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Spain to England, Ireland and
Scotland. After the butts and
hogsheads were drained, distillers
used these conveniently empty
barrels to age their whiskey. They
noticed that this practical practice
imparted sweet, fruity notes to
their liquor and helped soften the
" In Scotland, it has been a huge
Master Distiller Brian Prewitt of A. Smith Bowman has more than 20 years of
experience in the brewing and distilling industry. He said he wants Bowman's
cask-finished bourbons to have a clean port character, free of defects and a
complementary finish.
By Annie Tobey
Wine and liquor? Together?
Except for a few rare cocktails (if
you haven't tried a New York Sour,
it's a must), we generally consider
the two as options: wine or liquor.
Thanks to distillers willing to color
outside of the bottle, consumers now
have increasing access to spirits aged
in wine barrels.
If you're a purist and can't
imagine anything better than your
favorite liquor, just as it is, think of
it as adding a creative twist to your
Better yet, think of it this way: In
spending time with friends, it's nice
to change up how you spend time
together. Check out a new bar or
restaurant, try a different running
route or biking trail or go to an
actual ballgame instead of watching
sports on your television. The same
goes with your favorite spirits: a bit
of creative variety can add a spark
to your enjoyment.
Consider Grand Marnier. Cognac
is wonderful, as is orange liqueur.
But the melding of the two has
created an exceptional liqueur.
Most wine barrel-aged liquors
start with a whiskey that has
been aged in oak barrels and
then finished in barrels that
once held red wine. But there are
notable-and tasty-exceptions.
Other brown liquors, such as rum
and tequila, have benefited from
spending time in wine barrels.
Dulce Vida Extra Añejo Tequila,
came of age after spending five
years in American oak barrels that
previously nurtured merlot and
cabernet wines from Rombauer
Vineyards in California's Napa
Valley. The resulting tequila speaks
to whiskey and wine lovers as well
as tequila lovers.
White liquors like gin and vodka
have partnered with the fermented
fruit of the vine, too. New Deal Old
Tom Gin, for example, is aged in
wine barrels from Oregon.
A New Old Technique
Today's distillers who are aging
spirits in wine barrels deserve a lot
of credit for pushing boundaries.
The concept, however, is not new.
Sherry, one of the world's oldest
wines, was shipped in casks from
thing to be finishing off your single
malt Scotches in madeiras and
Sancerre casks and sherry butts
and port casks-anything they
could get their hands on, " explains
Shelley Sackier.
Currently director of distillery
education at Reservoir Distillery,
Sackier also interned at Scottish
" For the most part, from the
beginning [use of these casks] was
more a matter of like, we just don't
have enough barrels, so where can
we get barrels. "
Even today, many quality Scotch
whiskies use wine barrels for aging.
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso,
for example, has been matured
exclusively in first-fill Oloroso
sherry oak casks from the Jerez
region of Spain-the most highly
prized and sought-after casks used
by whiskey makers, for imparting
wonderfully rich flavors of dried
fruits and warm spices to single
malt whiskey.
In America, on the other hand,
many whiskey drinkers have come
to expect that their whiskey will be
aged in charred new oak barrels-
as is the case with bourbon. Once
bourbon has served its time in
those barrels, though, it may
legally be " finished " in other
kinds of barrels-including wine
barrels-to add to the complexity
of the spirit and appeal to a wider
range of drinkers. Whiskies not
aspiring to be called bourbon have
even fewer aging restrictions.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SPVAQ42021

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