What does finishing mean?
FINISHING - varied taste
Unlike wine, where the vintages of the same winemaker's grape can taste very different every year standard bottlings of barrel matured spirits such as whisky or rum always have the "same", brand-specific taste.
Since the wood of the barrels does not always give off the same aroma, several hundred barrels of the same distilled and matured spirit are mixed together before bottling in order to be able to offer the consumer the familiar taste experience.
Finishing - an explanation using the example of whisky
The finishing or refining of whisky means that a distillery transfers its whisky from one type of barrel to another after a certain time of maturation.
This "secondary maturation" increases the complexity of the whisky.
Sherry casks, which are typically rich in notes of dried fruits and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, are often used.
This represents a taste contrast to the vanilla and toffee notes of ex-bourbon barrels.
Red wine, port wine, cognac, rum and even tequila barrels can also be used for the finishing.
Distilleries around the world are finishing their whiskies in alternatives
barrels, but the phenomenon didn't attract attention until the 1980s when manufacturers like Balvenie began giving their bourbon barrel-aged whiskiess a second aging in ex-sherry casks.
According to the law, Scotch whisky must be stored in oak cask for at least three years before it can be bottled.
Since (longer) storage time also means “dead capital”, manufacturers also bottle
Whikies that wern´t matured for a very long period of time. This bottelings are often found on the shelves as “standard” whiskies.
Usually, however, the maturation takes longer and the finishing is an extension
The barrel used for the finishing must have been freed from any liquid beforehand.
The change in taste of the distillate that has now been poured in results only from its interaction with the wood of the barrel or that remaining flavors from the staves.
In essence, finishing a whiskey is an opportunity to play with flavors and add new aromatic elements to a solid product.
This process is currently difficult to measure.
Your taste buds are therefore the best barometer.