Whisky-barrel finished Jacob's Creek to launch

Pernod Ricard Winemakers are about to launch Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel, a range of red wines finished in whisk(e)y barrels.

The two red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, have been traditionally aged in American and French oak before being finished in whisk(e)y barrels, which have held Scotch and Irish whiskies for up to 20 years.

The wines, priced at AUD$24.99 a bottle, will launch in Australia on July 1 before rolling out to international markets.

Winemakers at Jacob’s Creek claim the double barrel finishing process lends “additional complexity and texture to wines”, but that it took two years of trials to achieve the finished product.

Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker at Jacob’s Creek, said: “Each barrel performs differently, so it took time to understand the true effect on the wines, and achieve a result that was perfectly balanced. We started with high quality fruit from selected Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards, from which we crafted premium red wine. We then matured the parcels traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing 100% of the matured wine in old whisk(e)y barrels.

“We discovered that finishing the wines in aged whisk(e)y barrels introduced additional intricacy and a smoother texture, due to the fundamental differences between barrels made for ageing whisk(e)y, and those crafted to age wine.”

Following trials, winemakers found the "rich intensity of Shiraz" was better suited to the more assertive style of Scotch whisky, while the "elegance of Cabernet Sauvignon" was well suited to the smooth style of Irish whiskey.

Hickin added:“The use of Scotch whisky barrels to finish our Double Barrel Shiraz has imparted additional layers of complexity and smoothness, which combine beautifully with the rich varietal plum, fruit cake and chocolate notes of Barossa Shiraz.

“On the other hand, finishing Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon in Irish whiskey barrels has integrated the black fruit flavours and aromatic herbal notes, softened the tannins and, most noticeably, added real richness throughout the palate.”

Whisk(e)y barrels are scorched at a high heat, to release their natural wood sugars, while their narrower staves allow for greater oxygen exchange, according to Pernod Ricard Winemakers.

Over a long period of time, this imparts colour, flavour and sweetness to whisk(e)y, the company said.