Double Oak Whiskey
When I think about “double oak” whiskies, I usually associate them with single malts. For instance, Diageo’s Distiller Edition whiskies mature in ex-fill European and American oak casks and are finished in various sherry and port casks. While faithful to the individual distillery’s characteristics, the resultant whiskies receive additional subtle and nuanced flavors from the finishing barrels. Cask finishing has also proliferated among American distilleries, bringing us to Ohio’s Noble Oak. Backed by The Edrington Group (producers of The Macallan and Famous Grouse), the wood management team behind Noble Oak has produced two highly pleasing whiskies indeed: Noble Oak Double Oak Bourbon and Double Oak Rye.
Before you race off to the Newtown, Ohio distillery, note that MGP (Midwest Grain Products) in Indiana distills the base spirit in these two bottlings. MGP is one of the largest master/contract food, grain product, and spirits suppliers in the world, producing some of the biggest names in food and drink (Ezra Brooks, Yellowstone, Old Elk, Bulleit, Redemption, to name a few). Individual barrels are sourced by the folks at Brain Brew Custom Whisk(e)y, a company founded by inventor and distiller Doug Hall. After fermentation and distillation in Indiana, the whiskies are placed into new charred American white oak barrels and shipped to Ohio.
Once received, the whiskey undergoes a “proprietary finishing” called the “WoodCraft Process” developed by the Brain Brew folks. Staves of oak from Spanish sherry casks are added to the whiskey and pressurized to integrate the flavor of the staves into the spirit. The process creates flavor without the extra-added wait time of secondary maturation. Although bottled as NAS (non-age-statement), we know the whiskies are matured for at least two years.
The Double Oak Bourbon’s amber and copper hues shine radiantly in the glass. The nose includes forward corn, cherry, and honeyed vanilla notes, and the stringent, dry mouthfeel exhibits signature characteristics of a sherry-finished whiskey. Warming and slightly spicy on the finish, this 90-proof bourbon is perfect straight from the glass and mellows a bit with the addition of a little water or an ice cube. Oak and caramel flavors accompany the finish while the warmth pleasantly dissipates. Perfect on its own, the lingering aromas of cherry would most certainly complement a Manhattan.
The Double Oak Rye is matured in the same manner as the bourbon but with staves from port wine barrels instead of sherry. The port influence is easily noted by the full ruby color of the whiskey. Pleasant toffee and fig aromas lead to lingering almond and allspice scents. Its characteristic cinnamon note is most commonly associated with other MGP ryes (Bulleit and Redemption, in particular). Of the two, the rye also feels hotter on the tongue due to clocking in at around 96-proof. I’d sip this neat during sweater weather or chuck in a few cubes to “tame the flame.” This would be the perfect spirit for a Ward 8 Cocktail.
One Tree Planted
But wait – there’s even more to celebrate! For every bottle sold, Noble Oak plants a tree! Since its inception, Noble Oak has partnered with One Tree Planted to contribute to reforesting in more than 47 countries. And after a full day of whiskey aging and tree planting, what better way to relax than by having a dram to appreciate all that the Noble Oak does for whiskey and the world?