While wine cask finishing is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of whisky history, it’s one that has changed the taste of our drams for good. Step away from the sherry bombs – we’re shining a light on eight progressive wine cask finished whiskies…
Wine cask finishing: Where the worlds of wine and whisky collide in (mostly) joyous harmony. Over the last few decades, producers have been whipping out their world maps and exploring traditional grape-touting territories as they seek to round off their tasty, tasty whisky in a curious cask. And let’s be honest, it’s all rather exciting isn’t it?
Green Spot Chateau Montelena
Launched in October 2017, Green Spot Chateau Montelena is the first single pot still Irish whiskey to be finished in French oak Zinfandel wine casks. It’s the second release from the Irish Distillers-owned brand’s Wine Geese series, following the equally pioneering Green Spot Château Léoville Barton Whiskey in 2015, and was initially matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks before a year-long finishing period in casks that previously held Zinfandel wine from Chateau Montelena in California’s Napa Valley. It’s said to be sweet and dry, with pot still spices, zesty citrus, ripe orchard fruit, marzipan and toasted oak. Lovely stuff.
Arran 2007 Amarone Cask Finish
An interesting bottling from the experimental folk at the independent Arran distillery. After ageing in ‘traditional oak casks over a number of years’, this single malt Scotch whisky has been finished in casks that once contained Amarone wine – a dry Italian red made with partially-dried Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes – sourced from the Veneto region of Italy. As such, Arran 2007 Amarone Cask Finish boasts grape must, oak and vanilla on the palate, with soft nutmeg and cranberry on the finish.
Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye – Vermouth Cask Finish
A farm-to-bottle whiskey from the Pennsylvania-based Mountain Laurel Spirits distillery, finished in former sweet vermouth casks (it may be fortified, but wine is wine…). The rye is made to the brand’s flagship spec – 80% rye, 15% malted barley, 5% malted rye – and then aged for a minimum of six months in charred new oak quarter casks before taking a turn in former American vermouth casks for a further three.
Edradour 16 Year Old 2000 – Barolo Cask Finish 56.1%
This 16 year old single malt hails from Edradour – one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries. It’s a cask strength dram, and was distilled in November 2000 before enjoying a 46-month finishing period in hogshead casks that previously held Barolo; a deep, rich Italian red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape. The palate is wheaty, with apple chutney, black pepper and blackberries, rounded out with a chewy chocolate finish.
Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Cask Finish
This creamy, fruity dram from Highland distillery Tullibardine was initially aged in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels before a finishing period in a 225-litre (hence the name) Sauternes cask from Chateau Suduiraut. A sweet French dessert wine, Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, known as ‘noble rot’. The resulting whisky is spiced, with a wealth of sweet fruity notes that span candied orange to dried pineapple.
Caol Ila 2003 (bottled 2015) Moscatel Cask Finish – Distillers Edition
The ultimate ‘peat and sweet’ combo, this. To create this whisky, 2003 vintage Caol Ila Distillers Edition has been finished in casks which previously held Moscatel wine; a floral, aromatic wine made from the Muscat family of grapes, within which more than 200 varieties exist. Classically smoky at its core, complemented with white grape and dark sugar.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection – Sonoma-Cutrer Finish
This Pinot Noir-finished gem is tucked away in the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection. To create this brilliant bourbon, the distillery team finished cask-strength seven-year-old Woodford Reserve bourbon in Pinot Noir casks sourced from the highly-regarded Sonoma-Cutrer winery in California. Rich and oaky, with red berries and a touch of sweetness.
Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish
The team behind Glenmorangie distillery are renowned for finessing wine cask finished whiskies, and this little gem demonstrates their skills most excellently. Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish is an exceptionally rare bottling from the distillery, and was initially matured in American white oak before it was treated to a finishing period in first grown claret casks from Pauillac, Bordeaux.
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