For those of you that drink whisky regularly, you will likely have come across the story of the Angels’ Share. But for more casual whisky drinkers, let me explain.
Each and every year, every cask in every warehouse from Scotland to Ireland and India loses a certain portion of whisky from evaporation. In Scotland, where the temperature is cooler, it’s around 2-3%. In India, where it’s hot, hot, hot, about 11-12% disappears annually.
This chunk of missing whisky is affectionately referred to as The Angels’ Share because it is the angels that get the benefits of this natural process. This is also the title of a fantastic Ken Loach film from last year, which I highly recommend you check out and which I reviewed here.
Recently on Twitter, I noticed a company called @Angelshareglass. Curious, I followed them and I soon received an email from the affable founder Karen Somerville about what they were doing.
Her father, Tom Young, is a master glassblower, with more than 50 years of experience in the field. The pair decided to start a business called Angels’ Share Glass to honour one of the Scottish whisky industry’s most fabled tales by designing hand-blown glass angels, whisky droppers and stirrers, among other things, based on the idea.
In a recent interview, Karen explained to me their reasoning for doing so.
“We checked that no one else had ever done it before and thought this is as well known a Scottish fable, as say, the Loch Ness monster, so why hasn’t anyone captured it? That’s when we thought we better get this idea protected and registered the design. All distillers talk about The Angels’ Share on their tours,” she told me.
I received one recently and was really enamoured with it. In a special process that Tom knows, the glass blown angel is filled with a few drops of whisky and then sealed up afterwards. She’s delicate, classy and a proper example of craft-work to watch over my whisky collection.
The way the pieces are made, Karen said, is different than normal glassware.
“Kiln glassblowers or crystal makers use very soft and molten liquid like glass. We use a very strong and tough glass usually found in laboratory glass (Pyrex). It takes a very sharp hot flame to melt it but at the same time you can hold the rest of the glass cold. As the business grows we hope to train new glassmakers and keep this dying skill very much alive,” she said.
And the angels even have a celebrity tie-in, with many of the people behind The Angels’ Share film having one in their possession now too, including its famed director.
“Paul Laverty, The Angels’ Share co-writer’s sister in-law has a daughter at my sons’ primary school & one of my school friends is cousins with star Paul Brannigan. We wanted to send them one and we couldn’t have sent one to them without Ken getting one too. He sent a really lovely postcard back to us saying how much he loved it,” she added.
For more information on Angels’ Share Glass and Tom Young’s work, visit: www.angelsshareglass.co.uk