So what do we mean, "barrel finished" spirits? After all, don't most spirits spend at least some time in a barrel?
What we specifically mean by the terms "barrel/cask finished" is that the spirit has spent at least some time in a barrel that had previously held an unrelated spirit or wine (though sometimes even more unique things like beer or coffee). One famous example of this is Angel's Envy, a bourbon that is finished in barrels that previously held port. Another well known one is Macallan 12, a scotch that spend time in sherry oak casks.
The original spirit seeps into the wood of the new barrel and remains there, mingling with the wood even after the barrel is drained. When a new spirit is introduced it picks up all kinds of great things from the wood of this barrel, including some of the previous tenant spirit. What results, if done right, is a new twist on aging that is greater then the sum of it's parts. Angel's Envy is not just a bourbon with port added it to it -- it's something wholly different that picks up some of the sweetness of the port and some of its tasting notes, marrying it to notes of wood and transforming it into a delightful sipper. Where port gives chocolatey sweet notes, sherry can lend a certain nut profile and so Macallan gets its nutty reputation.
Expert distillers and blenders carefully select what type of vintage barrels will play well with their spirits in hopes of producing something new, unique and delightful. Below we introduce just a few of our favorites sorted by "barrel finish" type.
Explore, mix, enjoy!
Port Cask Finished
This expression has plenty of lushness, body, and complex sweetness while still allowing Glenmorangie’s barley roots to shine through. This is a great after dinner scotch with a chocolatey mint finish. $56.50
A selection of rums that are finished in Tawny Port Pipes to 15 years. A deep port forward nose with wisps of grassy rum. The palate starts with eucalyptus and grass and finishes off with citrus and vanilla. $68.50
Using Portuguese ruby Port wine casks as the main flavor, Kavalan Concertmaster single malt whisky is first matured in specially selected American oak casks and then finished in port barriques. The marrying in the barriques mellows the flavors and adds balance to the whisky. It is rich bodied with natural sweetness and complexity. $91.50
Wine Barrel Finished
Nine year whiskey, finished in Orin Swift Papillon barrels, which adds perfumed aromatics and rounds out the mouthfeel. Caramelized sugar, baking spices, dark fruits, butterscotch and vanilla notes. The finish is impressive with honey, toast and loads of caramel. $39.50
Blend of 5-8 year old Bourbons finished in Mercury Head Cabernet barrels. Balanced flavor and silky mouthfeel with dried fruits and smoky campfire, hints of milk chocolate from the Cabernet rounded out with a barrel-forward whiskey flavor. $49.50
First taste is of cardamom, and then Madeira and Sherry. There’s a bit of that similar lemon and citrus rind note from the Blanc version. Less juniper initially, and unlike other aged gins, a mild nose that doesn’t assault you with oak and overt signs of aging. $46.50
A little oak on the nose and some vanilla with light caramel/toffee. Palate of light fruity strawberries, a great mix of vanilla and a really nice warming mix of oak and some great mouth watering spicy notes on the mid palate. The finish is long and nicely oaked. $48.50
The first release in Pierre Ferrand's Renegade Barrel series, this cognac is aged in combination of former cognac and Sauternes (a French white dessert wine) barrels. As always with Ferrand cognac releases, it is made entirely from grapes from the Grande Champagne region. It is bottled at 48% ABV. Limited availability. $76.50
After half of Barrel 27 was bottled for Release 1, the remaining rum was aged an additional 6 months in two American Oak quarter casks that had previously held California brandy. Vanilla, root beer, matches, toffee, baked figs, banana, brown sugar, and funk. Release #2 is definitely more mellow then #1, it’s also more fruity, with a stronger brown sugar note through out. At first the sip feels significantly sweeter, but as it evolves that’s when the similarities with its younger sibling become much more pronounced - the funk and molasses are still very present. The finish of those same molasses and light smoke goes on for ages, with fruit notes never fully fading in the background. $64.50
Unmalted wheat is the focus of this whiskey. Twice direct-fire pot distilled, the wheat is matured in an optimal, decelerated environment by giving used whiskey barrels a 2nd chance to age this whiskey. The goal is to allow the pliable wheat to be vibrant, distinctive, and blended to showcase an evolving style.
Distilled from Unmalted Canadian Wheat and Malted Rye from the UK. Aged in used Rye and Bourbon barrels, this Limited Edition release was further aged with a Cognac barrel finish.
Unfiltered and hand-bottled. Notes of butterscotch, light brine, english toffee, vanilla, spicy sultanas and citrus. $43.50
Sherry Cask Finished
A new addition to the Redbreast family, the Sherry Finish Lustau Edition offers a new way to experience the signature sherry taste. Born of a unique collaboration between the Bodegas Lustau and the Midleton Distillery, Redbreast Sherry Finish Lustau Edition is initially matured in traditional bourbon and sherry casks for a period of 9-12 years. It is then finished for 1 additional year in first fill hand selected sherry butts that have been seasoned with the finest Oloroso sherry from the prestigious Bodegas Lustau in Jerez.
Rich infusion of dark fruits, prunes, dates & figs with liquorice, marzipan, toasted oak and spice. Creamy pot still body with spices balanced by richness of sherry finish and fresh Spanish oak. $65.50
Kavalan Sherry Oak cuts Solist Sherry with Kavalan spring water to 46% strength. It is clean and complex with multiple layers of dried fruit, nuttiness and spices with some marzipan and vanilla touches to it. $144.50
Rum Cask Finished
Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat, and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tangerine). Nice viscosity with good grip on the finish. Fantastic for rum lovers who want to get into scotch and vice versa. $69.50
Beer/Ale Barrel Finished
Light Whiskey aged in a barrel previously filled with a rich, crisp Sour Ale from. This whiskey has a rich, bright citrus embraced by the caramel of the whiskey. Presented unfiltered to preserve the integrity of flavor. $39.50
Mosswood is known for their incredibly creative and harmonious barrel finishing. In addition to this Sour Ale Barrel Whiskey, they also produce Espresso, Scotch, and a Apple Brandy Barrel finished whiskies.