Whisky Magazine Issue 92
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Ed Bates is a freelance whisky writer, taster and industry commentator. He has worked for various spirit companie including independent bottlers Berry Bros & Rudd
Finishing. Ask the question, light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance.
There are few subjects more likely to get Whisky nuts around the world animated and vociferously putting their contrary points of view (We can discuss the relative merits of E150 and chill-filtering later!). Should one finish, or should one not?
The practice of almost maturing a Whisky in one type of cask and then finishing the job in something completely different has been dividing Whisky drinkers for years. The practice has its supporters and its detractors. The supporters, the fans of Glenmorangie, Bruichladdich, Dalmore, Balvenie et al, would say that the second cask brings something new to the party, another facet, adding complexity.
The detractors would say that the practice is more like that of an affair in a marriage and rather than adding a new element to the flavour profile, it merely obscures the true flavour balance of the body of spirit and it's original cask.
Just to make things a little more complicated there is of course a third opinion set. At this point I feel that I should declare an interest, as this is where I find myself. So the following will be completely subjective. In my opinion the most important thing for any distillery or brand owner, is a strong identity. When you get any bottle of Ardbeg, Glenrothes, Caol Ila, you have a pretty good idea of the sort of flavours, before the first drop of whisky has even touched the rim of your favourite Glencairn. This sens...