How whisky is matured has a significant effect on its character. Anyone with an affection for whisky can typically identify how it has been matured – and the distinctive flavour of a sherry cask whisky is one of the most identifiable flavours.
Most whisky drinkers believe that sherry casks are the casks that bodegas mature their sherry wines. Once the wine has been matured, it is then bottled, and the cask can be shipped to Scotland. Whilst this seems logical, it is, in fact, not the case.
Sherry maturation is not focused on extracting flavour. The maturation casks (typically made of oak) are always old and hence have little flavour left to offer. Whisky matured in a sherry cask will be influenced by the sherry that had been previously infused in the wood. This means that it will interact with the wood of the cask, and while a solera cask may have much concentrated sherry into its staves, the wood itself will affect the flavour.
A sherry cask whisky matured for more than 10 years typically has a very intense flavour and is reminiscent more of a liqueur than a whisky. Typically of a much darker shade than other whiskies, sherry cask whiskies have a sweet flavour that has been described as the flavour of Christmas.
It’s not uncommon for a sherry cask whisky to have a hint of nuttiness, figs, raisins and fruits. These whiskies are also synonymous for being oilier and smoother than their contemporaries and have developed ardent and dedicated devotees across Scotland – and indeed the world.
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