Whiskey is an amazing thing. Even if a distiller does the bare minimum required by law, the whiskey can rock your world. Seriously, a bourbon that just barely follows the guidelines to be legally called “bourbon” can be outstanding. So, when a distillery goes above and beyond, like, say finishing their whiskey in sherry casks, the booze can become downright transcendent. Sherry is a fortified wine from Spain, and scotch distilleries have been using old sherry casks to finish their whisky for hundreds of years. The practice is relatively new in the world of American whiskey, but rest assured, regardless of where the whiskey comes from, sherry barrels give the hooch an especially sweet note. A few months in former sherry barrels, and the whiskey becomes even more rich, even fruitier.
I couldn’t give a shit about sherry on its own—I’m just not that refined of a drinker—but tell me a whiskey has been aged in a sherry barrel and I’ll push down my own grandmother to get to the bottle. In that spirit, here are seven different whiskies finished in sherry that you need to seek out now. Grandmothers beware.
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Highland Park Dark Origins
Highland Park has done a couple of different iterations of this whisky, and the latest uses twice as many sherry casks than the previous version, so the sherry influence is even more pronounced, with huge notes of cherries and dark chocolate.
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Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey Sherry Cask Finished
This is a sourced rye, straight from MGP, that's been aged for two years and finished in sherry casks, although it's not clear exactly how much time the rye spent in the ex-sherry barrels. You get a lot of citrus out of this whiskey, along with red wine and caramel. And its an easy-drinking 90 proof.
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Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish
Greenbrier Distillery is having a lot of fun by finishing its bourbon in different casks, taking their Belle Meade Bourbon and finishing it in cognac casks, Madiera casks and this one, which is finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. The bourbon itself is already special, aging for nine years, before it gets the Scotch treatment on the finish. The result is an outstanding success; It won double gold and best special barrel finish bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2015.
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Westland Sherry Wood American Single Malt Whiskey
This is as Scottish as you can get while still being distilled in the states. It's a lightly peated single malt made from 100% barley that gets matured in former Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry barrels. It's incredibly woody, with notes of dark fruit like plums and cherry. It's not for bourbon lovers. It's for lovers of scotch.
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Barrell Whiskey Batch 002
This is another sourced whiskey, but if you've ever had any of Barrell's bottles, you know that they're picking incredible hooch—so good that you probably don't care where it came from. They're not calling it a bourbon, and the spirit was aged in used bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks before being bottled at barrel strength. It comes in at 61.9% ABV. As a result, it's incredibly hot. Put some water or ice in it and you'll find the rich sherry notes as well as butterscotch, which is probably due to the time in used bourbon barrels.
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Hillrock Solera Bourbon
Upstate New York's Hillrock Estate Distillery has a long history with finishing whiskey in different casks, and their Solera Bourbon takes all kinds of weird twists along the way from the distillery to your glass. They do a funky process while the bourbon is aging, where they remove a small portion of whiskey from the barrel occasionally and add new whiskey. Then they keep doing that until it's time to finish the bourbon in 20-year-old Oloroso sherry casks.
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Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask
This is Wyoming Whiskey's first experiment in barrel finishing, taking their five-year-old bourbon and putting it in Pedro Ximenez barrels. They only released 110 cases of the whiskey this past January. But grab it if you can. The whiskey has all kinds of weird (but delicious) fruit notes, from orange peel to figs. This particular spirit proves that Wyoming Whiskey continues to get better and better with every release.