Friday, March 25, 2016

Double Barrel wine, aged in used whiskey barrels

Wine, it turns out, can be bi-curious. Australia's Jacob's Creek winery is making wine aged in whiskey barrels, and not just a few bottles either: 45,000 cases total of three varieties.

While it seems like a stunt for the U.S. millennial market -- every year, the Wine Market Council shows a slide of spirits hybrids (like Malibu Red rum/tequila) that appeal to young adventure seekers -- most Jacob's Creek Double Barrel is being sold domestically Down Under. Right now Jacob's Creek is only bringing in to the U.S. 1000 cases of two types, an Irish Whiskey-aged Cabernet and a Scotch-aged Shiraz.

They don't taste like one expects: they don't taste like whiskey, nor do they taste strongly of oak-added flavors like vanilla or coconut, despite the "Double Barrel" production method. In part, this is because the barrels are "very used" when Jacob's Creek gets them from other members of the Pernod Ricard portfolio like Chivas and Jameson, says chief winemaker Ben Bryant.

"The barrels are falling apart when we receive them," Bryant says. "We have to knock them back together."

But the Cab at least smells ... unusual.


Ben Bryant
Jacob's Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon ($20, 14% alcohol) has a green woodlands note and a spiciness atop the fresh herb of Cabernet. I don't love it on the palate: the top note flavor is interesting, but it's hollow in the middle and hot on the finish. But it is very interesting to smell and I can see ordering it as a cocktail alternative.

I could not detect any aromas or flavors of Scotch in Jacob's Creek Double Barrel Shiraz ($20, 14.8% alcohol). But the impact is there, Bryant says, in the rich mouthfeel. "It basically amplifies the density of the wine," he says. And it is big and voluptuous and juicy: a soft, round fruit bomb that will please fans of the style.

The wines are listed as Australia appellation and nonvintage because of label laws.

Krista Drew, public relations director for Pernod Ricard, said the company plans to sell these wines in restaurants and bars, rather than retail stores.

"We know that millennials are drinking across the gamut," Drew said. "There's no whiskey actually in there. If you can deliver something unusual with that craft nature that everyone is looking at, you have something."

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1 comment:

kschlach said...

Red Fox Cellars in Colorado produces a Bourbon Barrel Merlot, too. When I first heard about it I was quite skeptical. However, I was pleasantly surprised after tasting it. Didn't really get the overt bourbon I was expecting, just really a unique smokiness. This approach is very interesting and I guess can work when done well.