Life

The Best Scotch Whiskies For Fans Of ‘Sherry Bombs’

When it comes to aging scotch, barrels that formerly held bourbon and sherry are the two most popular options. American oak casks — which once held the likes of Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, etc. — add extra charred, caramel, woody, and vanilla flavors to the whisky. Sherry casks, on the other hand, impart flavors like dried fruits, nuts, plums or prunes, and sweet sherry itself. Oftentimes, Scotch whisky is rested in both bourbon and sherry casks at the same time — with the two barrels marrying before proofing and bottling.

Of course, the ratios of these blends, the aging times, the size of the barrels, and more factor into how bourbon-y or sherry-ish a particular Scotch whisky tastes. Some expressions might dial back the sherry notes; others might turn them up to 11. Today, we’re highlighting ten of our favorite sherry-forward scotches. Check them out if you love the dried fruit, jammy flavor profiles that these bottles are defined by.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm

Kilchoman

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $109

The Story:

When it comes to Islay whiskies, sometimes Kilchoman is overlooked by the likes of Bruichladdich, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg. But, if you’re a fan of both peat and sweet sherry, you should purchase a bottle of Kilchoman Loch Gorm. Named for the loch the distillery overlooks, this smoky whisky is matured in former oloroso sherry casks.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of orange peels, spicy cinnamon, dried fruits, and a nice kiss of peat smoke. On the palate, you’ll be greeted with smoked bacon, clover honey, dried cherries, and buttery caramel. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice mix of smoke and rich chocolate.

Bottom Line:

Take a break from your usual Islay malts and try this deeply enjoyable mix of peat smoke and sherry sweetness. You won’t be disappointed.

Glenmorangie Lasanta

Glenmorangie

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $54

The Story:

Glenmorangie Lasanta is a special whisky expression. This 12-year-old is first matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in both Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks. The result is a complex, well-rounded whisky with strong notes of honey, chocolate, and dried cherries.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of raisins, vanilla beans, and charred oak. The palate is loaded up with sweet sherry, orange peels, ripe berries, buttery caramel, and vanilla cream. The ending is mellow and warming, with hints of cinnamon and brown sugar.

Bottom Line:

Glenmorangie The Original is one of the best beginner scotches on the market. If you’re going to take a few steps up on the ladder, a great, sherry-filled option is Glenmorangie Lasanta.

The Macallan 12 Double Cask

The Macallan

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $60

The Story:

The Macallan is well known for its relationship with Jerez, Spain, and the sherries made there. The Macallan 12 Double Cask is one of the best examples of this partnership. Aged in both American oak and European oak sherry casks, it’s robust, rich, and filled with caramel and vanilla sweetness.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find notes of sherry, brown sugar, and sweet raisins. On the palate, you’ll taste creamy caramel, cloying honey, orange zest, and subtle, spicy cinnamon. The finish is defined by fruit flavor and rich, nutty sweetness.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a whisky fan, there’s a good chance you’ve tried The Macallan 12. Amp up the sherry-ness of it all with the brand’s double cask-ed cousin.

Bowmore 15

Bowmore

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $85

The Story:

Previously referred to as “The Darkest,” Bowmore 15 is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry casks. But unlike some of the other scotches on the market, it isn’t simply “rested” in sherry-seasoned barrels. After spending 12 years in bourbon casks, it spends its last three years in sherry butts.

Tasting Notes:

Take moment to give this a proper nosing and you’ll be met with aromas of prunes, espresso, raisins, and sweet sherry. Take a sip and you’ll find flavors of charred oak, sticky toffee, maple syrup, and a subtle hint of smoke. The finish is a nice mix of spice and dried fruitiness.

Bottom Line:

Bowmore is another name that seems to get lost in the Islay shuffle. But if you like dried fruit, you definitely shouldn’t overlook this sherry bomb.

Glenfarclas 105

Glenfarclas

ABV: 60%

Average Price: $100

The Story:

When you see that this cask strength whisky is 120 proof, but named 105, you might be confused. Paying homage to its history of being the first Scotch distillery to release a barrel-proof option, the 105 refers to the British proof for 60% alcohol. This no-age-statement whisky is assumed to be aged between 8-10 years in both ex-bourbon and former sherry butts.

