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Port basics for the whisky drinker

Part 1 in my fortified wines series, infographic for the whisky drinker:

Port

 

And here’s a picture of a Port pipe, 650L, looks likes a sherry butt no? But bigger – a sherry butt comes in at 500L.

But the picture is a bit more complicated – Port pipes are a dying breed, the Port houses today prefer the 225 L wine barrique instead. So Port pipes are often old, musty and sulphury, and the wood is thoroughly worn out, not a plus in the modern trend towards finishing in exotic wine barrels. The smaller barrique offers enough wood for a balance between oxidative aging and reactivity with the wood. Port barrels may well be more common in the future as sherry becomes harder to get.

And what of the effect of Port on the Whisky? Look no further than here.

For those who want the quick answers (from the article):

“Port offer a different flavour spectrum to sherry with red berry fruits, dark chocolate and lots of fragrance,” she says. “Port can offer flavors you can’t get anywhere else. The intense dark chocolate flavors in Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban are derived from the port wood. Maturation is affected by the quality of port, the style of port and the country the port has come from. My preference is to use younger ruby port as opposed to older tawny ports as I believe we get a more interesting range of flavors.” – Gilian MacDonald, of Penderyn and now Glenmorangie.

“Port gives the whiskey a distinctive sweet dried citrus fruits style,” he says. “There are differences in different ports. You can have the rich colour associated with a ruby port, but I prefer the flavor offered from the vintage or crusted port style. There is also the Tawny port which can be aged up to 20 years this tends to be more difficult to get but can also has a very powerful flavor.” – Noel Sweeney, master distiller at Cooley.

“The key is the cask itself,” he says. “Port casks are typically very old and therefore lacking oak impact on the whisky, unlike sherry casks.  Sherry casks add deep, oaky  notes from the youthful, vibrant oak but port casks are more subtle, less oaky and add fruit notes from the grape residue soaked into the surface. But with port the combination of old wood and grape residue is quite unique.” – David Stewart

“When I use port I’m looking for specific flavors to complement whisky and it might take years for it to get there. I’m looking for a delicate plummy veneer, a sheen to cover the whisky without dominating the character of it. It’s all about taste and I don’t car what people say after five, six or seven years about the whisky being ready. If you know what you’re doing you can tell straightaway whether that whisky’s right. You taste the delicate flavors in Balvenie 21 year old port wood and it’s all there. It’s great whisky.” – Richard Paterson

 

 

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One comment on “Port basics for the whisky drinker

  1. Pingback: Cockburn’s 20 yo Tawny Port | whiskyrific

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2014 by in Port and tagged .
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