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The story of cask large

the story of the cask

Apr 4, 2014

For the last hundred years or so the whisky industry has relied heavily on the ex-bourbon casks. Today they account for over 90% of all casks filled in Scotland are truly indispensable in the whisky-making process.

When the ex-bourbon casks were taking Scotland by storm, Knockdhu was still a relatively young distillery. And so from the humble but modern beginnings to the age of anCnoc – the international single malt brand of Knockdhu Distillery – the white American oak barrels and hogsheads have been at the heart of our maturation policy. Our full-bodied, fragrant and fruity spirit condensed in traditional worm tubs loves the ex-bourbon cask and vice versa.

Traditional wooden cask at the distillery

But there is another type of cask we use. Once the backbone of distilling in our part of the world, it's now less popular and often misunderstood. The glorious sherry cask.

Much bigger than the average barrel and hogshead, an ex-sherry butt has the capacity of around 500 litres. Having previously held Spanish fortified wine from Jerez, most sherry casks are not only seasoned with something very different from bourbon but also made from different type of oak and even treated differently in their lifetime. And so unsurprisingly, Scotch whisky matured in those wonderful vessels is quite different from what you may know. The sherry cask influence is often that of dried fruit, spices and chocolate. They also tend to add a lot of weight to the spirit, a dark side as we like to call it. Many whisky drinkers love that taste profile and are willing to pay more for such whiskies, while others find it just a bit too much. There is no right or wrong, it's all a matter of personal taste.

We had all that in mind when creating anCnoc 22 Year Old. It was matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks for that fleeting quality we cherish so much – balance. The leathery, smoky and smoothly tannic manifestation of European casks makes anCnoc 22 Year Old different from our younger offerings but the ex-bourbon core helps it retain the house-style and makes it familiar for even the most devout anCnoc 12 Year Old fan. It's our tribute to the great bodegas of Jerez and above all a rich and luxurious celebration of anCnoc.