Here’s an interesting variant from Tullamore D.E.W.: Cider Cask Finish, now available in the U.S. on a seasonal basis (in and around the fall — sorry, we’re a bit late with the writeup). Previously available in Ireland and Travel Retail, the D.E.W. folks say this is “the first whiskey to be finished in hard apple cider casks.” Seems impossible, but who really knows?
To produce Cider Cask, Tullamore D.E.W. small-batch ferments fresh-pressed Irish apple juice into cider in oak casks, before refilling the casks with its signature Irish whiskey. “As the cider ferments, the tart yet sweet notes infuse the bourbon casks, creating a layered complexity of nose and taste in the finished whiskey,” notes John Quinn, Global Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W.
The whiskey spends about three months in the finishing cask before bottling.
The results are pretty interesting.
For starters, the expected: Apples, and plenty of ’em. The nose has an applejack quality to it, lightly astringent with some hospital notes, a bit of dark chocolate, brown sugar, and a vague savory character lurking in the background. On the palate, the apples burst fully to life on the palate, starting with a rush of Red Delicious and slowly fading into more brown sugar plus a sprinkle of apple pie spices. As the finish builds, it’s malty and a bit doughy, but the spice element builds further, offering both cinnamon and a little red pepper. Give it some time to open up in glass and the fruit elements pop even more clearly.
Tullamore D.E.W. is consistently underrated, particularly in its special edition and age statemented whiskeys. Cider Cask is one of its more unusual — and particularly worthwhile — recent releases.