Beer and Whiskey. Whiskey and Beer. Although generally crafted from similar ingredients, the end products are quite different. Most people’s experience combining the two is a result of chasing a shot of whiskey with a swig of beer at a party, or ordering a “Boilermaker” special (a shot of whiskey and a beer) at happy hour or an airport bar.
But did you know there is a much better way to combine these two popular beverages? May we suggest a beer barrel finished whiskey?!
By taking barrels previously used to age different beers, and reusing them to finish whiskeys, a completely new flavor profile is created. To celebrate International Beer Day on August 4th, here are the Top 10 Best Beer Barrel Finished Whiskeys.
10. Deanston Stout Cask Finish
One of WhiskyCEO’s favorites, the ten spot belongs to the Deanston Stout Cask Finish. Take the classic, sweet Highland malt from Deanston, and layer on a milk chocolatey creamy mouthfeel imparted by the New Holland Dragon’s Milk Stout finish, and you got yourself one hell of a dram!
Not overly imposing, but a very pleasant combo that stout and whiskey lovers can both enjoy.
9. Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition
Another stout finished whiskey, this one from the prolific Jameson Distillery in Ireland. Say what you will about the standard Jameson Irish Whiskey bottlings, but their Caskmates line of beer finished whiskeys definitely worth giving a taste.
They also feature an IPA finish, but the stout edition has been better received by the Abov community. What makes it even better is they partner with different Irish breweries to leverage local Irish stout barrels in their finishing process.
8. Glenfiddich Experimental Series #1 IPA
Speaking of IPA finishes, Number 8 on our list of Top 10 Best Beer Barrel Finished Whiskeys is an IPA finished single malt from Glenfiddich. As part of their Experimental Series that features unique casks and finishes, the first release utilized India Pale Ale barrels.
The citrus, floral, and bitter notes coming from the hops used to brew IPAs all make their way into what is already a lighter-bodied and sweet malt. This could be a great summer sipper if you can get your hands on a bottle!
7. New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon
Another whiskey using New Holland Dragon’s Milk Stout Barrels in the finishing process, this one straight from the Dragon’s ti… well, you get the joke.
Better know for the beer they brew, New Holland made their way directly into the whiskey game with their New Holland Artisan Spirits spinoff. A young bourbon gets a little extra time in stout barrels creating a spicy yet sweet dram.
6. Säntis Malt Edition Dreifaltigkeit
Glad we are typing this and not trying to say it out loud, but next up we have unique whiskey from Switzerland. Dreifaltigkeit is German for trinity, referring to the triple distillation process this edition undergoes, unlike most Scotch-style single malts, which are only distilled twice.
In addition, the malt is peated and its all aged in “old oak beer casks”. The resulting whiskey is smokey, oaky herbal, sweet, charred, fruity, and spicy. There is not a lot of beer influence on this one, but it can be hard to tell with all of the complex flavors powering through.
5. West Cork Irish IPA Cask Matured
Number 5 features another IPA finished whiskey, this one from Ireland’s West Cork distillery. A light blended Irish whiskey, it really leans heavily into the IPA flavor notes.
Lemon, grapefruit, and peach met with fragrant floral notes all come through making this a must have for fans of IPA beer’s distinct profile.
4. Tomatin Cù Bòcan Creation #1
Our list of the Top 10 Best Beer Finished Whiskeys continues with this bottle from Tomatin. Probably the most intriguing whiskey on the list, the Cù Bòcan Creation #1 spent time in both beer barrels as well as Moscatel wine casks making it truly a special “creation”.
Hints of smoke build complexity over notes of fruit, nuttiness, biscuits and more. Unlike some of the other drams on the list, the beer barrels aren’t really the focus of the flavor, but play into a far more complex tasting.
3. Lagavulin 11 Year Old Offerman Edition Guinness Cask
A collaboration between one of Islay’s most popular distilleries, Ireland’s most famous beer brand, and American TV sitcom’s most beloved Scotch enthusiasts sounds pretty good, right?
That’s exactly what you get in the second of currently 3 Lagavulin offerings partnering with actor Nick Offerman. This what takes the highly peated Lagavulin 11 year old malt and finishes it in Guinness Irish Stout casks, creating a smokey, malty, chocolately experience that is truly unique.
2. Westward Stout Cask
Westward Distillery in Portland, Oregon, USA is one of the pioneers of the burgeoning American Single Malt style of whiskey. While their standard single malt is good, their finished whiskeys are even better!
Sending their used single malt barrels to breweries to mature their stout beers, these barrels are then returned to Westward with a lot of stout flavor imparted to provide the finish.
With notes of oaky vanilla, chocolate, banana, and almond toffee, this bottle is a must try!
1. Glendalough 07 Year Old Black Pitts Finish
There have been a lot of stout finished drams on the list, but to that, Irish distillery Glendalough rightly says, “Hold my beer!” Instead, they take their 7 year old Irish single malt, and finish it in Black Pitts porter barrels.
While similar to a stout, this porter beer finish adds even darker chocolate notes, balancing out the light honey, citrus and vanilla flavors of the malt. Quite an interesting combo.
What do you think about our list of beer barrel finished whiskeys? Have any favorites that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below!