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Nov 17, 2008 01:05 PM

Cask-enhanced Single Malts: Your thoughts?

My husband LOVES Scotch.

His birthday & the holidays are fast approaching and I've seen some intriguing possibilities combining high-end wine and other spirits casks & Scotch: Sauternes, Cote du Rhone Syrah & Bourbon, Rum, etc.

Has anyone tried the Glenmorange Necta D'Or?
1990 Macallan 17 yr Cask Strength Murray McDavid Mission Gold Haut Brion Cask?
1993 Mortach 12 yr old Murray McDavid Bourbon/Guigal Cote du Rhone Syrah Cask?
1991 Springbank 16 yr. old Rum Cask Cask Strength?

1991 Glenrothes has been the current favorite, but he likes all styles.
I got him a Blackadder bottling of a Caol Ila last year that was amazing, but fairly pricey.
Looking for WOW factor on a more conservative budget this year.

Has anyone tried the 1989 Bruichladdich 18 yr old from Signatory?

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

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  1. You will find many worthwhile suggestions on this prior thread:

    1. It's an impressive list, though I haven't tried any. Given the number of indie bottlings out there, it's tough to find one person who has tried a random selection of them. You may want to check the reviews or forum at Whisky Magazine (

      Not knowing your husband's taste, it's hard to choose from the list, but as a Scotch fan myself, I'd be most interested in the Bruichladdich 18 year old and the Springbank rum cask. As heavily sherried as Macallans and Mortlachs are, I don't think they benefit as much from finishing.

      Personally, though, I think cask finishes are a bit overplayed and the distilleries are now trying to cash in on them. The more exotic sounding the finish, the more they charge. That doesn't mean that there aren't some good whiskies within.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sku

        Yeah, the Bruichladdich & Springbank are the front runners, but the Glenmorangie sounded interesting. There's actually a gift set of 3 I'm eyeing that starts with 10 yrs in Bourbon casks and then finishes in Saurternes, Oloroso Sherry and Ruby Port casks respectively.
        Thanks for the heads-up about Whiskey Magazine, I'll go check it out.

        1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

          Haven't tried the others but have tried the Glenmorangie. Whisky's very personal, but given that he liked the Glenrothes and Caol Ila I would suggest the Nectar d'Or would be too cloying. I myself was not impressed with it. It was an interesting taste, as I was also interested in the Sauternes finish. But the after taste is an odd mix of sweet and salty at the same time. Left me not wanting to finish the glass - which is pretty strange on it's own. Just my two cents. It may work for you.

          1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

            I haven't tried any of them, but the Springbank would probably be my first pick due to the unusual finish and that it's cask strength. I've read about a legendary green Springbank that had been finished in a Demerara rum cask. Think that was a Cadenhead bottling- who's is this? Anyway, I like their distillery bottlings, and I like cask bottlings from independents at cask strength. I think that chilling/filtering/diluting takes something away.

            If you like beer, check out the cask-finished Lee's Harvest Ale varities. Very interesting and much less an investment than a high-end cask finished whisky.

        2. To get off topic here, the good folks @ MurrayMCDavid are now applying the process to good rum as well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MOREKASHA

            MM's rums are great. More in the dry style. I have four different MM rums and they are all very, very good.

            I think using various special casks works better for rum than whiskey. I have some protoypes of rums from my upcoming distillery that will have some fantastic barrels that they are aged in. And not your typical ones or even ones I have heard used before. Expect them in very limited, special editions a year from now in NYC. They have been extremely well received by some of the top spirits and rum experts in the world.

            1. re: JMF

              So, you're making rum? More details please....

              1. re: MOREKASHA

                Drop me an email at info at penbaydis dotcom for more info.

                Basically by next late spring/early summer I will have limited edition, super premium, micro-batch rums, aged fruit brandies, several whiskeys, and gin from my distillery. (I have been protyping my spirits at a friends distillery, using my equipment, as I finish building my distillery. Our brewery was just finished and we start brewing after T'day.)

                The rums will be molasses based, fancy grade and blackstrap, pot distilled, small barrel aged, super premium artisnal distilled in pre-prohibition style direct fired stills and bottled at a slight overproof up to barrel strength. The aging will be in small barrels used first to age ultra-premium, micro-batch whiskey, brandy, vermouth, etc.

                Every part of the process is controlled by me personally. The type of molasses, the type of yeast, the fermentation temperature, the runs through the still, the cut points of the spirit as it comes off the final distillation, the proof it ages at, the aging temperature, the amount of time aged, the final proof, the hand filled bottles, the labels with hand-written batch number, bottle number, and aging barrel description.

                I've even hand-picked the stores, restaurants, and cocktail bars that will have it available..

          2. I know I am not answering your question directly, but every time I see the title of this thread, I cannot help but think:

            -----> Aren't all malts "cask enhanced"??? They are certainly all aged in cask, and that cask has to come from somewhere, doesn't it?

            * * * * *

            OK, having gotten that off my chest, I, too, would skip the Sauternes cask (doesn't fit, trust me). as for the others, it seems to me that The Macallan has built its reputation on being aged in casks from Jerez that were formerly used for aging Oloroso, so aging in a red wine cask seems very "non-Macallan" like.

            Given your husband's preferences as outlined here, I'd opt first for the Springbank, then the Bruichladdich. Third would be The Macallan, and fourth, the Mortlach.

            And certanly, Angela, if you haven't already done so, check out D&M on Filmore in the City . . .

            1 Reply
            1. re: zin1953

              Thanks for all the help getting me past "the shinies" and into something he'll enjoy drinking. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting about D&M. Boy, I wish I could afford their Scotch Club.
              Now THAT would be an awesome gift, but $90-120/month for a year minimum,
              I just can't swing it and pay for the Wine & Sparkling Mead Clubs.

            2. For the most part, single malt is finished in casks that have previously been used by either a sherry or bourbon producer. Thus, even before this trend in other spirits, this was already the case with single malt. Some of specially made single malts, like the Haut Brion-finished Macallan, are finished first for a few years in their usual sort of cask (Macallan is heavily finished in sherry) and then moved to the other sort of cask. These are experiments. Some are fantastic, and some are less so.

              Glen Morangie has done a series of their single malt finished in various types of casks. The sauterne finished was fantastic, but terribly difficult to find, but the Cote de Nuits was less so. Their port wood finished is generally available and quite nice.

              Also, the signatory 18yr bottling of Bruichladdich is very nice.

              Sadly, since single malt has become quite popular, which started in the 1980's, the prices have risen steeply. Now, it's not unusual to see bottles of single malt with age signatures over 25 years and/or special finishes go easily for over $200 each. In the private collectors market, some bottles, like the Black Bowmore (which was a Bowmore that had been aged for so long in its sherry cask that they couldn't use it in the regular bottling because it would have discolored the entire batch), go for over $5000.

              If you are interested in finding a spectacular single malt made in this way that is available on the retail market in the United States, I would check with one of the single malt consultants at Binny's in Chicago. They have one of the largest selections of single malt scotch in the entire country, and a lot of rare bottles that you can't find anywhere else in the country.