Sherry cask whiskies: 7 of the best

If you read the article we wrote about chill-filtration a few weeks ago, you’ll know that in a blind test of bona fide whisky buffs, whiskies that had been aged in a sherry cask were consistently ranked higher than their non-sherry-cask counterparts.

And it’s not surprising – the time spent ageing in a sherry cask seems to bring out the very best in the whisky. It makes them richer, gives them a much deeper and fuller flavour and adds a nice fruitiness to the nose and palate.

Don’t take our word for it though. Why not treat yourself to one of these sherry cask whiskies and see for yourself?

Bunnahabhain 35 Year (Rest & Be Thankful, 1980)

Bottled by Rest & Be Thankful, one of the most exciting independent bottlers around at the moment, this Islay single malt was distilled on December 5th 1980 and then matured for 35 years in sherry casks. The special vatting of two casks was bottled at natural strength of 40.2% and yielded 510 bottles.

If you’re a fan of sherry cask whiskies that have a fruity nose, a cherry palate and an oaky, sweet sherry finish, then you’re in luck – this Rest & Be Thankful bottling is all of that and much more.

Ardbeg 25 Year (Signatory, 1991)

In October 2016, Signatory finally bottled a stunning single cask Ardbeg after it had aged for 25 years in a refill sherry hogshead.

Like most whisky from Ardbeg, this Signatory bottling is peaty and rich with hints of the sherry sweetness on the palate. And – as it only yielded 279 bottles – this is fast becoming a collector’s piece, so act quickly if you want to add it to your collection.

Macallan 30-Year-Old Sherry Oak

Matured in Oloroso Sherry Casks from Jerez, this 30-year-old Macallan is quite a whisky.

Starting with a huge hit of the Oloroso sherry, the distinct intensity and full palate of a Macallan follows shortly after with hints of honey, building to a fruity, chocolatey finish. One of the truly sublime sherry cask whiskies.

Glenlivet 20 Year Sherry Cask (Signatory, 1995)

Distilled in 1995 at Glenlivet and then aged for another two decades in a sherry cask by Signatory, this whisky was finally bottled in 2016.

A stunning expression of Glenlivet, this Signatory bottling starts with fruit and chocolate on the nose and ends with a nice oaky, sweet sherry finish. On the palate, there’s a mix of nuts, toffees and wintery warmth.

We could go on, but there just aren’t the words. We can’t say enough good things about this whisky.

Glenrothes 18 Year Sherry Finish (Wilson & Morgan, 1997)

Using the classic pairing of Glenrothes and sherry, Wilson and Morgan emphasised the sherry notes by using a fresh Oloroso cask for the last four years of maturation.
As a result, there are strong hits of sherry with hints of peaches and nuts on the nose and palate. That then leads to a fruity finish (rather than the more common chocolatey notes you’d expect from a sherry cask) for a decided crisp final note.

As always, Wilson and Morgan knocked it out of the park with this bottling.

Caol Ila 19 Year Sherry Cask (Kingsbury, 1996)

Distilled at Caol Ila in 1996 and then aged in a sherry hogshead for a further 19 years by Kingsbury, this 55.30% cask strength bottling is quite something. The iconic taste of the Caol Ila whisky meets with a sherry sweetness that’s emphasised by Kingsbury’s decision to bottle it at cask strength with no chill-filtering and no added colour.

Only 242 were produced, so snap them up while you can.

Glenlivet 45 Year (Gordon & MacPhail, 1967)

Distilled in 1967 at Glenlivet and then aged for 45 years in a sherry cask by Gordon & MacPhail, this limited release is a real treat.

This is another one of those whiskies that words just can’t do justice, but if we had to describe the experience, we’d say that the nose has a classic sherry character with hints of fruit, nuts and liquorice that carry through onto the palate where chocolate notes are introduced to the mix. Finally, the fruit warms into an almost Christmassy winter spice.

This is independent bottling at its best – an incredibly complex, impressively aged and a celebration of everything that is great about whisky.
However, if you’d like to get your hands on a bottle, act fast – you can normally only find them in auction rooms.

Have you got a favourite sherry cask whisky? Or do you prefer your whisky aged in a bourbon cask? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Preference Center

Close your account?

Your account will be closed and all data will be permanently deleted and cannot be recovered. Are you sure?