View Full Version : Sherry finishes

07-17-2004, 13:04
Note: this is a continuation of the "Describing Rye" discussion that seemed to be veering off the "American Whiskey" theme...

I haven't had a lot of experience with sherry finishes but have always been fond of Black Bush, which is a Bushmills Irish whiskey finished in sherry casks.

I'd have to say Black Bush and Balvenie Doublewood are the only two malts in which I actually *LIKE* the sherry influence. The Macallans are overdone to the point where it totally camoflauges the malt. The Islays (which I also like) have a sherry component, but it's merely a layer of flavor and not the predominant one.

07-17-2004, 13:40
This is an interesting question. I understand The Macallan takes a narrow "middle cut", i.e., to avoid as much as possible a feinty taste. Macallan is known also today to use a very low-peated malt. If you take away the sherry, the core is a clean-tasting whisky that is good (based on my tasting of merchants' unsherried Macallans) but quite different from The Macallan. I think Macallan would gain by using malt that is moderately-well peated. The peat would add that extra layer of complexity. Actually, it is possible to taste "peated Macallan". Macallan has issued whisky which employs a higher-than-normal peat spec; these are part of its Decade Series. These whiskies are intended to duplicate what The Macallan of, say, the 1940's tasted like. During the war years Macallan used more peat than it had previously (at least in recent years) because coal was hard to find as a result of requisitioning for war purposes. This 1940's-style Macallan is very good and in my opinion trumps the current 10 and 12 year olds. It can be bought in well-stocked stores, I am sure Sam's or Binnie's carries the Decade Series (covers the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's). I think it was Michael Jackson who has written that at one time, great Speyside whiskies tasted like that, meaning at one time they were rather more peated than is common today.