Whisky in Manzanilla Sherry casks
1. The Origin
The Manzanilla Sherry is a subcategory of the Fino Sherry. The characteristics of the wine are the same as for the Fino. It has 15-17% ABV and a residual sugar of up to 5 grams per liter. The wine originates from Sanlucar de Barrameda in Spain.
The wine is very pale and dry. It is also more acidic than the regular Fino sherry.
2. Production and post treatment
The production is very similar to the Fino Sherry production except a few fine differences. The first is that the grapes are harvested earlier. This results in a higher acidity and is distinctive for the Manzanilla.
The second distinction from the Fino is the location where the wine is matured. The maturation takes place around the port of Sancular de Barrameda. It is located directly to the Atlantic Ocean. The maturation near the sea is said to give the Manzanilla a salty, fresh and marine flavour.
The close location to the sea results in lower temperatures and higher humidity. This has an effect on the flor that builds itself during the maturation in the cask. The higher yeast layer protects the wine from the oxygen in the air. This results in a fresher and more intense flavour.
3. Effect on the taste
The maturation in a Manzanilla Sherry cask increases the dryness of the whisky. An expert connoisseur may also find the whisky more acidic with a salty and marine flavour.
4. Effect on Colour
As the Manzanilla is a clear wine the effect on the whisky is almost negligible. Most of the colouring in a Manzanilla finish comes from the oak in the wood.
There are only few Manzanilla Sherry finishes on the market. Most of the whisky connoisseurs associate a Sherry finish with the sweet and fruity note and not the dryness and marine flavours you find in a Manzanilla Sherry finish.
5. Whisky Examples
The Ardbeg Ardbog was matured in Ex-Bourbon casks and finished in Manzanilla Sherry casks. The result is a fresh, marine flavoured whisky that has a lot to offer.
This Bunnahabhain was matured for 12 years in Ex-Bourbon casks and then finished for four years in Manzanilla casks. The outcome is a very interesting Scotch whisky.