Follow us on social

Essential Journal

  /  Food & Drink   /  Journey of the Cask

Journey of the Cask

The life of the cask is long, rich, and – until recently – relatively thankless. Sukhinder Singh, founder of The Whisky Exchange, invites us to explore the effects of cask maturation in five delicious drams 

words by Will HALBERT

It’s no secret that the humble wooden cask plays a fundamental role in whisky making. Not only does the cask represent the primary source of a whisky’s flavour, it also contributes to its colour, texture and overall character. The choice of cask can gently influence a whisky in just a matter of months or completely transform it over time. With that in mind, Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of world spirit emporium, The Whisky Exchange, takes us on a taste tour of five whiskeys selected especially to celebrate both the subtle charm and wondrous clout of the cask. EJ

Inchmurrin 12 Year Old
American-oak barrels formerly used to mature bourbon are the most popular type of cask used to age whisky, particularly in Scotland. These barrels often introduce sweet flavours of fruit and vanilla. This single malt whisky has been aged in a mixture of casks, including ex-bourbon, bringing a distinctively fruity character to this lighter style of whisky.

Kavalan Concertmaster
This Taiwanese single malt has also been aged in ex-bourbon casks. The difference here comes in the form of a port cask finish. The port wood adds an extra layer of dark-fruit flavour and soft spice without overpowering the whisky, allowing its softer fruity notes to shine.

WhistlePig Amburana 
Cue the curveball. This Whisky Exchange Exclusive perfectly illustrates how drastically a cask can influence a whiskey in a short time. Matured for more than 13 years in new American oak before being finished for just 10 days in a rare amburana cask (more often used for aging cachaça), WhistlePig Amburana has a flavour profile unlike any other whiskey out there, with layers of tonka-bean spice, coconut and tropical fruit. 

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old London Edition
Our fourth whisky – another Whisky Exchange Exclusive, as it happens – positively sings of its Oloroso sherry butt maturation. Glenfarclas is a distillery much-loved by those who enjoy sherried whisky, and the London Edition takes an elegant approach to the method, offering soft notes of fruit cake and spice balanced against the spirit’s orchard fruit character.

Kavalan Vinho Cask
Our final whisky comes in the form of another Kavalan masterpiece.
This Taiwanese gem has been aged in a wine cask, dialing up the rich and fruity flavours you get from the most active of sherry casks. This cask-strength whisky shows how modern day whisky-makers experiment with casks, and exhibits intense vine-fruit character, lingering fruitcake and festive spice notes. A strong finish indeed.