Oak Aged Vodka, Cask Three?

I finally have a bottling date for my next Oak Aged Vodka, Cask Two. With luck it will be week commencing 18th June 2012, I say with luck, because the bottlers are very busy and have been known to put the little guy to the back of the queue. I’m looking forward to Cask Two as the demand for Cask One took me completely by surprise, and that has led to advanced orders for Cask Two, so much so that approximately half of it is spoken for. The cask should yield about 350 bottles, and I will not re-fill the cask, no matter how good it is. I am now looking out for a special cask for Cask Three. The decision to fill the first cask was a major one for a small company like Fabulous Vodka, it seemed risky to fill 220 litres of very good vodka, at high strength into a cask with no guarantee that the outcome would be good. The cask chosen for Cask One was a very special cask, it was American Oak (Quercus Alba) and it had been filled with organic whisky from a great Highland distillery, it had held the organic whisky for 8 years, and had not been used before that. The vodka was left in the cask for a year, with me sampling it after 6 months, and then every other month until I thought that it was ready. As a whisky lover the resultant vodka really hit the spot with me, but I was a bit unsure how vodka fans would react to it. The vodka was still very pale, but amazingly smooth, it had a subtle oakiness and a definite hint of fresh vanilla. At room temperature the whisky notes were quite pronounced, but when chilled it was like a complex, spicy, smooth vodka, and it sold out in a couple of months!


The second cask is an ex Caribbean Dark Rum cask, it is European oak (Quercus Robur) which should lend the vodka a richer fruitier flavour, but as the cask is fairly old, it held rum for 12 years, and prior to that Sherry, the oak should not overpower the vodka. At the last sampling the colour was darker than Cask One, with a sweeter and more earthy flavour, but not too reminiscent of the rum that the cask held, the flavour definitely came from the wood. I’m really looking forward to another tasting prior to bottling. My search for Cask Three is in full swing, I want something a bit special again, maybe a Limousin Oak, or a wine cask like a Sauterne cask. I was chatting with friends on Twitter just last night and came across Dave @TIA568B http://glenuntitled.com/ who has filled a one litre cask with new make spirit, after just 81 days the resultant spirit has been utterly transformed by the cask, a great experiment, and I’m tempted to try using an absolutely fresh cask for Cask Three, but am a bit concerned that the maturation will be too fast to have the desired smoothing effect on the high strength vodka. The benefit for me is that as I age my vodka in a bonded warehouse I don’t have to pay the duty and VAT until I’ve bottled the end product, but quite what I would do with 220 litres of high strength spirit if the experiment didn’t work is a bit of a worry. It an always be re-distilled and/or charcoal filtered, this would return it to plain spirit status, but would incur quite a cost and exceptional losses, and in my opinion charcoal filtering is never a good thing for a spirit, especially a premium one. I will know the cask when I find it, inspect it and smell inside it! The search goes on 🙂


5 thoughts on “Oak Aged Vodka, Cask Three?

  1. Great post Chris, thanks for the mention. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for this.

    Virgin oak would be really interesting and I’d love to try it, but it does sound a bit risky as you’re relying purely on the wood for the flavour and it’s going to be hard to say how much influence that’s going to have on your finished product and unless you’re filling hundreds of casks a year it could be a really costly experiment although you could always cover it up with a PX finish!

    What about using a calvados cask if you can get a hold of one? One of the most memorable whisky experiences I’ve had was an Arran calvados finish, it was nothing like whisky, extremely fresh and sweet, I imagine that would work well with vodka, adding a good level of sweetness along with some depth and character to it.

    • A calvados cask would be interesting, I’m a fan of Arran whisky, I went there 5 or 6 years ago just as they were beginning to release their first bottlings. It was a trip I’ll never forget!

      • I fell in love with Arran around this time last year, I’ve only been to the Island once and that was as a kid, I’m hoping to pay them a visit towards the end of the month and get a distillery tour (and samples!).

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