, which we ignored or which we did not care, is that the whisky in the cask in the warehouse is not yet taxed. Once you want to get the whisky out of the warehouse and bottled it will be taxed. A lot.
Cask Owners Privilege Card
Now that we owned a whisky cask in Scotland we made plans to visit it (of course). The first visit was in July 2003 from which we still have the first picture of our cask as well as some notes from the stillman.
Stillman notes 2003
In addition to the visit and the picture we were able to get one sample bottle of our whisky and for the first time we were able to taste it. At that time it still tasted very alcoholic and was not as smooth as it is now. At that time our whisky has been less than three years in its cask and has not had enough time to mature. Having matured less than three years our whisky could not even be called a scotch yet.
First bottles (left:2003 right:2007)
Our next visit to the Springbank distillery was in 2007. We did a distillery tour and were also able to visit our cask again. We were also able to get another sample bottle from our whisky.
In 2008 we ordered the first 8 bottles of our whisky and they soon arrived:
2008 8 bottles
In 2010 the whisky had its 10 years to mature in the cask and we started discussions with the distillery to get one part of our whisky bottled. The minimum number of bottles to start the bottling is 120. The remaining whisky should stay in the cask for 5 more years. After selecting a label and how the bottles would be transported to us, 120 bottles of single cask Springbank cask strength arrived at my door in March 2011.
After 5 more years in the warehouse we decided to bottle the remaining whisky and in April 2016 156 bottles of our remaining single cask Springbank in cask strength were shipped. After 10 years the whisky had 54.8% vol alcohol and after 15 years it went down to 51.8% vol alcohol.
The delivery of the last bottles included the hogshead which is still in front of my house. Standing in the rain in front of my house the original labelling started to appear and it seems to origin from Dublin.
CAP. 250 CONT 253
The whisky we got is really good, especially the bottling after 15 years. Being cask strength means you usually have to add a few drops of water.
Overall it was a really fun experience, especially to how many different people you have to talk to get everything shipped to our place. I am happy that I was asked to join this group in 1999 and want to thank everyone involved.