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Light the candles and throw on some 90s R&B… ‘cause we’re about to get frisky with our Whisky, baby.
These bottles aren’t the typical "wham, bam, stick me in some oak, ma’am" types. Oh no. Experimentation is the name of the game here, and these Whiskies like to spice things up by marinating in casks that’ve been places and seen some things… if you know what we mean.
The question is: are you ready to take your palate for a walk on the wild side? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s get weird.
While Bourbon’s legally required to use new (but charred) American oak barrels for its finish, other types of Whiskies are exempt from having to play by that rule. While the typical drop is aged in a cask that once held Bourbon or Sherry, distilleries are getting crazy with their finishing casks, opting to put their juice in barrels that once held Wine, Rum, Cognac and even Beer. And because the barrel has a huge influence on the color and taste of the Whisky inside (it’s estimated that a cask contributes 60% of a Whisky’s flavor!), this new experimentation is producing some pretty insane results that promise your palate a pretty wild ride.
Case in point: Auchentoshan Three Wood, a Lowlands Scotch with an affinity for three-way finishes involving Bourbon, Sherry and Pedro Ximenez casks. Then there’s Slane Triple Casked, a blended Irish Whiskey that spends its time in the warm embrace of Virgin American Oak, Aged Bourbon Oak and Oloroso Sherry casks. Think those two know how to get freaky? The Isle of Jura Seven Wood says "hold my Beer." This Single Malt Scotch uses seven (yes, seven) different kinds of casks to arrive at its infinitely complex taste.
Lookin’ for a good time? It’s all right here in this very box. So slip into something comfortable, yeah? ‘Cause these Whiskies know all about a good finish.
1) Finishing, double matured, wood-finishing — they’re all the same thing. It’s a process that involves moving a Whisky from one cask to another for more complexity in aroma and taste.
2) That’s a slightly different thing from aging, which simply refers to the process of Whisky getting older.
3) Recently, The Scotch Whiskey Association clarified their stance on aging. Scotch can be matured in new oak casks and/or in oak casks which have only been used to mature Wine and/or Beer, and/or Spirits.
4) But there are a few exceptions to that rule: no barrels that housed alcohol made from stone fruits, and no barrels that had fruit, flavoring or sweetener added after fermentation or distillation. Them’s the breaks, fruit fans.
5) Coming soon to a Scotch near you: barrel-aging using Tequila casks. Ay dios!
6) Who in the heck is Pedro Ximenez? It’s not so much of a "who" but a "what." Pedro Ximenez is a white Spanish grape that’s typically used to produce a very sweet Sherry. Barrels that held its Wine usually give the Whisky a darker color and lend it a nutty and fruity taste.
7) Whisky isn’t the only one who gets to have all the fun when it comes to finishing, breweries are putting their Beer "to sleep" in Whiskey barrels to add more depth and character to the taste profile.
An un-aged American Whisky is often called “white dog.”