As distilled spirits sit in barrels to age, a portion of the product evaporates. Sometimes more water evaporates and sometimes more alcohol evaporates, all depending on the outside humidity levels. For example, if the aging process is happening somewhere tropical like Jamaica or the Bahamas, more alcohol will evaporate because of the higher humidity levels. If a spirit is being aged in less humid conditions such as Ireland or Scotland, more water is prone to evaporate. Regardless of where the barrel rests, some of what’s inside is definitely going to disappear into thin air forever. This lost serving is known as the angel’s share.
OK, so hang on a second. Angel’s? Really? Isn’t an angel imbibing the ultimate paradox? Yes sure that’s the joke and we can take it but we couldn’t help but wonder if the drunken sailor who came up with the term couldn’t have been a little more creative before giving away those precious alcoholic fumes to angels.
According to Scottish folklore, there’s a celtic water spirit named Shony (Seonaidh if you speak Gaelic) who was believed to be able to grant a good season of crops if someone from the village was willing to wade out into the water and feed him a cup of ale. And that ale by the way, was freshly brewed from bags of malt that each family contributed. Sounds like one heck of a process. What about just wadin’ out into that water and telling old Shony that he could have every molecule of evaporated whiskey in all of the land? I bet those crops would be plentiful for centuries.
Or how about Dionysus’s Share? It’s a bit of a tongue twister but it could work. Dionysus was the god of wine making and wine. Surely he wouldn’t mind expanding his terroir knowledge to include a little rum, whiskey, and scotch? Dealing with so many Greek gods all the time has to be taxing and I’m sure Dionysus could a use something a wee bit stronger than wine.
And then there’s the Jamaican spirit, River Mumma, who guards the source of the Jamaican rivers. They say she sits in the rivers and combs her long beautiful black hair with a golden comb. If you happen to see her, you cannot touch her or look at her or she’ll drag you into the depths of the water where you’ll die. She would be the perfect candidate to watch over thousands of barrels of rum while she brushed her hair. And since they say she eats fish, she could drink like a fish instead.
I’m guessing that River Mumma’s share, Dionysus’ share, and Shony’s share probably won’t catch on. But perhaps you can come up with some that will. Those drunk little angels staggering around surely deserve a little time to sober up. Lord knows there will be plenty of the good stuff ready when it’s time to once again fall off the
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