Tasting Notes:

Nose this whisky and you’ll be met with scents of toasted walnuts, freshly brewed coffee, and dried cherries. The palate is filled with the flavors of clover honey, candied orange peels, almond cookies, creamy caramel, and a nice hint of pepper. It finishes with a nice mixture of pecans and cracked black pepper.

Bottom Line:

If you’re going to properly stock your liquor cabinet, you’re going to need a versatile cask-strength whisky. Glenfarclas 105 fits that bill completely.

The Dalmore 12 Sherry Cask Select

The Dalmore

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $80

The Story:

This whisky’s back story is as complex as its flavor. It’s first matured for ten years in ex-bourbon American oak barrels. While it aged, the Dalmore team seasons European and American oak casks with a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherries. After ten years, the juice is transferred to these barrels for an additional three years.

Tasting Notes:

The aromas are that of ginger candy, orange zest, and caramelized sugar. The palate is swirling with pecans, sugar cookies, milk chocolate, buttery caramel, and a nice kick of spicy cinnamon. The finish is complex, warming, and ends with a very tasty combination of maple candy and just a touch of cinnamon sugar.

Bottom Line:

The Dalmore is well-known for its unique offerings. Cigar fans love its Cigar Malt expression. Sherry fans will love this sherry-filled expression as well.

Aberlour A’Bunadh

Aberlour

ABV: 61.5%

Average Price: $115

The Story:

Meaning “the original” in Gaelic, this whisky is made to pay tribute to the brand’s founder James Fleming. It’s matured completely in Spanish oloroso sherry butts. The result is an intensely sherry-flavored, cask-strength whisky you won’t soon forget.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to nose this whisky and you’ll find aromas of maple candy, vanilla cake, and raisins. Take a sip and you’ll find flavors of sweet sherry, dried fruits, ginger candy, charred oak, and a nice hint of milk chocolate. The finish has a nice mix of pepper and butter cookies.

Bottom Line:

Where the Glenfarclas 105 is a little bolder and spicier, Aberlour is a much sweeter and more nuanced cask-strength whisky. If that’s what you’re looking for, this should be your top choice.

Arran Bodega Sherry Cask

Arran

ABV: 55.8%

Average Price: $85

The Story:

Another high-proof whisky, Arran Bodega Sherry Cask is matured for seven years in first-fill sherry butts (the first aging after they were used for sherry). The result is rich, complex single malt whisky with a nice mix of dried fruits, charred oak, and caramel sweetness.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of candied orange peels, cloves, cinnamon, and charred wood. The palate is full of hints of raisins, cherries, buttery caramel, and sweet treacle. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice kick of nutty sweetness.

Bottom Line:

Arran doesn’t have the name recognition of some of the whiskies on this list. Don’t let that stop you from grabbing a bottle of this sherry explosion.

Ardbeg An OA

Ardbeg

ABV: 46.6%

Average Price: $65

The Story:

First released in 2017, Ardbeg An Oa gets its name from the Mull of Oa, which overlooks the southwest coast of Islay. It’s the kind of place where you’d go to relax and take in the beauty of the ocean meeting the land. It’s the perfect place to enjoy this subtly smoky single malt that’s aged in ex-bourbon, virgin oak, and Pedro Ximénez butts before being melded together pre-bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the fragrances of honey, brown sugar, and citrus zest, and flowing across a smoky backbone. The flavor on the palate is that of pipe tobacco, maple syrup, fruit cake, and buttery caramel. It all finishes with a nice mixture of toffee and peat smoke.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a fan of sherried whiskies and you’ve never tried a peat-smoked single malt, this is a great gateway whisky. Sip it slowly and enjoy all of the various, nuanced flavors.

GlenDronach 12

GlenDronach

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $70

The Story:

GlenDronach fans are drawn to the brand because of its affinity for marrying the classic scotch flavors with sherry notes. This 12-year-old expression is matured in both Spanish Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry butts. The result is a truly memorable non-chill filtered single malt.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of brown sugar, ginger candy, almonds, and vanilla beans. The sip will immerse you in a world of butter cookies, crème Brulee, candied orange peels, dried fruits, and subtle cooking spices. It all ends in a crescendo of caramelized sugar and rich, fruit-inflected cinnamon spice.

Bottom Line:

If you only purchase one bottle from this list, make it GlenDronach 12. It’s well-rounded, rich with sherry flavors, and well-suited for slow sipping on a cool, spring night.

×