Don’t whine about wine Casks!
Wine casks in the whisky industry are becoming ever more present in single malts. This is the discussion of red, white, and sweet wine casks such as Sauternes, Bordeaux, Barolo, Pinot Noir, and not the equally delicious fortified wines like; Sherry, Porto, Madeira.
It may come as a surprise that usage of wine casks in the Scotch industry is not a new edition. Historically wine casks have been used in the whisky industry for a long, long time even when it was dominated by sherry. Stemming back to when casks of wine would be shipped to Scotland or England to be bottled locally and the used casks would be gobbled up by the distilleries for maturation. It is true that at this time the casks were not chosen specifically but were taken based on availability.
The new growing trend or experimentation, is to select specific quality wine casks to bring a variant flavour profile to the Whisky. This has been producing great results. An added bonus is the fact that these casks are readily available from wineries and at a much lower cost. They are being used for finishing, full maturation, and as part maturation. Which process they are used for depends on the experienced palate of the Malt Master.
Using these types of casks gives a new dimension to the spirit from the particular oak used. French oak is a common occurrence with wine casks, which does vary in character from an American oak giving the spirit a spicy, less sweet, and silky tannin structure. Given the multitude of wine grape assemblages be it dry, sweet or robust the variance of expressions is massive.
This was recently experienced at a lowland distillery which had a 9 year old fully matured in a red Bordeaux casks. The expression was a lovely, full character of French oak and a fine red wine. The Whisky Market Ltd has some tasty Tullibardine resting in some fine red Grands Crus … sadly not ready yet, but maturing fabulously … We cannot wait!
Characters: Dry, fruity, smoother tannins, ruby colour, robust, honey
There are various distilleries that are releasing wine cask finished whisky, which is gradually gaining more admiration by single malts drinkers. Be it a sweeter finish of a sauternes or a more robust profile from a heavy red wine …. How could you not like it or be curious?