7 Cask Types Used To Finish Whisky

Need a cheat sheet for the different types of casks used to finish whisky? This guide covers the seven main categories. You’ll be tasting the difference between port and sherry finishes in no time!

WOOD FINISH

Common Cask Name: Barrel

Wood: Virgin American oak, Irish oak, Japanese oak, etc.

Volume: Usually 200 – 500 liters, though quarter casks are 80 liters

Comes from: Country of origin

Typical flavors: Spice, vanilla, sweet oak

Get tasting: Midleton Dair Ghaelach, Octomore 7.4, Arran The Bothy Quarter Cask

WINE FINISH

Common Cask Name: Barrel or barrique

Wood: Typically French oak

Volume: Up to 220 liters

Comes from: Local to each wine region, e.g. Bordeaux, France

Typical flavors: Varies according to wine. Sauternes has notes of fresh bread, tart au citron, and crème caramel. Bordeaux gives red berry, cherry, and plum.

Get tasting: Glenmorangie Quarter Century, Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19 year old Red Wine Cask Finish, Glenmorangie Pride 1981

PORT FINISH

Common Cask Name: Pipe or barrique

Wood: Usually French oak

Volume: Up to 600 liters for a port pipe, up to 220 liters for a port barrique

Comes from: Portugal

Typical flavors: Berry fruits, red currant, sultana

Get tasting: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, Angel’s Envy Port Barrel Finish, Laphroaig Brodir, Balvenie PortWood 21 year old.

SHERRY FINISH

Common Cask Name: Butt or puncheon

Types: Pedro Ximénez, oloroso, amontillado, fino, manzanilla, etc.

Wood: European or American oak

Volume: Up to 500 liters

Comes from: Jerez, Spain

Typical flavors: Dates, walnut, sultana

Get tasting: Balvenie DoubleWood, Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Glenmorangie Lasanta

MADEIRA FINISH

Common Cask Name: Drum

Wood: Portuguese oak

Volume: Up to 650 liters

Comes from: Portugal

Typical flavors: Sweet fruits, figs, spice,

Get tasting: Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016, Tyrconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish

RUM FINISH

Common Cask Name: Puncheon

Wood: American oak

Volume: Up to 500 liters

Comes from: Caribbean

Typical flavors: Molasses, vanilla, tropical fruits

Get tasting: Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask Finish, Angel’s Envy Rum Cask Finish

BEER FINISH

Common Cask Name: Barrel

Wood: American oak

Volume: Up to 200 liters

Comes from: Usually a local brewery

Typical flavors: Sweetness, malt, creamy

Get tasting: Glenfiddich IPA Experiment, Jameson Caskmates, Mackmyra Vinterrök

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