I like making lists. Nothing OCD. Just helps me channel my thought process. For example if I have a number of people to kill I’ll probably make a list. Deciding who to off first. What weapon of choice to use. You know, the usual shit.
Anyway, the other day I was lounging in my recliner, cigar in one hand and the last of my Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 002 in the other, when I realised I hadn’t made a very important list. That of the sherried whiskies.
And not the usual blasé list that you see so many supposed whisky writers write about. Those who’s only method of research is scouring social media to see what other people are talking about.
I’m talking about a list that’s been put through the paces and means something. My criteria for this collection is simple: The whisky must be tasty as fuck (obviously) and should have spent a majority of it’s life being matured in sherry casks. I mean I could have insisted that it spend it’s entire life in a sherry cask but there’s one on my list which doesn’t meet that criteria and it would be unfair to not include that.
Anyway, it’s my list and I can decide what to put on it. Also I haven’t really looked at price and availability as my criteria, to be honest. Though most of them you can find quite easily and, still, at reasonable prices.
Here they are, in no particular order.
This is the one I was sitting with when I thought of putting this list together. Up to Batch 6 now I got the first batch more than five years ago. It’s without an age statement, which I’m fine with, as long as you don’t charge me an arm and a leg. Matured in a combination of PX and Oloroso casks this one has been blended together at cask strength and bottled at natural color. The ABV varies from batch to batch but expect it to be around the mid-50s which means it still packs quite a bite. I love the sweetness of the PX and the meatiness of the Oloroso. Together they work beautifully. A tiny drop of water will make this one sublime.
You can get this one online for around £56 / US$70
I’m a huge fan of the regular 105 which is roughly half the age of this beauty but served at an equally awe inspiring Cask Strength of 60%. I first had this at one of my clubs’ tastings and immediately went into shock. First the 60% hits you, then the pinging black peppercorns and, once your palate has gone numb in submission, the sweetness of the dark chocolate emerges. This one is not for the faint hearted. You could make a case for a couple of droplets of water but then you miss the sensational feeling of your tongue giving up half way through the dram. For that alone you must try it ‘as is’. Now there’s not a lot of literature on this regarding the type of sherry used to mature this but I will go out on a limb and say Oloroso. Seems the only legit fit here. This one is for the hardened among us.
You can get this one online for around £200 / US$250
The darling of the sherried whiskies. What an absolutely awesome series this is. Sadly I only came into contact with it when it had reached Batch 32 (they’re up to 55 now, I think) and I’ve heard that earlier batches were just insane. Not to say that the later ones aren’t. The 45 is a peach. The 49 is gorgeous. But my favourite is Batch 37 (though to be fair I’ve only tasted around 15 different batches) so there probably is some stellar liquid in earlier bottlings which I’ve not had the pleasure of throwing down my gullet. They come in a short dumpy bottle with a huge red wax seal on top which I love. There’s something old school about that. Also served at cask strength after having spent it’s entire life in Oloroso sherry casks this what you call a sherry monster. A proper sherry monster.
Can be yours for an agreeable £56 / US$70
This is literally the first whisky I bought when I decided I was going to waste away my life and my money on this dastardly habit. I hadn’t even heard of Balvenie but, my word, that bottle and the color of the liquid inside had me transfixed. Released in limited quantities in 2007 it’s been matured it’s entire life in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. How this whisky is not a piece of shit I have no idea given such an enormous length of time in such a strong cask. But I guess that’s the magic of Sir David Stewart. He really knows how to craft his whiskies. And this one is no exception. I still have some of it left after so many years and it’s really held up. They’re not making any more of this so I have it sparingly. There’s a few bottles lying around on sites here and there if you’re interested but be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it. I paid £60 for it a few years ago.
Not easy to find but expect to pay around £300 / US$380 for it.
I must admit I have been extremely lucky in picking up whiskies without really knowing my ass from my elbow. Either 95% of whiskies on shelves were amazing or the whisky Gods had a plan for me. Nevertheless I ended up picking gem after gem with my eyes closed. This expression is one of them. To be completely honest I picked this up because it came in a beautiful presentation box with the shape of the Isle of Mull cut out in it. But it’s the liquid inside that is supreme. Matured in Gonzalez Byass Oloroso sherry casks it has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. You gotta give this one a try. Super.
Not very easy to locate but if you do expect to pay around £120 / US$150 for it.
I have seen a bunch of these so called ‘Best Sherry Whisky’ lists and hardly anyone has this ultimate expression on it. Which confirms my hypotheses that all other lists are shit. I mean how do you not include this marvel of whisky making in your list you sorry buffoons? Made by the LSD popping folks over at Amrut, India, this whisky is called Intermediate for a reason. First matured in ex-bourbon and virgin oak it is then transferred to sherry casks for a fair bit of time before settling back into bourbon casks. Get it? Intermediate. And what is even more amazing about this maturation is that when the spirit is in it’s first phase of maturation it is shipped (cask and all) to Spain where it is transferred to sherry casks and then shipped back to India to complete it’s final two phases of maturation. This prevents the sherry casks from getting contaminated during transport or needing sulphur treatment as is the case with so many sherry casks plaguing the Scotch industry. Proof that if you love the whisky you make you will go through any lengths to make sure to shield it from the evils of the world. Get a bottle of this now and drink it immediately. Then come back to this page and thank me. Profusely.
Easily available for around £85 / US$106
Kilchoman are proof that if you really hone your craft, pick some stellar casks and pluck the spirit out at the right time you can flick a middle finger at age and bottle some amazing whiskies. With an average age of five years across the Kilchoman range it has been producing gem after gem for the last 10 years. In fact it was only late last year that they finally bottled their 10 year old. But enough about that. Let’s talk about the Loch Gorm. It has an average age of 5 to 6 years and has spent it’s entire life in an Oloroso sherry cask. Not sure whether it’s first or second fill but the young age and solid spirit means that it retains it’s integrity without letting the sherry overpower and that’s what makes this a super dram.They release a batch every year in fairly small quantities so snap it up before it disappears.
Can be yours for around £56 / US$70
This was the whisky that changed my life. I had no idea what cask strength meant. I didn’t know where sherry came from. And I thought Macallan was a luxury car. Oh to be young and naive again. Only to feel the thrill of discovering something that blows your mind. That’s what this Macallan did to me. Had at a tasting very many years ago I remember going home thinking ‘Holy Mother of All That Is Sweet & Spicy what was that whisky?’. Matured exclusively in sherry from Jerez it is one of the only Macallans you will find at cask strength. The one I had was 58.6% so to my tender palate it was like being shot in the face with a .44 Magnum. But in a good way. This was the bottle that told me whisky was not for pussies.
Next to impossible to find. If you find one buy it and mail it to me. You’re probably not worthy of drinking it.
I love falling in love. And this whisky did that for me. My first Kavalan and so I didn’t know what to expect. Once again the whisky Gods were looking down on me because I could have picked any Kavalan but instead was served this at my buddies house. It almost knocked me on my ass. One of the more scarce types of sherry Fino is from Spain and is the driest of all the sherries out there. Well, Kavalan thought it would be good idea to mature their young spirit in these barrels and the result is a a luscious dark liquid at 57% which smacks your tastebuds all over your palate. Sublime experience.
Easily available but can set you back £225 / US$280 a bottle
PS – don’t ask me why I didn’t put Glendronach 15 Revival on it, OK? I don’t like that whisky. Sue me.