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Owning a cask of high quality Single Malt Scotch Whisky brings pleasure beyond words. It’s not just the whisky, although that’s reason enough, but also the sense of having something that you can own, cherish and share with family, friends and fellow travellers.
Annandale Distillery produces both peated and unpeated spirit which may be filled into a variety of different cask types. Scroll down for full details. Here’s a quick summary of what’s on offer:
- Once used (‘Fresh’) ex-bourbon barrels (~200 litres). These are routinely available (£2580)
- Several times used (‘Refill’) ex-bourbon barrels (~200 litres). Routinely available from 02/20 (£2580)
- Sherry butts (~500 litres) – sherry conditioned virgin oak. Limited availability (£5900)
- STR casks (Shaved, Toasted & Re-charred ex-red wine casks ~230 litres). Special order (£3000)
- Ex-red/white wine casks (~500 litres). Special order (£6380)
- Ex-cognac cask (~270 litres). Special order (£5570)
- Other casks – when available periodically (please ask to be placed on our mailing list)
We also fill owner-supplied casks, subject to certain stringent conditions in terms of storage location and cask type and cask volume. (Price on application.)
We’re delighted and proud that so many Single Malt enthusiasts have already entrusted their future whisky-drinking pleasure to Annandale Distillery.
If you’d like to know more please read on.
Alternatively, you can ask our Cask & Whisky Specialists general or specific questions by clicking on the this button
We produce the very finest peated and unpeated malt spirit, using a production plant and process originally designed by the late, great Dr Jim Swan and skilfully operated by Mark Trainor and his Production Team. The superiority of our spirit is due, in no small part, to our twin spirit stills. This helps to maximise copper contact during final distillation, thereby yielding a smoother, cleaner-tasting spirit that matures into superb Single Malt Scotch Whisky. (If you wish to know more about the effect of copper on spirit, please go to the ‘Technical’ button on our home page and scroll down to the section on Copper.)
So confident are we in the quality of our Malt Spirit that we bottle and sell it, straight from the stills. It’s called Rascally Liquor® and you can buy it online or from the distillery shop (peated or unpeated at 63.5% ABV in 5cl or 20cl bottles or 46% ABV in 50cl bottles).
This is exactly what we fill into all of our casks (at 63.5% ABV), so you can try before you buy!
Our peated Single Malt (Man O’ Sword) won the accolade of ‘Best Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky – 10 years old and under’ and scored an astonishing 96.5/100 in Jim Murray’s 2020 Whisky Bible. Not bad considering the competition and the fact that it was only just over 3 years old when bottled. Jim also gave our unpeated Single Malt (Man O’ Words) a score of 94/100; only to be pipped at the post for the accolade by Man O’ Sword.
For those of you interested in such matters, we buy-in our peated malt at 45ppm phenolics which, we believe, may be equivalent to Caol Ila, although the sensory characteristics of our peated whisky (Man O’ Sword) are very different.
As mentioned above, we fill our spirit into a variety of different cask types:
These are sourced directly from Kentucky. Once-used barrels (sometimes known as ‘Fresh’ barrels) have only ever been used to mature bourbon, usually for about 4 or 5 years, although sometimes longer. This means that the oak from which the barrels are made, is still very active, releasing flavour compounds (e.g. oak lactones, vanillin, tannin, hemicelluloses, etc.) rapidly into the maturing spirit. These are the compounds that give bourbon much of its flavour, so it’s not surprising that Fresh barrels confer bourbon/vanilla character on the maturing spirit. This sits very nicely alongside the fruity characteristics of Annandale’s peated and unpeated spirit.
Fresh barrels are ideal for maturing whisky for up to ~10 years. Most of Annandale’s production is filled into Fresh barrels, currently sourced from Heaven Hill® and Woodford Reserve® distilleries.
Routinely available at (£2580)
Working closely with our ex-bourbon barrel supplier, we are able to offer a small number of casks previously used in the Double Oaked process. As the name suggests, two different types of oak barrel are used: The first is a regular bourbon barrel, that’s toasted and charred in the normal manner. The second barrel is more heavily toasted and then more lightly charred than the former. This longer toasting period allows more of the cask wood sugars to caramelise giving the whisky extra hints of vanilla, confectionery and sweet notes. When combined with our award winning peated and unpeated new make malt spirit, this produces beautiful toffee, butterscotch and caramel characteristics superimposed on the sweet, floral and fruity notes that typify Annandale’s Single Malts. The resulting whisky is, in our opinion, quite special.
