Did anyone else notice all of those White Port finished whiskey around the holidays?
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I talk a lot about barrel finished whiskies in my reviews. I’m trying to scope out a lot of the trends I see and even identify the upcoming trends too.
See my thoughts on Amburana barrel finishes here. But there was another surprise barrel finish that caught my eye this past holiday season that has carried over into 2023. I’m talking about White Port.
The Second Most Popular Finish for Whiskies in the World
Port casks are probably the second most popular finish for whiskies in the world, right behind Sherry. And just like Sherry, which has at least 7 main styles, Port also has a whole host of styles.
For years now, we’ve only really heard of Tawny or Ruby when we’re talking about American whiskies being finished. It’s not up for debate that the most famous Port-finished rye whiskey has been High West’s Midwinters Night Dram.
Angel’s Envy makes the most popular bourbon that’s finished in a port barrel, but they don’t tell us what kind they use. Up until this point, I had never heard of any producer saying they used barrels that once held white port.
If the label just says “Port” on it, I assume they’re talking about the darker varieties.
So what is White Port anyway? It’s a lot more simple than you’re probably thinking: It’s Port that uses a white grape varietal instead of the darker kinds used for the other Ports I just mentioned.
Not a lot of White Ports are aged in a barrel, which might explain why it’s taken so long for their used barrels to make the trek across the ocean.
But for those that have drank it next to a darker Ports, the difference is in how much brighter it tastes. There is said to be more citrus and stone fruit flavors.
It can also be sweeter, but really that’s all dependent on how soon fermentation is stopped when the producer adds in the brandy to the fermentation tank.
Rumor has it that High West was going to incorporate their newly found White Port casks into the 2022 (Act 10) batch of Midwinter’s Night Dram. But there was an issue with the blend and how it tasted so they decided not to add it in.
High West Encore
Instead, they made its own separate release called “Encore” and bottled it at a little bit higher proof (101.6 instead of 98.6). The price was about the same as this year’s MWND with some people paying around $160 for a bottle.
That’s still a lot for a whiskey with no age statement and a low proof.
Other producers who have also got their hands on these White Port Barrels aren’t charging as much. The most recent Blackened release that collaborated with Wes Henderson prices that bourbon at $140 or so, but otherwise you could expect to pay somewhere around $60 to $90 for the remainder on the list below.
It’s interesting how quickly a unique barrel type will stick out in the market when it hasn’t been there before. White Port definitely fits that description.
It evokes a more fruity and refreshing image in your mind than its heavier, redder siblings. Projecting such a vivid profile is brilliant marketing for these producers and the results are paying off.
I know a lot of people are looking for these kinds of finishes and I’m sure we’ll see another High West Encore in the next 8 months when Christmas comes around. So how about you, have you tried any whiskey with a White Port finish?
Check out these labels if you’re on the lookout for a taste:
- Blackened x Wes Henderson White Port Finished Bourbon
- Starlight Bourbon finished in White Port Barrels
- High West Midwinters Night Dram Encore
- High West Double Rye! Single Barrel finished in White Port Cask
- World Whiskey Society 10 Year Old Wheated Bourbon finished in White Port Barrels
- Rare Character Bourbon finished in White Port Cask
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