Jacob’s Creek Is Making Red Wines In Old Whisky (And Whiskey) Barrels

Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hickin draws a sample from the whisky cask.

For centuries whisky makers have flavoured their spirit using old sherry casks, and now Barossa Valley winemaker Jacob’s Creek has completed the circle by making red wines in old Irish Whiskey and Scotch Whisky casks.

The Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel shiraz and cabernet sauvignon hit the market on July 1. It’s the 2012 vintage and the result of two years of trial and experimentation by chief winemaker Bernard Hickin and his team.

The double barrel name refers to the fact that the wines are still matured in the traditional way, in French and American oak, before it’s “finished” in the whisk(e)y casks.

The whisk(e)y barrels are scorched at high heat to release the natural wood sugars and maturing the wines in these casks adds colour, flavour and sweetness.

Hickin and his winemakers found that Barossa Valley shiraz is better suited to the more assertive flavour from Scotch barrels, while the Coonawarra cabernet prefers the Irish whiskey casks.

“Each barrel performs differently, so it took time to understand the true effect on the wines, and achieve a result that was perfectly balanced,” Hickin says.

“The use of Scotch whisky barrels to finish our Double Barrel Shiraz has imparted additional layers of complexity and smoothness, which combine beautifully with the rich varietal plum, fruit cake and chocolate notes of Barossa Shiraz.

“On the other hand, finishing Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon in Irish whiskey barrels has integrated the black fruit flavours and aromatic herbal notes, softened the tannins and, most noticeably, added real richness throughout the palate.”

The wines will be released on July 1 with an RRP of $24.99.