Whisky Club August 2021: Heavy Char Sherry (55% abv)
This August’s whisky club release sits outside of the classic Old Kempton Style, AND is delicious and a great example of a very important aspect of our casks – the toast and char.
The primary cask used for this release is a 50L Sherry Cask that was laid down in December 2016 and treated with a heavy toast and a heavy++ char as part of the coopering process. This is a lot heavier toast and char program than that usually used by Old Kempton, and the charred oak characteristics is clearly present on the palate and finish of this release. This sherry cask provided us with a beautifully balanced sweetness and spice, however, we found that the heavy char had stripped away some of the finish that we would usually expect of our whisky. We have therefore married the sherry cask with a small amount of the oldest Pinot cask in our bond store (RD055 which was laid down I April 2015) – this cask has contributed berry and fruit elements that provide a fantastic balance and complexity to this whisky.
Aroma: A complex and beautiful nose. Stone fruit, mixed berry, pear juice, malt, and oak char.
Palate: Long and rich with very nice balance. Cut dry grass, malt, oak char, and spices.
Finish: Excellent warm and spicy sherry dominant finish with lovely char notes. The balance between the sweetness and char gives a long and lingering finish that keeps developing. Great interesting and unique whisky.
A bit more about toasting and charring……
The toasting of the cask is usually done by sitting the partially built cask over a brazier for 30-45 minutes. This toasting of oak breaks down compounds in the oak like hemicellulose, lignin, and cellulose and, if there is residual fortified still in the wood, can create a fortified toffee like layer that imparts some intense and delicious flavour into the final whisky – although too much of this fortified wine toffee leads to an astringent and one dimensional whisky. The break down of these compounds makes them more soluble so that the flavours produced (vanilla, nuts, caramel, spice) can be more readily integrated into the whisky.
The charring element is usually added at the end of the charring process by spraying compressed air onto the brazier, increasing the heat, and charring the inside of the cask. Depending on the distillery style you can select everything from light to heavy+ or ‘alligator skin’ char. The charcoal layer acts as a filter which picks out heavier congeners in the whisky spirit. These congeners are part of what gives whisky its flavour, but are made up of good and bad flavour – so matching the style of spirit to the char of the cask is critical to getting the most out of your maturation.
If you haven’t join Old Kempton’s Whisky Club yet there is still time – you have until the 2nd week of August to head over to our website – www.oldkemptondistillery.com.au/whisky-club/ and join. There are 100 bottles only and your name is selected at random as part of the ballot system. Please make sure you read the Terms & conditions before joining! You will have the chance to double up or opt out once the email goes out in the 2nd week of August for 4 days only, all names selected are final.
More details on the release, photos and distillers notes will be released over the next few weeks – keep an eye on your email and our social media.
See you soon,
The OKD Team.