YOUR CHOICE OF CASK
We carefully select all the casks in our collection to bring you superior choice, flavours and tasting notes that complement our award-winning peated and unpeated spirit. Explore the distinctive characteristics of each cask type below before deciding which one to use for maturing your very own Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
ONCE USED ‘FRESH’ EX-BOURBON BARRELS (200L)
These once-used oak barrels sometimes known as ‘Fresh’ barrels are sourced directly from Kentucky and have only ever been used to mature bourbon, usually for about 4 or 5 years, although sometimes longer. It means the oak is still very active, releasing flavour compounds such as oak lactones, vanilla and tannin, and hemicelluloses rapidly into the maturing spirit contained within.
It’s these very compounds that give bourbon much of its flavour, so it’s not surprising that the maturing spirit inside of these barrels becomes infused with these bourbon/vanilla characteristics. These distinctive flavour notes it very nicely alongside the fruity characteristics of Annandale Distillery’s peated and unpeated spirit. If you’re looking to mature whisky for up to 10 years, then fresh barrels are an ideal choice. Most of Annandale Distillery’s production is filled into fresh barrels, currently sourced from Heaven Hill and Woodford Reserve distilleries. These barrels are routinely available from £3000.
ONCE USED (FRESH), DOUBLE OAKED EX-BOURBON BARRELS
Working closely with our ex-bourbon barrel supplier, we are able to offer a small number casks previously used in the double oaked process. As the name suggests, two different types of oak barrel are used. The first is a regular bourbon barrel that’s toasted and charred in the normal manner. The second barrel is more heavily toasted and then more lightly charred than the former.
This longer toasting allows more of the cask wood sugars to caramelise, giving the whisky extra hints of vanilla, confectionery and sweet notes. When combined with our award-winning peated and unpeated new make malt spirit, this produces beautiful toffee, butterscotch and caramel characteristics superimposed on the sweet, floral and fruity notes that typify Annandale Distillery’s Single Malts. The resulting whiskey is, in our opinion, quite special. These barrels are routinely available from £3800.
SEVERAL TIMES USED (REFILL) EX-BOURBON BARRELS
Sometimes referred to as ‘Refills’, these barrels have been filled with bourbon once and then refilled with another type of whisky. Typically, the second occupant will have been Scotch Whisky. However, at Annandale Distillery we prefer to use barrels filled for a second time with Early Times ‘Old Style Kentucky Whisky’. It’s not called bourbon because U.S. law stipulates that bourbon must be matured in virgin oak casks. Early Times is typically matured for three years so the barrel will have held whisky of one sort or another for at least 6 years… but possibly much longer.
During this time, the oak will have lost some of its potency because it has been extracted by previous occupants. It means the whisky takes longer to mature and less bourbon/vanilla character will be imparted. And it also means the fundamental character of Annandale Distillery is deliciously fruity spirit can shine through. These barrels are ideally suited when a much longer maturation is planned under routine available from £3800.
SHERRY BUTTS (500 LITRES)
In the past, Sherry was matured in butts and then shipped from Jerez, Spain, to various countries including Scotland. Once emptied, these butts were either returned or used for other purposes such as maturing Scotch Whisky. In more recent times, Sherry is either bottled at source transported in bulk road tankers. The market for Sherry has also declined greatly. As a consequence, there is now a shortage of genuine ‘old’ Sherry butts. However, the market for sherry wood matured Single Malt is still very buoyant. To overcome the problem, Scottish Whisky producers know by oak (either standing or felled), usually American White Oak, cut it, season it and then ship it to Spain to be coopered into ‘new’ sherry butts. Spanish Oak and French Oak are also used. The virgin oak butts are then conditioned with Sherry for years and then shipped off to Scotland to be filled, repeatedly, with the spirit that matures into Scotch Whisky.
At Annandale Distillery we initially filled a small number of ‘old’ Sherry butts. Our 2015 Vintage Range is a perfect example. However, as ‘old’ Sherry butts of known provenance are now very difficult to obtain we switched to ‘new’ virgin oak butts in mid-2017. Although it’s early days, we seemed to have fantastic sherry-matured whisky in the making. Sherry extracted from the staves imparts rich winey, dried/dark/brown fruit character to the maturing spirit. Extracants from the virgin oak also add sweet/vanilla character which is offset by tannic astringency. Sherry matured Single Malts are characteristically dark in colour. These Sherry butts are available as a special order from £10,800.
STRS (SHAVE, TOASTED, AND RE-CHARRED) (~230 LITRES)
STRS are essentially at rejuvenated red wine casks. First of all, the inside surface of the individual oak staves is shaved to remove the exhausted surface layer. The shaved staves are then toasted in an oven, which particularly breaks down the structural components of the oak to produce a variety of flavour compounds. It also increases surface permeability. Finally, the inside surface of the reassembled cask is re-charred. This induces further degradation of the oak structure, facilitating easier and deeper penetration of the malt spirit. Charring also produces essential flavour components while increasing the surface area available to absorb unwanted flavour components such as sulphur compounds.
STR rejuvenation of red wine casks was pioneered by the late DrJ im Swan, and it was Jim who introduced STRs into Kavalan Distillery in Taiwan, Kavalan Solist Vinho Barriuque, which is matured in STR’s was named the “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” in the 2012 World Whisky Awards. In our experience, it produces deliciously and characteristically fruity whisky. These casks are available as a special order from £5400.
At Annandale Distillery, we are always on the lookout for interesting and different casks of known province. These typically include red wine, cognac and tequila casks, amongst others. If you would like to discuss all the cask types we have available, please speak to our professional team who will be happy to advise.