Review: Chattanooga Whiskey Silver Oak Cabernet Cask Finished Malt Whiskey

Review: Chattanooga Whiskey Silver Oak Cabernet Cask Finished Malt Whiskey

Chattanooga Whiskey Cabernet Finish

For those following craft distilling’s growth in the United States, Chattanooga Whiskey is no stranger. As the distillery approaches their 12th anniversary — and with more of their in-house distillate coming of age — they continue to pump out releases that bend contentions on blending and cask finishes.

One of their latest whiskeys is a blend of malt mashbills finished in Silver Oak Cabernet casks. It’s the third in their limited release “Finishing Series,” which are all Tennessee-distilled malt whiskey finished in different types of casks.

(Note that this differs somewhat from their “Experimental Single Batch Series,” which are distillery exclusives features a greater variety of grain mashbills and finishes.)

This particular expression features five single malt mashbills — according to the brand, “each containing a range of toasted, roasted, and caramel malts” — aged longer than four years, which includes an 18+ month finish in the Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon casks. The resulting batch was bottled at 95 proof. Let’s dive in.

On the nose, there’s a telltale note of malt, and also some rich dark fruit leaning heavily toward blackberry. I also get toasted nuts (in this case pecans) and vanilla extract right behind. It’s rich, sweet, and borderline decadent. Wait a couple minutes, and spice comes in stronger, with a noticeable — and dare I say, captivating — interplay between sweet/fruity and spicy. There’s also just a touch of smoke that creeps up at the very end, like you walked onto a campground an hour after the last fire pit had been extinguished. The brand is attempting to marry malt whiskey and wine finishing, and to this point, they succeed in creating a nice interplay between prominent elements of the two.

While fruit hits early on the nose, it’s much more subdued on the first sip, with caramelized and toasted notes from the malt taking center stage. It’s just the tiniest bit jarring compared to the nose, and that lovely blackberry note isn’t abundantly present at first. However, it does come out more and more in subsequent sips, enough that I found I reached back for the glass to really revisit that particular profile. Toasted pecans, vanilla, and honey are also present here and give way to caramelized banana toward the back of the tongue. This gets much sweeter with each subsequent sip until finally that dark fruit — again, blackberry — makes its way into the conversation.

On the finish, the smokiness makes itself much more known, along with spice — almost like a rye whiskey! There’s also a lingering coffee note, just a tiny bit bitter but (mostly) balanced with residual sweetness on the palate. The finish has some good length, and multiple layers of flavoring stay present for a long while.

I’m not sure how much wine influence is present at the end, which is a slight letdown given the prominent finishing interplay on the nose. Still, overpowering wine finishes are a far-too-common occurrence in American whiskey these days, so there’s something (maybe a lot) to be said for taking a more subtle approach.

Overall, this is a fun, layered blend of single malt mashbills. Though the wine influence isn’t super consistent throughout, I admire Chattanooga Whiskey’s restraint in not finishing to the point of losing the whiskey for the wine. My main criticism is toward the finish, which has a touch too much bitterness that holds it back from punching up even more in scoring.

Chattanooga Whiskey’s Finishing Series is available both at the distillery and in broad distribution.

95 proof.

A- / $60 /

Chattanooga Whiskey Silver Oak Cabernet Cask Finished Malt Whiskey




David Tao is a writer for Drinkhacker.

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