Once upon a time we lived in a world where you were either a Cognac drinker or a whisky drinker. And never the line be crossed. But in the forward thinking world of today, such a concept seems somewhat strange. Because why on earth would you limit yourself to only a single type of liquid enjoyment? But then, it wasn’t that long ago that the only people who sipped on Cognac were stuffy old men wearing smoking jackets. And never, ever, did you sully said drink with water, ice, or, horror of horrors, that most heinous of drinks, Coca Cola!
But today, thankfully, there are so many different ways in which we can enjoy our spirits. And both Cognac and whisky creators have been experimenting with different methods to bring us innovation, whilst still remaining true to the centuries of tradition behind our favorite drinks. One such way is to complete the aging process in barrels or casks that previously held different spirits. This has led to an increasing amount of whiskies coming to market that have been finished in Cognac barrels – also known as Cognac-finish whisky. It’s an exciting concept, and one that makes for great crossover spirits that’ll appeal to those with a discerning palate.
Hot on the heels of Cognac Expert articles such as, Cognac for Whisky Drinkers, we’ve come up with a list of some of the hottest Scotch and whiskys out there right now, each with a distinctly Cognac-esque twist. With taste profiles that appeal to those who enjoy both spirits, all of the following whiskies are well worth your attention.
After all, there are so many ways in which to explore the exciting world of Cognac. So for the whisky drinker, this is a small step that doesn’t take you away from what might be your first love, but opens up your choice of options even further. And when it comes to enjoying the finer things in life, such as whisky and Cognac, that can only be a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?
So let’s take a closer look at some of the hottest whiskys, whiskeys (because there is a difference, you know), and scotches that are on the market today. Each is unique, and they’re all well worth considering if you want to delve deeper into the world of alternative luxury spirits.
1. Chivas Regal XV Whisky: Finished in Grande Champagne Cognac Casks
A 15-year-old Scotch whisky that spent the last portion of its aging process in casks that had previously held Grande Champagne Cognac. As our regular readers will be well aware of, Cognac from the Grande Champagne region is the most prized of all, so aging precious whisky in such barrels really does lead to a luxury product.
The reason for doing this is all down to taste and aroma. The experts behind the creation of such a whisky are forever pushing the boundaries of sensory delights. The oak that makes up the barrels not only passes its own reactive miracles to the liquid it holds, but also absorbs it into its very being. The delicious Cognac flavors that the wood holds within its grain is then passed back to the whisky during the process.
And the end result? A whisky that brings amazing oak and fruit tones to the nose and palate. On the nose it delights with complex, rich, sweet aromas. We’re talking juicy sultanas, stewed red apple, cinnamon, honey, and marmalade. The palate further evolves, with a grainy sweetness, butterscotch, and caramel toffee. The finish certainly doesn’t disappoint, and ends in a crescendo of vanilla.
2. Akashi Single Malt 6 Years
Offering not one, but two options, The Akashi Single Malt 6 Years is a limited edition that spent the first 5 and a half years aging in Cognac barrels. It then spent a further 10 months aging either in red wine casks, or white Chardonnay casks. The result is two very different offerings from this Japanese whisky house.
The Akashi Single Malt 6 Years White Wine Cask offers a lively, floral, white fruit aroma, with a round, refined palate. The Akashi Single Malt 6 Years Red Wine Cask brings the delights of a woody, red fruit sensory experience, and intense, well rounded flavors.
3. Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Glenlivet caused quite a stir when then they unveiled the Captain’s Reserve Single Malt during 2018. It was the first major single malt to hit the market that has finished off the aging process in Cognac barrels. Limousin oak barrels, to be specific.
Although this whisky carries no age statement, the taste experience is definitely of a spirit that’s been planty of years in the making. It’s a rich, amber shade, with aromas of honey, dried raisins, and peach jam. It’s creamy, yet dry, to taste, with notes of pepper, cooked apples, pears, and even chocolate. These flavors evolve and continue throughout the finish, which is of a medium length. It’s a great whisky to try for those whose more usual choice of spirit would be Cognac.
4. Lambay Single Malt Irish Whiskey
The Lambay Single Malt Irish Whiskey offers the wonders of a spirit aged in the salty climate of Ireland, with the delights of being finished in specially selected Cognac barrels from the house of Camus. In fact, it’s even blended by the cellar master from Camus, making it the perfect choice for any Cognac drinker interested in broadening their drinking horizons.
This triple distilled malt whisky completes its aging process in specially selected Camus Cognac casks. These have been shipped from France to ireland, where they have been exposed to the sea air of Lambay Island, a tiny landmass three miles off the coast of Ireland, just north of Dublin. The elements work their magic, and the salt, sea air, seaweed, and spray bring a unique taste profile to this quality whiskey.
It makes perfect sense for these to be barrels from none other than this innovative Cognac house. If you’re a fan of any of the Camus Ile de Re range, then you might be very interested in sampling this whiskey. It offers aromas of green fruits and ripe bananas, whilst the palate brings tones of dried berries, fruits, coconut, and malt. You could also try the Lambay Small Batch Irish Whiskey Blend, another that’s also finished in Cognac casks.
5. Brenne 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Here’s a whisky that’s actually created in the Cognac region. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve utilized Cognac barrels in the aging process. In fact, they’ve gone one step further by createing a blend of four different barrels. Two of these spent the complete aging process within Cognac barrels, one in a new toasted French oak barrel, and the other spent time in both. The result is a light, subtle whisky that really does showcase the Cognac flavors. At 48% ABV, it’s likely to appeal to those who enjoy the burn such a whisky offers, and is definitely best enjoyed neat.
So there you have it. For anyone looking for a new taste sensation, then a Cognac finished whisky really could hit the spot. The great thing is that you no longer have to only enjoy one or the other, as so many producers are bringing us innovative ways in which to sample old favourites. Here at Cognac Expert we happily embrace the fact that the boundaries of liquor are being further pushed wider, giving us all the chance to explore. By no means does it mean that we turn our back on tradition, but such innovation is what’s made the Cognac, whisky, and other spirit industries so exciting over the centuries.
So experiment, and enjoy. Life’s too short to constrain yourself to a single facet of all the wonderful liquors out there. Whether you’re a Cognac drinker who wants to sample some good whiskies, or a whisky drinker who’s looking to dip a toe in the world of eau-de-vie, these Cognac cask finished whiskies are a great place to start.