Following on from my earlier post on flavour profiles, one of the things that I’ve begun to recognise is the way that different casks affect the flavour of the whisky. Particularly if the whisky has been put in barrels that have been used previously for other types of drinks including bourbon, sherry and port. David Stewart, the malt master at Balvenie, developed a procedure for 2 cask maturation whereby whiskies are moved to a new cask in their final months of maturation. A current favourite of mine is Balvenie’s DoubleWood 17 year old which is initially aged in American oak barrels and finished in European oak sherry barrels.
When I was in Tasmania I sampled a few whiskies from Overeem including their 43% sherry cask and their 43% port cask. I love the sherry cask version but not really into the port version. I’ve just had a look at Highland Park’s website and was amused to discover that they prefer sherry casks too :-) I recently sampled and bought a bottle of Benriach’s Pedro Ximinez sherry cask whisky. My palate seems to be following a very clear pattern here :) I’ve just come across a top 10 sherry based whiskies to try, of which I think the Yamazaki is the only one I’ve tried and it too was yum.
With that said, I need to avoid limiting factors too. There are other barrel options that seem to work well for me. When I was in NZ last year I got to try “The 1987“, 1987 being the year the whisky was put into the barrel. I’m unclear which barrel it was stored in but the notes refer to both american oak and ex-bourbon barrels. It may well have started in American oak and been finished in the ex-bourbon…or vice versa :) Either way, it was a soft, smooth dram that was utterly delish.