Looking for a gift that will stand out this Father’s Day? The newly released The Crash Whisky Barrel Shiraz is a celebration of two favourite drinks in one bottle (well, barrel).
Until now, winemakers have tended to be pretty guarded about using whisky barrels to age their wines. But knowing it’s a genius technique for infusing the spice and vanilla notes from whisky into a quality shiraz, the pioneering makers from The Group wines and Starward whisky want everyone to know what they’ve been up to in their bold new collaboration, The Crash Whisky Barrel Shiraz.
When you consider the quality of grapes The Group sources from some 100 South Australian growers, along with the unmatched flavour of Starward’s whiskies that build on Melbourne’s four-seasons-in-one-day climate, it’s any wonder they would join forces to try to create something different.
So, what really happens when you repurpose oak whisky barrels to age a bold new shiraz? We asked Marnie Roberts, winemaker from The Group, and Carlie Dyer, Starward Whisky’s blender, to tell us how the magic happens.
Marnie: “We were trying to amplify the notes of spice and vanilla found in the whisky in the wine to develop a richer and layered experience for the taster.”
Carlie: “We’re always on the hunt for ways we can repurpose our barrels or take on barrels that have lived another life. Starward Two Fold whisky is matured in oak barrels that previously held Australian wine, so it made sense to repurpose the barrels using The Group shiraz. We know that our whisky shines in red wine barrel maturation, so it was extremely exciting and intriguing to see what would happen if we did the reverse – we had a feeling the result would be fruit-forward and delicious and we’re delighted with the flavoursome impact our barrels had on the finished product.”
Marnie: “We had to closely monitor the wine to make sure it hadn’t taken on an excessive whisky flavour. Every three to four weeks, we would check them and at the end we did some ‘bench trialling’ to establish the best percentage of barrel aged material to [add] to The Group Shiraz base to create a complex layered wine.”
Marnie: “Barrels are integral to the maturation process in both wine and whisky because it has a significant and lasting impact on the flavour of the liquid. The origin of the oak the barrel is made from – whether French, American or Hungarian – as well as the forest it is sourced from and the way the cooperage [barrel maker] ages the oak through fire and heat play a large part [in the result]. Ultimately, time in oak allows the wine to develop complexity and concentrates the wine’s flavour profile so it [becomes] layered with lifted aromatics and mouthfeel.”
Marnie: “A delicate mix of rich dark fruits, spice and vanilla caramel. The whisky component adds to the length on the palate – it’s smooth and very approachable now.”
Carlie: “Starward’s Two-Fold barrels left pleasant elongated notes of toasted oak, vanilla and spice to compliment the full-bodied shiraz notes of blackberry and ripe orchard fruits.”
Marnie: “Full flavoured food with a hint of sweetness – think Korean fried chicken in a sticky sauce, or a strong cheese.”