Most people have this romantic idea that sherry casks used for the maturation of whisky have been used for years in the soleras of Spanish bodegas first and are then sent to Scotland. In reality this is an exception rather than a general rule, nowadays the vast majority of casks are actually new – they are made on request and filled with “seasoning wine” (which sits a couple of steps below the regular sherry wines) for a relatively short period.
In this case it’s different. Bodegas Tradición, a highly respected supplier of (very old) sherries, provided Glengoyne with two casks that were actually part of their soleras: one Palo Cortado and one Pedro Ximénez cask.
The Palo Cortado cask was part of a 12 butt solera and had been in use for around 50 years. It was shipped to Glengoyne, where they filled it with 12 years old bourbon-matured spirit and left it to mature further for an extra year.
Note that Glengoyne is one of the only distilleries that regularly work with Palo Cortado casks (as well as Amontillado) while most whisky is matured in either Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez or sometimes Fino. I’ve heard both Tradición casks have now been passed on to Bruichladdich for a similar experiment.
This Glengoyne 1999 was bottled for Germany (a major market for sherried whisky) and it was sold in a wooden box “whisky meets sherry”, containing a bottle of both the whisky and the sherry. Contrary to what they seem to imply, the sherry is a mix of different casks, it is not bottled from the exact same cask that was used to finish the whisky (although it’s close enough). Head over to my sister blog SherryNotes for my review of the Palo Cortado VORS from Bodegas Tradición.
Glengoyne 13 yo 1999 (53,8%, OB for Germany 2012, Bodegas Tradición Palo Cortado finish, 477 btl.)
Nose: clean, sweet and fairly malty. It does show some of the Palo Cortado characteristics, but there’s an underlying theme of fresh bourbon oak as well. Honey sweetness. Grape skins and golden raisins. Some butter and sugared almonds. Maybe dates. Overall quite round, with a minty and lemony edge. Not bad, but the sherry influence is rather shy.
Mouth: sweet to bittersweet, still some grape skin alongside cloves, pepper, brazil nuts and apples. Orange zest. Dark chocolate. Some tannins and sourish winey notes. It seems slightly disjointed: it’s really spicy, a tad bitter as well, and lacking something to balance it. It reminds me more of French wine finishes than of what we tend to call a typical sherry finish.
Finish: some honey sweetness, but the zestiness of grapefruit is much bigger. Quite peppery again.
Not the best marriage, if you ask me. I think the Palo Cortado in itself is excellent (one of the best examples of its kind, and Palo Cortado is my favourite type of sherry anyway) but maybe it didn’t have enough time to impart its character. Or maybe using actual solera casks is not always a great idea after all. Around € 140 for both bottles.