Now, I love a whisky that's been matured or finished in ex-wine casks - when it's done properly. It seems to be very hit-and-miss. Many do a great job of balancing the previous cask contents with their maturing spirit, but some of them just don't do it for me. They can be too astringent, flat, or a bit "cardboardy"
But when it's done well, the impact, influence, and result are a real treat for the tastebuds.
Part of Milk & Honey's "Elements" range, this Red Wine Cask release nudges the door open a bit more and shows us what the distillery can do with the types of casks that once held that glorious boozy grape juice.
The ex-red wine casks have (as I understand), been sourced from their home ground of Israel from local wineries. And let's not forget, Israel has been producing wine for around 5000 years. That's FIVE THOUSAND years. So to say they know a bit about wine creation is an understatement. It's quite humbling, in fact.
See the link at the bottom of this review about the history of Israeli wine if you want to read more about it.
Appearance: Golden amber. Thin & fast oily legs
Nose: Honey, banana skins, baked apple (that my Mum used to make), peanut brittle (that my Mum used to give me as a treat), red berries (that would sometimes appear in my Mum's trifle). The overall character is fruity & light with a gentle note of wood.
Palate: Sweet and sour have a bit of a dance on the tongue. It's then joined by some oakiness, nuts, vanilla, and some fruit. Burnt toffee also appears with a gentle pepper tingle on the back of the tongue. There's a light oiliness to the body of the whisky that carries with it more notes of wine.
Finish: Medium with hints of coconut and caramel. The mouth is left with a light oily coating and warming mild pepper. There are most definitely familiar notes of STR (shaved, toasted, and re-charred), wine casks here.
Conclusion: Sweet & dry with a really lovely ex-wine influence. Could this be the brilliant late Dr. Jim Swan's legacy at play here?
Available for around £45-£55 (at the time of writing)
Read more about the Milk & Honey Distillery here
Read more about the history of wine from Israel here