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Closing Off - Wine Cask Whiskies Session 1, 2016

Author: Matt Wooler - Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Thanks for attending

On saturday 30th July we feel we brought something special to The Hills in whisky with our master class focusing on Wine Cask Whiskies at Crooked Tailor bar. An amazing experience of sweet finishes, juicy rounded flavours, and finely balanced oaks. We think this may have even been a first for Sydney in public tastings for this category also but happy to stand corrected. Either way we will be holding one of these again in the future as tickets sold out weeks before we even sat down.

Wine Casks are something special many are seemingly overlooking as they chase the unicorn of richer and richer sherry finishes. As sherry in consumed less, the price of barrels sky rockets and demand by producers explodes it is wine casks that will more than likely become the mainstay globally. Wine casks are not only cheap but bountiful in flavour while delivering much more delicate higher notes. That is to say, at least in current OB releases in the market, except for maybe a love of ours the independent bottler Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Find out more about SMWS and how to become a member on our recent article: Road Test - Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

As wine casks were the call of the day we started our event, as always, with a welcome beverage. In order to shakes things up a little, instead of our welcome whisky cocktail, we decided to make up a batch of mulled wine as a winter warmer. It is fair to say we filled the rooms of Crooked Tailor with a beautiful scent of spices, apples and wine that made for an enticing atmosphere. We miss the days of mulled wine being an option at bars during winter and it reminds me of travels to the snow fields. This recipe is a development of our own so keep on reading to get the recipe and make it at home.

As the crowd gathered the time was high for us to get the party started. Guests found their seats and we launched into an array of whiskies from Australia, Scotland and Ireland. Some whiskies were finished in wine casks while others saw exclusive maturation. While most whiskies were official bottling’s a couple were as rare as hens teeth with one more than likely never to be seen again. On the whisky shot list was Glenmorangie Milsean, Teeling Single Grain, Starward Wine Cask Edition 3, Glenfiddich 19 Years Old Age Of Discovery Wine Cask Finish, SMWS 72.47 “Burnt Spotted Dick”.

Food profiles were also mixed up for this tasting as we created sensory plates lined with dried cranberries, vanilla pods, chupa chup lolly pops, cinnamon donuts and candy crusted chocolate. Some old classics like cheddar, mozzarella cheese and dry crackers also helped to break up the whiskies between tasting.

It is impossible to say what was the favourite for the day as it seemed everyone was chopping and changing as we tasted down the line. These events though are never about favourites though and we hope that each guest finds styles and tastes the are new and intriguing for them.

To get the full visual experience of the evening we have an album over on our facebook page.

Anyone who has attended this event or a past Dramnation event is eligible to enter our Guest Pass Giveaway to Whisky Fair in August. Find out more here and be sure to enter.

Get out and start exploring Wine Cask Whiskies and celebrate them for what they are. No they are not the same as Sherry or Port cask whiskies though they are close first cousins.

We want to thank those return guests we have seen at previous events while yet again seeing a room half full of fresh new faces.

See you at our next event.


Whiskies Tasted

Following are Dramnation's personal notes we supply at our tastings. We want to emphasis that we have listed, in many cases, ages for these whiskies even though they do not carry an age statement. This indication is an average only as a means to show how youthful whiskies display strengths and characteristics longer aged whiskies cannot. It is to be expected that these average ages will vary from batch to batch and year to year.

Gelnmorangie Milsean

Distillery: Glenmorangie Distillery
Region: Tain, Scotland
ABV: 46%
Age: 12.5 Years (Approx)
Wood: Ex-bourbon then retoasted wine cask finish for 2.5 years
Nose: Mint boiled lollies, strawberries, apples and fairy floss while being a wee bit salty.
Taste: Light & high in the palate while not being as sweet as would be expected. Plenty of blackcurrant juice and toasted oak.
Finish: Quickly drying to deliver a sherbet like tingle to the tongue.
Other: Designed to be sweet and alternate to the core Glenmorangie. Dr Bill Lumsden is an eccentric when it comes to playing with casks.

