Wednesday, 1 February 2017

1.2.17 Consejo Introduces Minimum One Year Cask Seasoning

Demand for “Sherry casks” in the whisky and rum trades is so strong that there are many casks out there which are not genuinely or properly seasoned with Sherry. Both top malt whisky distillers and the Consejo Regulador have been worried for some time by spirits sold as having been aged in Sherry casks when in fact they were aged in casks which had been seasoned with other wines. The Consejo Regulador has since last year been using a new system to certify them as genuine and eleven bodegas which account for some 60,000 casks have signed up to the system. At the start no minimum time periods for seasoning were included in the system but the vast majority of certified butts were seasoned for about a year. At a plenary meeting yesterday the Consejo agreed that one year should be the minimum time despite petitions to reduce it. 

New casks undergoing seasonng

It was generally agreed that a butt needs at least a year to become impregnated with the Sherry aromas, but the Consejo, at the request of one bodega, agreed to study the possibility of an exception to the rule if it could be proved, as that bodega suggests, that seasoning with old wine can accelerate the process without altering the result. Until a study is completed of the effects on wood of old wines, the Consejo will only certify “Sherry casks” with a minimum seasoning of one year. This certification consists of a card attached to each butt with a QR code containing information on the traceability of the product in the butt and the time it has spent there. Only spirits aged in certified butts have the right to use the name “Sherry” on their labels.

A (genuine) Sherry Cask Matured Whisky

A reputable bodega in Huelva has supplied “Sherry casks” for years to the whisky trade, perfectly good casks, but naturally could not get certification, so they ended up buying Bodegas Valdivia in Jerez in order to get the necessary certification. Butts used for Sherry production are seasoned with fermenting must from the third pressing of grapes from three vintages. Due to the uptake of tannins and strong wood aromas it will later be distilled.

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