The Finishing Touch

The idea behind this tasting was to try taste six whiskies all of which had undergone a period of finishing in a different type of cask from its initial maturation. Nine different cask finish possibilities were given and, as each whisky was tasted blind, tasters were asked to deduce the cask finish before the big reveal.

Cask finishing is now commonplace in the whisky industry despite only really starting off about 20 years ago. The cynics amongst us (and I include myself here) may well argue that, in some circumstances, its sole purpose is to hide the flaws of a not particularly good whisky. Others may cite the eagerness of those who wish to be innovative and creative as the motivation behind these cask finish expressions.

Some of the drams we tasted hit the mark; others were miles off it. The lineup in the order of tasting was:-

1) Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Rum Cask Finish – 40.8% – £29.95 (50cl)

2) Inchmurrin Madeira Wood Finish – NAS – 46% – £51.95

3) Deanston Virgin Oak – NAS – 46.3% – £36.50

4) Tomatin 14 yrs Port Cask – 46% – £56.95

5) Redbreast Lustau – 46% – £46.95

6) Ledaig 13 yrs Amontillado Finish – 59.2% – £69.95

The best ‘nosing note’ of the evening came from (veterinarian) Ashleigh re the Ledaig. Apparently it smells just like goat shit! However, the biggest stinker of the evening was the Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Rum Cask Finish. Coming in at £29.95 for a 50cl bottle – making a 70cl equivalent of £41.93 – it represents pretty poor value for money for something which smells like nail varnish remover.

Well done to Shona for correctly recognising the Deanston Virgin Oak; an easygoing dram at an easygoing price. The Tomatin and Redbreast expressions went down well but the Inchmurrin Madeira and the Ledaig Amontillado were the winners on the night.

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