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Issue 124 - The Spanish influence

Whisky Magazine Issue 124
December 2014


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The Spanish influence

José y Miguel Martin and Glenfarclas

Try a handful of whiskies these days and you're more than likely to have a number in that selection which will have spent some time maturing in ex-sherry casks. From Macallan to Glenfarclas, Yamazaki to Jameson, the tradition of using casks which previously held sherry is a long-standing one. But, as whisky manufacturers increase production and need ever more casks, there is talk of supply chain issues, of sherry producers not being able to keep up.

What's key for the whisky maker? Having a strong relationship with a bodega where you can trust the quality of casks coming to you for use in maturing your spirit. It is this relationship I witnessed on a recent visit to José y Miguel Martin (J&MM), a family-owned sherry producer in the dusty hills near Huelva in the south west of Spain, which provides all of the casks for the similarly family-
owned Glenfarclas.

At the factory, tractors of all shapes and sizes queue in the dusty, sun-soaked yard, ready to disgorge their brimming loads of green and white Palomino and Colombard grapes into a juicy and pulpy pit – it's an incredible sight to catch, and one that only happens for around six weeks each autumn.

This contrasts highly with the scene inside the next-door building, the final destination for these grapes. While it is traditional looking farmers driving mismatched tractors that mesmorise bystanders outdoors, indoors it is the 200,000 litre stainless steel fermentation tanks that create awe – the old world and the ne...

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