There are so many things to love about cask-wine finished whiskies. Here, we breakdown what they are, how they are produced, and look at some of our favourites.
What is a Cask Wine-Finished Whisky...and how is it produced?
Whisky producers age whisky in all sorts of casks - so much affects the taste of the whisky, from the wood the cask is made from, to the placement of the cask in the warehouse (the casks at the top of the warehouse actually taste different to the ones at the bottom!).
When wine is held in casks, even after it is removed from the cask, a small amount of wine soaks into the wood - so when that cask is refilled with whisky, the aroma and flavour of the wine seeps into the whisky over time. The whisky is usually aged for years before moving to the wine cask, so it is therefore 'finished' in the wine cask.
How do producers know which wines and whiskies to mix?
While you'd think there was some complex formula behind this, the real answer is - trial and error. Producers will add a few drops of wine to whisky and see how the flavours blend. Or - if they have a favourite wine and a favourite whisky, they can finish the whisky in that wine cask to combine their two favourite flavours.
Why do distillers offer cask-wine finished whiskies?
The main reason: they are delicious! Also, it's a great way to experiment with flavour in a really subtle way - scotch, as a product is pretty heavily regulated, so finishing scotch in a wine cask, is a great way to create new flavours without totally altering the original product. A lot of whisky distillers also own wineries, reusing barrels is a great way to save resources + money.
What are our favourites?
1. Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine
Finished in Italian and French Red Wine Casks
Eirigh Na Greine (pronounced 'Ae-ree ne Gray-nyuh) means 'Morning Sky' in Galeic, a perfect name for this gorgeous amber gold drop. This very limited edition release comes from Bunnahabhain (proncounced 'Boon-ah-van'), from Islay in Scotland. It's matured in their warehouses before being finished in Italian and French red wine casks.
This whisky has a fruity, spicy aroma, with a rich, sweet palate and a smooth, lingering finish.
2. The Arran Single Malt
Finished in Ex-Sauternes Dessert Wine Casks
After maturing in traditional oak casks, this Single Malt was finished in Sauternes Wine Casks. Sauternes is a beloved sweet white wine from the Bordeaux region in France.
This wine is perfect for October - with notes of honey, apricot and pear, as well as fig and barley. A rich, sweet whisky perfect for warm spring afternoons.
3. Bladnoch 17 Year Old
Finished in California Red Wine Casks
Bladnoch is one of the oldest Single Malt Scotch Whisky producers in the world, so it's no surprise that this red wine finish is so excellent. These guys know what they are doing.
This smooth, rich and complex limited release was aged in traditional casks before moving to Californian red wine casks, creating a sweet and spicy whisky with a dried fruit finish.