When it comes to aging whiskey, generally speaking, either new, charred oak barrels or used whiskey barrels are selected for the maturation process. Former sherry barrels are also used in great numbers, either to age the whiskey throughout its maturation process or in the finishing process. The desire to finish a whiskey has increased in recent years with brands looking to innovate and expand their portfolios. Also, as larger drink conglomerates add other spirit categories to their coffers—like say a rum brand—it makes financial sense to get the most out of their investment. As a result, rum finished whiskey has been hitting shelves at a rapid pace.
Some of these offerings are limited editions, but there are a few permanent additions as well. You can expect to get a hint of the rum flavor while still getting to enjoy those notes that you love in whiskey. These rum finished whiskey bottles are almost like getting a cocktail made for you. Just add your own umbrella. Speaking of cocktails, these selections are great to use in your cocktail, single malt or not. A whiskey sour is a great place to start, but don’t stop there.
Since a traditional holiday is out of the question for most of us these days, these rum finished whiskey bottles can at least take us away in our glasses if not physically to a tropical island. Most of these are widely available globally so check your local retailer for availability.
The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve is the latest addition to the rum finishing craze having just been released this spring. This no-age statement Scotch single malt finished its maturation in ex-Caribbean rum barrels sourced from Jamaica. It is bottled at 40% ABV. For an easy serve, add coconut water to your ice tray and freeze. When ready, just pop a coconut water ice cube in your glass and pour the whisky for a quick trip to the tropics.
This blended whiskey is made with both grain and malt whisky in 3:1 grain-to-malt ratio. These whiskeys are matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels before they are married and placed into Central American rum casks for up to 12 months. This rum finished whiskey is bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration.
This bottling is aged traditionally in used American barrels for 14 years and then finished in rum casks, however these casks were seasoned by The Balvenie directly. The brand selected different rums from the West Indies and poured them into new American oak to season the wood. Then the brand’s aged whisky finishes its aging in the seasoned rum casks. Incidentally, this method actually further ages the rum which can then be sold back. Classic!
Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye is made from a blend of two rye whiskeys. One is an 8-year-old Kentucky straight rye and the other is a 4-year-old Canadian rye whisky. This isn’t a rum finished whiskey, however. Unusually, the blended rye has Black Strap rum added to it. This limited edition release hit shelves back in June 2019, but it can still be found on shelves today.
This whisky is a blend of up to 40 single malts which after marriage aged for at least 8 years. The blend was then finished in ex-Caribbean rum casks for a period of around six months. This release was the first in a series of double-aged cask finishes from Dewar’s which now includes a mezcal finish.
Angel’s Envy was founded in 2010 by master distiller Lincoln Henderson, creator of brands such as Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack during his time at Brown-Forman. Since his passing in 2013, his son Wes Henderson has been at the helm with his son Kyle working right alongside him. Following the success of its port barrel finished bourbon, the brand released a rye whiskey. This rum finished whiskey spends up to 18 months in Caribbean rum casks. It is bottled at 50% ABV.
What’s in a name? When this rum-finished expression was first released in 2002, it was called Havana Reserve. This posed a problem with the United States as they have an embargo on Cuban products, even second hand. The name was eventually changed to Gran Reserva. An updated packaging design in 2016 included (yet again) another name change to Reserva Rum Cask Finish. Aged for 21 years in used American barrels, this spends its final four months in hand selected rum barrels from the Caribbean.
This rum finished whiskey is a triple-distilled triple blend featuring single malt, single grain and single pot still whiskeys in its makeup. These whiskeys were matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Then the whiskey finishes its maturation in first-fill Caribbean rum barrels which formerly held Demerara rum. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Ardbeg Drum is a no-age statement release created to celebrate Ardbeg Day 2019, held during the Islay Festival of Music & Malt or the Fèis Ìle. The theme for that year’s release was a Caribbean carnival. The single malt aged initially in ex-bourbon barrels and then finished its maturation in rum casks. Like previous Fèis Ìle bottlings for the brand, Ardbeg released two versions of the whisky. One was bottled at 52% ABV and was sold exclusively to Ardbeg Committee Members. This, the second version, became available after Ardbeg Day 2019 and is bottled at 46% ABV.
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