Tag Archives: cigar

Wine-Finished Whiskies

slaughterhouse whiskey

Recently I discovered a little piece of the whiskey industry and decided to explore it a little bit: wine barrel finished whiskies. The two whiskies I tasted are distilled and aged as whiskey, then re-barreled by Napa Valley wineries in their used wine barrels and aged for a period of time in Napa.

Slaughter House is a product of Splinter Group in Napa, home of the Orin Swift family of wines. For Slaughter House, they barrel a 9-year-old Tennessee whiskey (distilled from 95% corn and 5% wheat) in their Papillon barrels (a red wine blend).

Slaughter House is bold and spicy , with a nose of apricot, berries and caramel followed by a flavor of cinnamon-and-sugar and marzipan. From the flavor of the whiskey, I have trouble detecting the wine’s contribution, though Slaughter House is certainly a solid whiskey when stood alone. With a price in the mid-$30 range, it’s a good buy for a solid spice-heavy 9-year-old whiskey.

amador whiskey

Amador Whiskey Co’s Double Barrel Bourbon is a blend of 3-10 year old Kentucky bourbons, then is re-barreled in Napa for 6 months.

Also¬†a mid-$30-priced whiskey,¬†Amador Double Barrel is barreled by the spirits division of¬†Trinchero Family Estates. Chardonnay barrels were used for aging and the wine barrel contribution¬†is¬†much more obvious. It’s nose is floral and¬†sweet corn, with a finish that is crisp and clean, clearly¬†echoing the Chardonnay. Amador has almost no traces of spiciness, and is much milder start-to-finish than Slaughter House. I suspect that this¬†flavor profile could¬†translate to a broader appeal to more drinkers, too¬†(ladies, I’m looking at you).

Whiskey is no stranger to barrel polygamy. Whether it’s something like these wine-barrel finishes, or larger brands like Angel’s Envy (finished in Port barrels) or Balvenie Double Wood, the depth of flavor that gets added through barrel exploration like this makes for some very delicious drinking.

Hennessy Cognac

hennessy ryan mcginness bottle

This is one of the few cognac reviews you’ll find here at Simple Cocktails, but that’s not really intentional. It’s just that cognac can be pricey and is mostly¬†intended for sipping, not cocktail-making. Hennessy is really one of the big names in cognac and has released a limited edition bottle¬†to celebrate 250 years in business, designed by American artist Ryan McGinness.

So what is cognac exactly? Cognac is brandy (distilled from grapes) that is specifically distilled and aged in the Cognac region of France. Like brandy, there are 3 common types of cognac:

  • V.S. – very special. The youngest type¬†of cognac.
  • V.S.O.P. – very special old pale. An older and more expensive cognac.
  • X.O. – extra old. Cognacs in this range usually start at $100, though they can¬†command thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if they’re old or unique enough.

hennessy ryan mcginness bottle

Hennessy has chosen accessibility with this limited edition bottle, it’s the V.S. blend,¬†which retails for the usual $30-40. V.S. is a blend of dozens of cognacs and is aged 8 years. Cognac has long been the preferred accompaniment to a cigar, and this one has the¬†subtle flavor of sweet red wine, and the barrel notes of vanilla and a little bit of caramel. Definitely the right flavor profile for a cigar.

Cognac is not particularly appealing to the younger drinking crowd and I imagine this bottle art is a way of generating interest from them. It glows under a blacklight, a particularly cool effect in a nightclub. The artwork is modern and beautiful too, and if you’re looking to pickup a moderately-priced cognac, there’s not reason not to grab this beautiful bottle with quality cognac inside.