Nick Brown wrote:Going back to the generic issue rather than specific cases, I can't help feeling that these finishes are rather akin to adding flavouring - especially if finishes of only a few days can have a marked effect on flavour.
Wouldn't we get just a little concerned if distillers started adding vanilla essence to the whisky to soften the flavour, or rum essence to perk up a bland offering, or smoke flavouring to add a peatiness to an unsuccessful, unpeated whisky? Would we want to go down the Canadian route of allowing x% of a whisky to be something other than Canadian whisky - perhaps not even whisky at all?
There we have one of the fine points of bourbon - it can't be bourbon if there is any additive other than water, and it must be at least 40% ABV. There are additional rules regarding mash composition, distillation proof, and barrel entry proof, not to mention the new charred barrels. (edit) Oh, yeah, I forgot - no caramel color allowed, either!
Other US "straight" whiskies (e.g. straight rye) have similar rules as well.
The only "finished" whisky I've tried so far has been the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, and there, the finishing casks are more like age accelerators than flavor additives. IMHO, it's also superb.
Of course, lots of us, myself included, enjoy whiskies that have been matured in sherry casks - one could argue that the sherry remaining inside the wood is an additive, too... but that doesn't stop me from pouring a dram or two of A'Bunadh.
Of course, that isn't really a "finish," unlike the Aberlour 15 that I haven't tried yet.