For years whisky distillers have been experimenting with different wood finishes for their products. They age the whiskey in the typical barrel (new charred oak, used bourbon, etc) then they transfer it into a barrel previously used to age wine, rum or any other product that will add to the flavor profile they are trying to achieve. We have had several great examples of this process. My two favorites are the Balvenie Caribbean Cask, a 14 year old single malt scotch finished in a Rum cask, and the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, a 12 year old single malt scotch finished in a Port cask.
When the scotch is transferred into this finishing barrel it begins the process of absorbing into and out of the barrel wood. This pulls the flavors from the last product out of the wood and into the whisky, creating new flavor profiles.
If you would like to compare the changing flavor profiles infused by the finishing barrels I have a couple recommendations. On the Scotch side look for Glenmorangie. They start with their 10 year old “Original” then finish it, for two more years, in three different barrels. As stated the Quinta Ruban is finished in a port wine barrel, the LaSanta is finished in Oloroso & PX Sherry casks and the Nectar D’Or is finished in French Sauternes casks. You can generally find these in a smaller bottle size gift pack so you can compare them. On the Irish Whiskey side look to Tyrconnell. This is one of the few Irish single malt lines. They take their 10 year old and finishes it in Port, Sherry and Madeira casks, bottling the separately as well.
The May tasting for the River City Whisky Society focused on sherry finished whiskies from the main whisky-producing countries of U.S., Canada, Ireland and Scotland. And, as we do at our tastings, we rank the whiskies to show the groups least favorite to the most favorite. Here are the results and a few tasting notes:
#5: Slaughter House American Whiskey (this is not their bourbon, it is American whiskey, which generally means a high corn content): Good flavor, tastes of cinnamon, vanilla and honey, smooth, weak finish, very sweet, surprisingly good for the high corn content, very drinkable.
#4: Alberta Rye Whisky – Dark Batch (Canadian): Bold flavor, taste of brown sugar, woody, not complexed, sharp finish, all around mildness.
#3: Tyrconnell (Irish Single Malt): Nice start but flat finish, floral flavor, taste of raisins and fruit.
#2: Bowmore – The Devil’s Casks (Peated Scotch): Outstanding start, very bold on the nose and the pallet, sophisticated, lingering finish.
#1: Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve (Single Malt Scotch): Sharp aroma, outstandingly smooth, sweet, spicy, tastes of honey and nuts, dynamic and smooth finish.
This tasting was a great representative of the influence wine can have on whisky. And cost does not have to be an issue if you are looking for a very good bottle….the Glenrothes was under $50.
It was a great tasting with a lot of comradery. Thank you to all 25 attendees and a special thank you to Joe #54 for hosting.