Teeling Single Grain

Distillery: Teeling Distillery
Region: Dublin, Ireland
ABV: 46%
Age: NA
Wood: Ex-bourbon and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon
Nose: Light coffee, raspberries, creamy vanillas & spice mingling to make fresh liqueur chocolate.
Taste: Soft rounded mouth feel that gets spicy with exciting mixed berry and vanilla ice cream.
Finish: High cardboard dryness with a medium heat that causes palate salivation.
Other: At this time all stocks released by Teeling have been produced at Cooley Distillery. Does contain up to 10% malted barley.

Starward Wine Cask Batch 3

Distillery: New World Whisky Distillery
Region: Melbourne, Australia 
ABV: 41%
Age: 3.5+ Years (approx)
Wood: Australian Wine (primarily Shiraz)
Nose: Grapes, bananas, a freshly open packet of raisins, orange peel & malty cereals.
Taste: Mouth filling with an oily viscosity developing notes of dark chocolate, golden syrup & dry fruits.
Finish: Long, chalky & dry with continued hints of the golden syrup.
Other: Unlike the Aprea casks used in the Starward Solera which are recoopered costing aorund $600, the wine casks stay as supplied lowering barrel prices to around $150.

Hellyers Road Pinot Noir Finish

Distillery: Hellyers Road
Region: Tasmania, Australia
ABV: 46.2%
Age: 11 years (approx)
Wood: Ex-bourbon + 11 months (approx) Aus Pinot Noir Wine Cask
Nose: A tantalising mix of creamy honey cereals, malt biscuits, rich oaks, and orange tea cake with some tomato vine prickle in the background.
Taste: Malt biscuits are prevalent, caramelised edges of the orange tea cake, citrus zest & rich spice.
Finish: Long and zesty with a invigorating spice flare.
Other: The wine cask is a very different beast to other Hellyers Road releases. A great example of how a finish can change a whisky so much.

Glenfiddich Age Of Discovery Wine Cask 19 Year Old

Distillery: Glenfiddich Distillery
Region: Speyside, Scotland
ABV: 40%
Age: 19 Years Old
Wood: Ex-bourbon + South American Wine Cask
Nose: Delicious sweet stewed pears, cinnamon, caramel toffee, dark cherries, wood polish & a fine oak maturity.
Taste: So velvety in the mouth with jam donuts, dark chocolate, cherries, coffee grain, fine oak spice.
Finish: Long & drying with a real finesse to the character as the oak spice continues to build in the mouth.
Other: Casks used for finishing are Malbec, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon. Only available through travel retail, it is becoming rare to find.

SMWS 72.47 Burnt Spotted Dick, Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Distillery: Miltonduff Distillery
Region: Speyside, Scotland
ABV: 59.7%
Age: 10 Years Old
Wood: 1st Fill White Wine Hogshead
Nose: Toffee, candy canes, maple syrup & pancakes with elements of liquorice.
Taste: Assertive & heavily boxed up. Adding water & allowing to unpack delivers salt textures, caramel fudge, fruit & nut chocolate.
Finish: Long and warming while being a bit waxy and oily. A flavour bomb that keeps on giving.
Other: Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is an independent bottler that only releases Cask Strength Single Cask Non-Chill Filtered Whisky often at no more than 250 bottles world wide. The Society bottle numbering relates to the order of the distillery & the cask number as it has been released. Miltonduff is the 72nd distillery the SMWS has purchased from, while the second number is the 47th barrel bottled from that distillery. 

Introduction Beverage

Mulled Wine

x1 Bottle red wine - A soft red like a merlot is good
x4 cups apple cider - This replaces using sugar
x1 Orange (juiced) + keep 1/4 the skin for the pot or used slices
1/4 cup Honey
x4 Cloves
x2 Cinnamon sticks
x3 Star Anise


Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to boil. Once it starts to boil reduce to a low simmer for at least 10 minutes to allow spices to combine. Serve hot from the pot and garnish with a floating star anise or a stick of cinnamon.

This mulled wine can be left on heat with the lid on for a good time after cooking is complete. Remove the orange skin if left to simmer or it will make the wine bitter. Consider doing the same for the spices if it gets too strong. Remember the longer it simmers the more alcohol is cooked off.

Glass: Tumbler

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