Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wine finished in whisky barrels - Jacob's Creek Double Barrel

Double Barrel label with the new Jacob's Creek branding
1st of July 2014 has seen a product hit the market here in Aus that has pretty much flown under the whisky radar. Did someone forget that whisky drinkers actually do drink wine as well? When the mention of whisky barrel and wine was mentioned my ears pricked up. Enter the the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range.

Jacobs Creek, subsidiary to Pernod Ricard Australia, has release 2 wines, a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon finished in ‘aged’ whisky barrels. Aged will generally mean no much flavour. Asking around the local whisky social community virtually no one I know has heard of this. A bit of searching reveals many drinks channels got the pickup but never made it has not made it much further out. Does this reveal that these are sleepers just waiting to be discovered by the unsuspecting public, or creepers slipped in quietly because they just aren't ready yet?

The Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range comprises of:
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

In short these whisky barrels are sourced from both Scotch and Irish distilleries obviously coming form the Penrod Ricard stables. That is a pretty wide range of distillers at that so no guessing which distilleries they are except maybe Jameson for the Irish. It is a real pity that they are not using Australian whisky barrels but then this is the first release so I hope a good deal of experimentation and support to our local whisky market is going to happen.

Some official words from the PR release we found:
JACOB’S CREEK™ pushes new boundaries with the launch of Double Barrel –
a range of premium red wines finished in whisk(e)y barrels. 
JACOB’S CREEK, the iconic Australian wine brand, is pushing the boundaries of modern winemaking with the launch of JACOB’S CREEK Double Barrel – a range of premium red wines finished in whisk(e)y barrels. 
Driven by a culture of wine innovation and a desire to craft a unique new wine style, the winemakers at JACOB’S CREEK sourced aged barrels that had cradled premium whiskies for up to 20 years, and started experimenting. 
“We started with high quality fruit from selected Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards, from which we crafted premium red wine. We then matured the parcels traditionally in French and American oak barrels, before finishing 100% of the matured wine in old whisk(e)y barrels.”
For the official PR release material these quotes were sourced from find it here.

OK so you get the idea of what is going on here. Is it hype or is it truly a revelation? Clearly not the first time this has been done but certainly the first time I have seen such a high profile wine maker take the chance here in Australia. Through a friend we managed to secure 1 bottle of the Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon from our local Dan Murphy’s priced at $23. Expect a review soon on our thoughts about this bottle.

The Baron

This is a non-sponsord promotion. For any further details please defer to the Jacob's Creek website.


  1. Found these up in a small bottle shop just out of Yeppoon (QLD) well before I saw it in the South Aussie stores. Distribution is a weird thing.

    Doubt they could use Australian whiskey barrels as anything home made wouldn't have the characteristics of an archtypical american oak barrel used for scottish or irish whiskey. Well that, and that most Australian whiskeys are really pretty average in comparison (and very high priced). Flame that comment if you want, but just because Australian companies make whiskey doesn't mean they're making 'good' whiskey .. yet.

    Hats off to Jacobs Creek for trying something new, but is this more a knee jerk reaction to an overall consumer outcry for 'new products' (eg. even Chivas Regal has a new bottle out), rather then as an expression of their calibre ?
    Interesting to see if there'll be a 2013 vintage .. or beyond ..

  2. Thanks for the message. Regarding the comment about using Australian Whisky Barrels vs Scottish or Irish it should be considered Jacobs Creek is a Pernod Ricard Australia brand. Knowing this would make logical business sense to use barrels coming from the other Scottish and Irish brands they also own. Keep it in the family.

    In my personal experience having had many whiskies drawn straight from the cask in Tasmania I have to say there are some extraordinary quality Australian whiskies being produced. Then again I have had some pretty average ones at that too but more so in the past and not now. Our unique environment, ingredients, casks and maturation make Australian whisky altogether something unique against our UK cousins so it makes for murky waters to directly compare the two as one being better than the other. Personal preference really. My first hand experience also calls into doubt that ex-bourbon barrels actually work for Aussie whiskies.

    Regarding the barrels comparison the maturation process here is so fast all Aussie whiskies I have tried that have touched ex-bourbon end up being really metallic. Though I have asked many of the Australian distillers this question "why use everything but ex-bourbon", there has never been a direct answer. Just take note of how more Aussie whiskies are ex-wine, ex-sherry, or ex-port rather than bourbon and it will probably lead you to the same conclusion I have. I had asked the distillers also (when I was in Tassie recently) about selling ex-casks to Aussie wineries and they had all answered no they have not though they sell quite a lot to local beer and cider producers.

    To me still what Jacob's Creek has done seems more marketing driven by Pernod Ricard Australia and the results delivered are less than a great result. For now.