Whisk(e)y How To, Whisk(e)y Wisdom

Drink Wine to Taste Whiskey


Do you enjoy whisk(e)ys “finished” in wine casks? Do you have a favorite finish? Do you prefer Port, Sherry, Sauternes, or Madeira? Can you tell a difference between the finishes? If so, what are they and why do you prefer one over the other? The above barrage of questions is not meant to intimidate. But rather, to show just a glimpse of the depths you can dive with whiskey. The cool part is, whether you’re a puddle splasher or deep sea diver, you can have as much fun with whiskey as the next person. You just have to start.

Where are we starting today? Good question, I’m glad you asked. (no really, that was a perfect lead in to my topic.)

Today we’re going to get our feet wet exploring different wine cask finishes. The concept is simple. The same idea as using a nosing kit. It’s about training your brain – that beautiful pattern recognition machine – to pick out what you tell it to.

How do you do that?

It’s kind of like those old prison movies. The wily star of the show has busted out of jail. To track him down the warden waves a shirt from the escapee under the hound dog’s nose. After a couple whiffs the old hound locks onto the trail. Aroooo Aroo Aroooooooooo and the hunt begins.

In our story the details are a little different but the plot is the same. The star of the show is the wine cask finish. You’re the warden. The hound is your nose and mouth. The shirt is a glass of the same wine as the finish. Are you ready to begin the chase?

Here’s the most difficult part, you need to gather a wine cask finished whiskey and the corresponding wine. For example, you could get a bottle of sherry and a bottle of The Lasanta, Glenmorangie’s sherry cask extra matured whisky. If we were together in person I’d happily pour you some of each. Sadly, that’s not the case, but I hope we do hang out soon and share a dram.

So, you’ve got wine and whiskey in front of you, what now?

I would suggest starting with a sip of whiskey – you need to be introduced to the protagonist after all. Then familiarize the old hound, your nose and mouth, to the scent by exploring the wine. Now go back to the whiskey and let the hunt begin. Will you catch your man? Only you can answer that.

Is this pursuit worth the effort?

LeAnne and I tried it the other day. I don’t want to influence your experience by giving specifics of what we found, but I will say wow. I mean WOW. After completing our little tasting, I feel so much better equipped to identify and analyze wine cask finishes. If you’re bored with skimming the surface and want to dive deeper in your whiskey, I highly recommend this pairing.

It’s a simple idea that yields profound results.

Will you try it?

— Zac Smith

P.S. If you’d like to try a whiskey/wine tasting but don’t have the time to coordinate one, book us for a tasting and invite some friends. We’ll handle the details and running around so all you have to do is show up and enjoy!