By Amy Looker – editor National Liquor News

Jacob’s Creek continues to quench its thirst for innovation, following the launch of Double Barrel, a range of premium red wines that have been finished in whisk(e)y barrels.

Using quality fruit from selected Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards, Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hickin (pictured) crafted premium red wines which were then matured in French and American oak barrels, before finishing 100 per cent of the matured wine in 20-year-old whisky barrels to create subtle hints of complementary flavour.

“We got this idea about two years ago that there was a possible market for wine that was made traditionally using vineyards and age-processing barrels – as you would do a normal premium Cabernet or a Shiraz wine – but then finish the wine off in whiskey barrels,” Hickin told TheShout.

“We do stress that it’s more of a finishing process – it’s not an aging process. And we’ve done research on it and found that there are one or two other people on the planet that have done some things similar to what we’ve done, but the way we’ve approached it has been really unique. For example, there’s a guy in the US who ages red wine in old bourbon barrels, but this is about taking old Scotch whisky barrels and old Irish whiskey barrels and, over that two-year process, working out how the flavours actually married up with the flavours in serious, premium wines.”

Hickin said that one of the challenges was that each barrel performed differently, so it took time to understand the true effect on the wines, and achieve a result that was perfectly balanced.

“When you taste the wines, they’re very much an intense, full-bodied style of red wine – perfect for drinking with nice hardy meals and beef dishes. They are aged up to 18 months in barrels – the cabernet’s aged in French oak barrels and the Shiraz is aged in French and American oak barrels. So we’re sort of going along this process, all pretty orthodox at the moment – nothing quirky or unusual. But then the wines are pumped out respectively –  the Coonawarra Cabernet and the Barossa Shiraz – and they’re then finished off in whiskey barrels."

Hickin said the barrels were drained and dried out because, while he wanted the flavour of the old timber to come through, he did not want the wines to exhibit strong whisk(e)y characters.

“This is all about maintaining the integrity of the varietal character of the wines. We drained the barrels out to the point there is no alcohol there to pick up. The wines are 14.4 per cent alcohol and on test, there was no visible increase in alcohol. We’re not trying to impart the flavour of Scotch or whiskey – we’re trying to get the textual mouth-feel effect of the old barrels, and it’s really interesting when you taste the wine to see what happens. We’re looking at subtlety, and we’re looking at what is going on in the mid-palate in terms of smoothness and texture and length.”

The launch of Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel will be supported extensively in the trade with ongoing education for retailers and sommeliers.

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel will be available in major retail outlets across Australia from 1st July 2014 at an RRP $24.99.  

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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