Routinely available at (£2880)
Sometimes referred to as ‘Refills’, these barrels have been filled with bourbon once and then refilled with another type of whisky. Typically, the second occupant will have been Scotch Whisky but at Annandale, we prefer to use barrels filled for a second time with Early Times ‘Old Style Kentucky Whisky’®. (Yes – that’s the correct spelling of whisky in this case.) It’s not called bourbon because US law stipulates that bourbon must be matured in virgin oak casks. Early Times is typically matured for 3 years so the barrel will have held whisky of one sort or another for at least 6 years……but possibly much longer. During this time, the oak will have lost some of its potency (extracted by previous occupants). This means that the whisky takes longer to mature, and less bourbon/vanilla character will be imparted, although this will allow the fundamental character of Annandale’s deliciously fruity spirit to shine through. Consequently, refills are ideal when a much longer maturation period is planned.
Routinely available at (£2580)
In the past, sherry was matured in butts and then shipped, also in butts, from Jerez (Spain) to various countries, including Scotland. Once emptied, these butts were either returned to Jerez or used for other purposes. One such ‘other purpose’ was to contain and mature bulk Scotch Whisky. In more recent times, sherry is either bottled at source or transported in bulk road tankers. The market for sherry has also declined greatly. As a consequence, there’s now a shortage of genuine ‘old’ sherry butts. However, as the market for sherry wood matured Single Malts is still very buoyant (e.g. Macallan Sherry Oak), this inevitably created a problem for the Scotch Whisky industry. The solution was for Scotch Whisky producers to buy oak (either standing or felled), usually American White Oak, cut it, season it and then ship it to Spain to be coopered into ‘new’ sherry butts. Spanish Oak and French Oak are also used. The virgin oak butts are then conditioned with sherry (typically oloroso, Pedro Ximénez and sometimes fino) for 2 years and then shipped off to Scotland to be filled, repeatedly, with the spirit that matures into Scotch Whisky.
Annandale Distillery initially filled a small number of ‘old’ sherry butts. (Examples are available to buy in our 2015 Vintage Range - Buy.) However, as ‘old’ sherry butts of known provenance are now very difficult to obtain (and therefore commensurately expensive), we switched to ‘new’ virgin oak butts in mid-2017. Although it’s early days, we seem to have fantastic sherry-matured whisky in the making. Sherry extracted from the staves imparts a rich winey, dried/dark/brown fruit character to the maturing spirit. Extractants from the virgin oak also add sweet/vanilla character which is offset by tannic astringency. Sherry matured Single Malts are characteristically dark in colour.
Available as a special order at (£5900)
These are essentially rejuvenated red wine casks. First of all, the inside surface of the individual oak staves is shaved to remove the exhausted surface layer. The shaved staves are then toasted in an oven, which partially breaks down the structural components of the oak to produce a variety of flavour compounds. It also increases surface permeability. Finally, the inside surface of the reassembled cask is re-charred. This induces further degradation of the oak structure, facilitating easier and deeper penetration of the malt spirit. Charring also produces essential flavour components and increases the surface area available to adsorb various unwanted flavour components such as sulphur compounds.
STR rejuvenation of red wine casks was pioneered by the late Dr Jim Swan, and it was Jim who introduced STRs into Kavalan Distillery in Taiwan. Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique, which is matured in STRs, was named (albeit controversially) the “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” in the 2012 World Whisky Awards. In our experience, it produces deliciously and characteristically fruity whisky.
Available as a special order at (£3000)
At Annandale Distillery, we’re always on the lookout for interesting and different casks of known provenance. These typically include red wine, white wine, cognac and tequila casks, amongst others. If you’d like to be kept informed of our ‘special’ cask availability, please click here.
If we’ve answered all of your questions or otherwise, you’re ready to place an order, please complete the form below.