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KWM 2022 Whisky Calendar Day 7: Milk & Honey Elements Red Wine Cask

Posted on December 17, 2022

BONUS CONTENT: Read Andrew's write-up on one of our Evan Williams Single Cask Bourbon KWM selections here!

by Evan

Welcome to Day Seven of our 2022 KWM Whisky Calendar! We are continuing our exploration of newer distilleries in this outing, but we are heading out of Scotland for the first time since Day Three. This time, we are off to Israel to try out whisky from Milk & Honey Distillery!

You heard right: Israel. Based in the city of Tel Aviv, the Milk & Honey Distillery is the first whisky distillery to operate in the country. The distillery started operations in 2014.

Like many young distilleries, Milk & Honey pushed to create an accessible whisky style that would be smooth and rich even in youth. To achieve this, the company partnered with the late Dr. Jim Swan. Swan helped many younger distilleries around the world get their feet under them before he passed away in 2017. Distilleries that he consulted with include Amrut in India, Kilchoman on Islay, Kavalan in Taiwan, Cotswolds in England, and even Lindores Abbey Distillery, which we tasted back on Day 2.

The good doctor did a tremendous amount of work in shaping the new whisky world as it is today. One of Dr. Jim Swan’s contributions to the modern whisky world is the use of STR casks for whisky aging. You may remember that term came up just yesterday, with the Kingsbarn’s Dream to Dram, as well as on Day Two with the Lindores Abbey Single Malt. STR stands for Shaved, Toasted, and Re-charred. This means the cask that once held wine has its staves shaved down slightly (up to about 0.5 cm), to expose the woodgrain that has not been over-steeped in the wine previously held in the casks. After that, the newly shaved down interior or the cask is toasted by heating it up to a temperature which breaks down hemicellulose and lignins in the oak into sweeter wood sugars and other palatable compounds that can interact with maturing whisky.

The last step is the re-charring process, which exposes the interior of the cask to open flame. This caramelizes the wood sugars and burns into the oak slightly. At the end of this process, the interior of the cask looks like a heavily burnt piece of wood. Because it is. The staves are left with a cracked, charcoal texture full of peaks and valleys. The process has increased the surface area available to interact directly with the whisky, and the charred interior both imparts aroma and flavour but also filters off-notes from the young spirit. The result is a whisky that shows a sweet, robust, and approachable style at a young age.

Unsurprisingly given its location, all of Milk & Honey’s releases to date have been certified Kosher, a trend that is likely to continue far into the future. Even this release, which was finished in casks that once held Red Wine casks is Kosher. Same with their sherry cask releases.

So: Kosher Whisky from Israel rests in front of us, just begging to be sampled. Let's give it a go!

Milk & Honey Elements Red Wine Cask - 46%

Also available in full-size bottles

Part of the Milk & Honey Distillery's Elements Range, this single malt was matured in ex-Bourbon before finishing in ex-Red Wine Casks (STR Casks).

Evan’s Tasting Note

Nose: Oak shavings up front along with shelled pistachio nuts, tonic water, raisins, cranberries, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas.

Palate: A nice burst of flavour right on the front of the tongue. Spicy, juicy and oak-driven all at once with barrel char notes along for the ride. Plums, raisins, and strawberries as well. Plus, a smokey and slightly spicy yet sweet shrimp cocktail sauce with a dash of horseradish, of all things…

Finish: Fruity and drying from the barrel char notes. The fruit notes cooling but hot at the same time touch of horseradish sticks around for me.

Comment: The combination of sweet and savoury on this one is a lot of fun in my opinion, and not at all what I was expecting. Could this be a red wine cask whisky for those who don’t like red wine cask-finished whiskies? The blind ambush tasting that I subjected Curt to makes me think so…

Well, I do believe that these are the wildest tasting notes I have written in a while. I am not usually a cocktail sauce or horseradish fan, so those notes surprised me. It also surprised me how much I enjoyed finding those notes in this whisky. What will be in tomorrow's glass? Honey mustard? Garlic toast? Raw liver? If it gets any wilder, I will have to start questioning both my senses and my sanity. Or, you know, just sit back and enjoy the ride... See you tomorrow!

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This entry was posted in Whisky, Whisky Calendars, KWM Whisky Calendar 2022



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