Our in-house innovator James Evans has once again taken to his mini cask to create an interesting and (hopefully) tasty concoction. This time he’s seeing how well Tequila takes to oak seasoned with the awesome power of real Guinness.
It’s been a while since my last venture into mini casking. The delay is because the first experiment was such a success, that I was taking my time to enjoy the finished product. Unfortunately as all good things do, the last of my special Port cask whisky came to an end,
Following my last blog, I’ve had many folks reach out to ask about it, taste some samples, get advice on their own mini cask and generally be invested into my project which was amazing. But it also built up the expectations for what would come next. So, for my next venture, I had to push the boundaries, be more daring, more exciting.
I started to think about a whisky I had tried recently that I absolutely loved, the Lagavulin Offerman edition finished in Guinness casks, I wanted to recreate the creamy, slightly bitter, vanilla espresso flavours that I found coming from the finish of the Guinness but I thought using a peaty whisky to do so would basically just be the same. I then thought about spirits that would pair well with these flavours and then I decided that a Tequila blanco was the answer.
Step One: preparing the mini cask… again.
As mentioned before, mini casks can be rather leaky when you first use them, especially when you leave them empty and dry for a long time like I did. When I went to fill up my cask with warm water to saturate the wood, the water came flooding out as if there were a second bung hole at the bottom. I worried that I would have to purchase another cask but I soldiered on.
After leaving to soak in a container, fully submerged in warm water overnight, I refilled the cask with warm water and it did not leak at all! I was genuinely blown away by this. I wish I had taken a video of how bad the gaps in the cask were as I don’t think anyone would believe that soaking it would be enough to close them up. Just to make sure though, I left it in warm water for another day.
Step Two: Guinness seasoning
Now that my cask was thoroughly waterlogged, I emptied it out once more and let it dry for about half a day. Then I bought a few cans of Guinness, drinking one for good measure. I popped open the cask and started pouring in the black nectar. Once the froth had settled down and I was able to fill the cask in its entirety, I left the Guinness to sit for about three weeks to really season the cask.
After the three weeks had passed, I cracked open my cask with giddy excitement, thinking back to my last experiment turning my seasoning Port into a delicious oaky treat. As soon as the Guinness touched my lips, however, I knew I had made a huge mistake. It was incredibly bitter (as I should have expected from a flat Guinness) and sour too. This couldn’t have been a good sign of things to come. At this point I was wondering if this experiment was a dud and contemplated not seeing it through, as I worried what horrific flavours from this devil Guinness might impart onto my precious Tequila. But I decided to stick it out to the hopefully not as bitter end.
Step Three: Tequila time
Now to choose my Tequila to hopefully not ruin. I had recently tried El Tequileno Resposado and fell in love with its hints of vanilla sweetness with smooth and dry finish. I thought that choosing the blanco style for this experiment would make for an interesting outcome and allow me to add age myself.
So, in the Tequila went, two 500ml bottles of the stuff. I have to say I did question my sanity when pouring out the tasty Tequila into a cask seasoned with that horrible bitter Guinness. I then let it all rest in my cask for just shy of two weeks. Again, when ageing your final product remember to check for taste every couple of days as once you are happy with it, take it out! Changes can happen fast in such a small vessel and you’d be surprised what a difference only a couple of days can make so don’t overthink it, when you like it, take it out and enjoy!
Step Four: the final product
So, here are the fruits of my labour. I had tried to push the boundaries a bit and do something different. There were some bumps in the road and I lost faith in the successful outcome of this story but the time had come to take it out. So how was it, I hear you cry?
Surprisingly, the Guinness-finished El Tequileño turned out to be an incredibly approachable, creamy and delightful drop. I know, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect after tasting the Guinness but I am so glad I stuck it out.
The final Tequila had notes of sweet roasted agave, delicate herbaceousness and vanilla on the nose, this was followed by a silky smooth, rich and creamy texture with subtle hints of butterscotch, dark roast coffee beans and a slight bitterness on the palate. This Tequila was in my totally unbiased opinion, fucking delicious. The only downside being that I only have around 900ml of it.
Step Five: cocktail time!
Now I am no cocktail maestro so I employed the help of the highly knowledgeable team at MoM to suggest some cocktails that might pair nicely with my Guinness Tequila. Richard Legg, our training and compliance coordinator, suggested the following recipe from Difford’s Guide:
50ml James’ ‘homemade’ Tequila
25ml Galliano Ristretto
35ml pineapple juice
4 drops of Daiquiri bitters
Shake all the ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with an orange twist. Delicious!
If you thought any of this was interesting or want to suggest a finish or spirit I could experiment with next, drop a comment below. As always, we love to see what you have been up to so if you’ve got a wicked cool mini cask experiment on the go, share us the pics or videos of them, we absolutely love hearing about them.