The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2018

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42  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2018 INTRO-VINOUS T he practice of finishing whisky in wine barrels has been around since the 1860s, when Scotch producers first utilized Sherry butts as a means of transporting their spirits. It seems the tables have turned in the 21st century, however, as winemakers like James Foster of California-based Stave & Steel currently seek out whiskey barrels—Kentucky bourbon barrels, specifically—as an alternative oak-aging regime for its wines. This technique is hardly new: By the 1970s, Scotch producers had switched almost entirely from Sherry butts to bourbon barrels. They had also started experimenting with still-wine barrel finishes, although the practice didn't become an established part of the single-malt market until 2004. A short decade later, the first whiskey barrel–finished wines—primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Shiraz—hit shelves. James Foster is the Winemaker for California-based Stave & Steel. CABERNET with a Twist CALIFORNIA-BASED STAVE & STEEL SOARS WITH BOURBON BARREL–AGED CABERNET SAUVIGNON by Deborah Parker Wong / photos by Hardy Wilson

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