the whisky lounge - a journal tracking a whisky maturation project involving a newly-acquired oak cask and a significant amount of patience

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Ides of Sherry

Apologies for the cheesy title, but I wanted something more creative than "The Sherry's taste and bouquet after fifteen days." If you have no idea what the title means, then read your Shakespeare.

Anyhow, have a look:

Notice anything?

Neither do I. Don't worry.

The sherry has not noticeably changed in appearance over the 15 days it's been in the cask. I suspect there's either a bit of caramel action going on, or that there comes a point where a cask will no longer affect the colour of its contents. This sherry started a lot darker than the water, which is the only other thing I've put in the cask yet, and maybe it can't get any darker.

Now, on to the important parts. First, the nose. It's a lot like last time, actually: smoky without being overly carbonized; fruity without being acidic. It smells rather cedar-like, actually. Had I a cedar plank and decided to rub some berries or cherries on it, it would smell like this, I think.

The taste is woodier than last time. The smoke and char is still there, but there's a sense of clean oak coming through, particularly on the finish. Remember how I said that the oak smelled like wine when I first poured hot water into the cask? That flavour is just beginning to come through in the sherry. It's a lost less bold than the raw sherry now, but in a very nice way. It's far more subdued, but it lingers. A caress rather than a slap. It's warming, with the acidity cut right down. There's a depth of flavour that the raw spirit clearly lacks. For the first time, I definitely prefer the aged sherry to the raw.

Right now, it's very tasty - far more palatable than the first five days, and more well-rounded than it was after ten. The most noticeable difference is the finish - it's longer, with the smoky cooked fruit giving way to oak then fading to rich honeyed fruit.

Overall, I think the sherry might have reached close to its optimum oaking time. The changes are much subtler than the first two trials, and the effects are along the lines of improved integration, again, with the wood elements coalescing with the smoke, fruit and honey, and a much-improved finish. I think I'll leave the sherry in the cask for just another couple of days, and get started on the whisky this weekend.

See you then,


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