Barrel Aged Cocktail Recipe – Rye Whiskey in a Cream Sherry Barrel
There is no shortage of Rye whiskies on the shelves at your local liquor store. I recently picked up a brand I was not familiar with and decided to do a little something different with it. High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey is a blend of straight rye whiskies. It blends an LDI straight 6 year old rye barrel aged whiskey (95% rye/5% barley mashbill ) with a Barton straight 16 yr rye whiskey (80% rye/10% corn/10% barley mashbill). It is 46% ABV (92 proof) and quite tasty. You will notice the pepper spice, caramel, vanilla with a touch of citrus in the tasting of High West Rendezvous Rye.
Aging or finishing a whiskey or bourbon in a wine or sherry barrel is nothing new. Scotch is commonly barrel aged in used wherry or wine barrels but American whiskey and bourbon a relatively new to the stage. Angel’ Envy is a bourbon finished in a port wine barrel and it is quite a treat. Coincidentally they just came out with a version that is finished in a sherry barrel. Barton 1792, Big Bottom, Luxco, Ascendent Spirits and Breckenridge are just a few others that are finished or barrel aged entirely in a wine cask. It seems to balance a sweet compliment in the strength of a bold whiskey or bourbon and it works quite well. These whiskies and bourbon many times can pull in a premium price for the bottle so here is a way you can make your own at home on the cheap.
We will be curing the barrel aged beverage with Taylor Cream Sherry. There are quite a few sherries in all different flavors so you can choose something that works for your taste buds. Each one will bring its own twist to your whiskey aging in the barrel. I have done this in the past with different bourbons and sherries and each one is totally different in flavor. I think the Taylor Cream Sherry 750ml bottle set me back all of about $8. It has a nice nose with hints of caramel and walnuts with a sweet taste of nutty mocha.
We are only going to age a fifth (750ml) of whiskey but we are doing it in a 2 liter barrel. A lot of people ask me if it’s okay to not fill the barrel to the top when starting a new batch in the barrel. Yes it is. I wouldn’t suggest putting anything less than half full to start out with though. When you start with less than a full barrel it means that a higher percentage of your liquor will be in contact with the inside surface of the barrel. That means it will age faster but also it will evaporate faster. If you are going to do this then just make sure you keep a check on your batch or it could disappear quicker than normal.
- 2 Liter Oak Aging Barrel
- 750 ml Taylor Cream Sherry
- 750 ml High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey
Most people cure their small oak barrel with water. The reason is simply that many times a small barrel will leak during the curing process as the wood swells against the hoops to seal itself. It is better to lose water than your liquor. In this case we want to season or flavor the barrel with our cream sherry so we are going to cure the barrel with the sherry instead of water. It’s cheap so no worries if a little leaks out. Pour the cream sherry in to 2 liter barrel. Since the barrel is only half full you can rotate the barrel so the bung is at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock every other day. You don’t have to do this but it makes me feel better to know the liquor is soaking in evenly. It will still soak in even if you don’t rotate the barrel so don’t worry if you just pour it in and forget about it for a week or two. I suggest leaving the sherry in the barrel at least a week and you can go for a couple weeks if you want or need to. Once the time has lapsed and your are ready to start aging your whiskey just empty the sherry back in to the sherry bottle. Now you are ready to put your whiskey in the barrel. How long you age it just depends on your flavor preference. In our recipe we left it in the barrel for only two and half weeks. You can go longer but I wouldn’t recommend leaving a fifth in a 2 liter barrel for more than a month or so since your will be losing it to Angel’s Share at a higher rate. We suggest you take a small sample each week. When it gets to the flavor you like then remove it from the barrel and pour it in a bottle to save the flavor, then start your next batch. This cocktail can be enjoyed multiple ways. You can take shots, drink it neat, on ice, with a whiskey stone for chilling or use it in a cocktail recipe like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. CHEERS!
Will make about 8-10 drinks per recipe. The longer you age it in the barrel the less you will have remaining since some loss due to Angel’s Share is imminent.