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Scotch Whisky

What Does It Mean When A Distillery Says It ‘Finished’ A Whiskey?

The distilling process of any whiskey is fascinating. So much care, precision, and time are taken to create a warm, amber-colored spirit, with its own unique notes. No two whiskeys are the same, and each is to be enjoyed in mixed drinks or served neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water.

Designer Dram writes that the basic beginning distilling process includes the mash bill (the grain mix), malting the grains, milling, which turns the grains into flour, mashing (the cooking process), fermenting, aging in a barrel, and finally, proofing. Those are the basics for most whiskeys. However, sometimes, a distillery takes it to another level with the finish.

According to Punch Drink, the finish is when a whiskey has gone through the entire distilling process, and it is then aged even longer in a second, different barrel. In the past, the second barrels were nearly always sherry barrels, which gives the whiskey a smooth finish. Today, however, distillers are more creative and try other barrels, such as brandy, port wine, or even tabasco, to create unique flavor profiles.

Finished whiskeys are a fun change, and when it comes to tastings, they add another level of notes. Still, some purists feel that finishing takes away from the true whiskey, masking alcohol that would otherwise be of lesser quality. Of course, the only way to find out for yourself is to do a little tasting. 

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