The Oak Barrel: Wine, whisky, spirits, craft beer and cider

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  • Glendronach Virgin Oak 14 Year Old

    Glendronach Virgin Oak 14 Year Old

    One of GlenDronach’s experimental cask expressions, this 14-year-old has been matured for a time in virgin oak.

    An on-again, off-again release from the cult-adored highland distillery, this was matured in European oak before a brief finish in American virgin oak (that is, casks that haven’t held anything prior to whisky).

    Non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% with natural colour, this is a spicy, toasty dram and quite unlike any other of their expressions.

    Official tasting notes:

    Nose: Toasted oak elements which are so intense that smoky attributes emerge. Sweet and lush tropical fruits rise with prominence. Banana and cacao, with roasted coconut.

    Palate: Spiced ginger and cinnamon cake with a beautiful smoky twist. Creamed desiccated coconut and fresh buttered toast with a handful of hazelnuts on the side.

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  • Wolfburn Aurora Sherry Cask Single Malt

    Wolfburn Aurora Sherry Cask Single Malt

    The second expression from new northern Scotland distillery Wolfburn – the Aurora has been matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

    Long fermentations and slow distillations have coaxed a lot of flavour out of their spirit at a very young age. The Aurora showcases more dried fruits and nuttiness than the first release single malt.

    In distillery manager Shane Fraser’s own words: “On the nose you’ll sense a sherry sweetness accompanied by dried fruits and malt. On the palate there’s a warmth imparted from the sherry cask, augmented by autumn fruits and nutty flavours, with a hint of spice in the background.

    Wolfburn is located in Thurso and was originally founded in 1821. Details are scarce but its production is believed to have been intermittent at best and likely non-existent during the period from 1850s-1870s. 

    Reduced to ruins, a private company revealed plans to rebuilt the distillery in 2012 and spirit ran off the stills at Wolfburn once again in January 2013 after some 150-odd years of silence.

    The rebirth of Wolfburn has been guided largely by Shane Fraser. Prior to Wolfburn he was the production manager at one of whisky’s most famous independent distilleries Glenfarclas. He also spent time at Oban and Royal Lochnagar and his name now adorns every Wolfburn bottle.

    Also at the distillery is Iain Kerr, who’s previously worked at Glenlivet, Balmenach and Allt a Bhainne.

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  • Heiwa Shuzo Tsuruume Yuzushu

    Heiwa Shuzo Tsuruume Yuzushu

    A very addictive, refreshing Yuzushu from Heiwa.

    Yuzushu is a citrus-driven 'limoncello-style' drink from Japan made from the yuzu citrus fruit.

    This Heiwa expression is made with yuzu juice and one-year-old junmai sake at a 1:1 ratio, which is a higher ratio of fruit juice than the typical.

    Beautifully fresh and aromatic, it’s clean and citrusy on the palate with refreshing acidity and tartness.

    The fruit for this is sourced from Wakayama and is juiced with the peel to bring our both the sweet and bitter elements.

    Perfect for summer heatwaves, a huge favourite of Oak Barrel staff.

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  • Sami-Odi 'Little Wine' #6 Syrah

    Sami-Odi 'Little Wine' #6 Syrah

    Sami-Odi returns with a rich, dark, and seductive wine. Blackberries and violets dominate the nose along with Chai spices (star anise in particular) and a striking savoury earthiness.

    The palate is dry and spicy, and those Chai spices return (this time dominated by cinnamon) along with cherries and plums. This wine has a lot of depth. It’s warming, structured, and leathery, with a robust tannic grip. It’s deftly well balanced, medium bodied, perfect length and very lean.

    We really enjoyed this wine, but it is still a bit tight (it has only just been released after all), so it would benefit from decanting or ageing. It has the potential for long term cellaring (7-10 years) though we would probably recommend it for short term (3-5 years) because the appeal of a well-made Barossa Syrah is that heady, rich robustness.

    Technical details: LW #6 is an unvintaged ‘assemblage’ of Shiraz casks from 2016 (47%), 2015 (44%), 2013 (5%) & 2012 (4%), sourced exclusively from the Hoffmann’s ‘Dallwitz’ vineyard, from vines planted in 1912, 1960, and the 1990s. The ‘Little Wine #6’ is the little sibling to the Sami-Odi ‘Mahé & Ribo’. 6155 bottles produced.

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