Continuing the discussion from Travels in whisky - recommendations please:
(thought this might stray far enough from “travel” to bust out into a separate thread)
I look at whisky cask finishing/re-racking/etc. in a similar vein to putting seasoning on food - different cask types will bring different influences, and how you go about it can have different effects. Equally, what you’re starting with is hugely relevant to the conversation as well.
To use a poorly thought-out analogy, a friend of mine recently told me about her recent revelation about seasoning steak with baking soda (“velveting”). She waxed lyrical about the tender texture of the meat, and I did some reading on it. “Connoisseurs” have put up youtube videos outlining how while the textural differences are undeniable, the process left an odd aftertaste when applied to an unmolested piece of cheap rump steak (as a control group).
Now - if your preference is to eat your steak with loads of salt & bbq sauce, then you may not experience a taste from the velveting, and instead get the joyful hit of the pillowy texture and those rich sauce flavours. If, however, you’re all about the beefiness and never put anything on your steak, then you’ll probably notice the taste - along with earning the ire of people (myself included) who will contest that an appropriate amount of seasoning brings out so much more beefiness that it heightens the experience.
Maybe a different cut of steak needs less seasoning. Or, maybe it’s some kind of fillet which already has a dreamy texture.
So too with whisky… I’ve spoken to enough distillers/distillery managers/etc. to understand that for me to declare any passionate views on the correctness of a practice are probably a little ill-founded. Some whiskies need a little time in a sherry cask to give them some different notes… some sherry-casked whiskies benefit from time in 1st fill bourbon to taper off their dry/spiciness and give them some sweetness. Some whiskies are so insipid and under-matured that the only way to make a quid out of them is to sink them into a PX cask for 6-18 months and then sell them to those “the-darker-the-better” perverts who I sometimes wonder about whether they actually like whisky or not.
So back to your question - I can’t say I have an answer, because I’ve not tried the whiskies. Tangentially, nor have I opened a WB bottling in many a year - I’ve got a 14yo 1997 Clynelish of his on the go that I opened a few months back, but I’ve mainly been opening & enjoying Whisky Sponge bottlings of late.
If it tastes like the quartercask exposure’s been done to cover up a flavour (BBQ sauce on velveted steak) and you’re not enjoying the texture, etc. then to me that suggests it’s not a bargain.
(Was that too-long a read? Sorry, can’t help myself…)