A whisky that has been ‘cask finished’ spent its last maturation time in a cask that has previously been filled with something else. This transfers some part of the ‘old’ flavour to the whisky, which results in a more full, unique flavour.
A sherry cask finish is probably the most well-known type of maturation, but whiskies that have been finished in sauternes casks (French white wine) or port casks (Portugese red wine) are also quite common. Some other types of double maturation, however, are very unique.
Benromach 21 Year Old, Tokaji Finish
Unique Tokaji wines are produced in a very small region in the north-east of Hungary, as well as in south-east Slovakia. The Tokaji Aszu was the personal favorite of King Louis XV, who called this wine ‘The King of Wines’. The sweet Tokaji wines add a unique touch to Benromach 21 year old whisky.
45% abv, €109
Brenne Whisky, Cognac Finish
Brenne is a small farm distillery in the heart of Cognac, France. Their whisky starts in new Limousin oak barrels, before it is finished in Cognac casks. This gives Brenne Whisky a hint of perfumed fruit that sets it apart from other whiskies.
40% abv, $57
The Arran Malt, Grand Cru Champagne Finish
In 2005, Arran produced a very limited amount of 307 bottles that had been finished in Grand Cru Champagne casks. It won’t come as a surprise that only a few of these bottles have remained unopened, making it a whisky that is very rare to find.
58,9% abv, price: n/a
Springbank 12 Year Old, Calvados Wood Finish
When apple cider is double destilled, a cognac-like spirit emerges: Calvados. This apple brandy is bottled at 40 to 45% abv, which is similar to most whiskies. Six years of Calvados maturation adds some delicious apple flavours (obviously) to a peaty, six year old Springbank whisky.
52,7% abv, £57
Woodford Reserve, Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish
Corn from Kentucky, grapes from France and the Californian sun in a bottle – that’s Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Finish. The Sonoma Cutrer Vineyards in California mainly produce white Chardonnay, but also a handful of red pinot noir wines. Their casks are used by Woodford Reserve to finish the latest addition to their Master’s Collection – a dark whiskey with unmistakable hints of berries and red fruit.
45,2% abv, $94
Abraham Bowman, Gingerbread Beer Finished
The title for the cask finish that raises the most eyebrows probably goes to Abraham Bowman, for their Gingerbread Beer finished whiskey. Despite the fact that the whisky only rests in former beer casks (which, in turn, are former bourbon casks), it adds a distinct, malty taste to Abraham Bowman’s seven year old whiskey.
45% abv, $70
Crown Royal, Maple Finish
The Canadian sure love their maple. There are several maple finished whiskeys, and the majority of them is produced in Canada. According to Crown Royal, their maple finished whiskey is a perfect blend of their signature caramel and vanilla nose with the elegant aromas of light, fresh maple. A warm, sweet and woody Canadian whiskey.
40% abv, $29
Edradour 12 Year Old 1998, Sassicaia Cask Finish
Sassicaia wine is produced in Tuscany, and is considered one of Italy’s leading Bordeaux-style red wines. The 12 year old Sassicaia finished Edradour was bottled in 2011 at cask strength. It is part of a series with different cask finishes, which also includes Burgundy, Marsala and Portwood matured whiskies, amongst others.
Glen Moray 16 Year Old, Chenin Blanc Finish
Most of Glen Moray’s whisky ends up in blends, but their 16 year old expression shows that Glen Moray is much more than just another blend ingredient. This whisky is matured in chenin blanc casks, and has acquired silver medals at multiple editions of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Glengoyne, Glenguin Shiraz Cask Finish
Glengoyne is the only (non-Australian) whisky distillery we’re aware of that offers a whisky with an Australian wine finish. This 16 year old was matured in shiraz casks from the Glenguin estate in Australia’s Hunter Valley, and offers a full flavour of salted berries and red fruit.
Caol Ila 15 Year Old, Demerara Rum Finish
Many distilleries have rum cask finished expressions, but Demerara rum matured whiskies are much more difficult to find. Demerara rum comes from British Guyana, and has a deep flavor that is all of its own. The sweet, mellow rum flavours mix exceptionally well with the strong Islay-whisky. However, the Caol Ila Demerara Rum Finish is not a whisky that you’ll find on the shelves of most whisky stores, unfortunately. Only 650 bottles have been produced.
45% abv, price: n/a
What’s your favorite cask matured whisky?