Finishing whisk(e)y in a second barrel is a great way for a distiller or blender to put a unique stamp on their juice. It’s a move that’s becoming more and more prevalent too, with sherry, port, beer, rum, and even coffee casks/ barrels all getting play. Each of these iterations and expressions brings something unique to the final product, but today we’re focusing on rum finished whiskeys.
Dark rum and whiskey share a lot of nuances. Though one is made from a sugar cane base and another with a mix of cereals and grains, their aging process is very similar. That is, they mellow in oak until they’re just right. That oak exchanges the sugars in the veins of its wooden staves with the spirits carried therein, adding color, texture, and flavors along the way. In turn, flavors are left behind in the wood that can then add a little extra something to whatever goes in that barrel next. This may sound like putting a hat on a hat but, really, it’s just a way to add extra depth to the sip.
The ten bottles below represent some of the best whiskeys from around the world. Most of these bottles will be fairly accessible in higher-end liquor stores. A few of them you’re going to need to travel for. Either way, one thing remains true: These are the best bottles to sample to get an idea of how exciting rum finished whiskey can be.
BALCONES TEXAS SINGLE MALT WHISKY RUM CASK FINISHED (U.S.A.)
TEELING WHISKEY SMALL BATCH (Ireland)
ANGEL’S ENVY RYE FINISHED IN CARIBBEAN RUM CASKS (U.S.A.)
PIKE CREEK AGED 10 YEARS RUM BARREL FINISH (Canada)
TULLAMORE D.E.W. XO CARIBBEAN RUM FINISH (Ireland)
KAVALAN RUM CASK (Taiwan)
SLYRS TRINIDAD RUM FINISH CASK STRENGTH BAVARIAN SINGLE MALT WHISKY (Germany)
THE BALVENIE CARIBBEAN CASK AGED 14 YEARS (U.K.)
JEFFERSON’S RESERVE OLD RUM CASK FINISH (U.S.A.)
GLENFIDDICH AGED 21 YEARS RESERVA RUM CASK FINISH (U.K.)