My host, at Thanksgiving dinner, graciously produced a couple of single malts from his collection, for those of us who were so inclined to indulge. Not surprisingly, I was.

One was Ardbeg 17 year old; a classic Islay malt. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly, but it was a curiosity to me to notice that this 17 year old whisky was very light in color. How, I wondered, could it stay in a barrel for 17 years, even a used barrel, and yet be so light in color at bottling? Not even amber at all, but more of a pale golden color.

The other bottle was Blair Athol 12 y/o, also very pleasant. I struggled throughout my dram to put my finger on the peculiar fruitiness, before I learned that it was aged in sherry casks. 'Splains everying. This whisky, however, being five years less in wood, was much darker in hue; a lovely rusted amber.

What's the explanation?