Corked Whisky

Many people have experienced the funk of the dreaded cork taint when sitting down to taste their favorite bottle of wine.  You pull the cork and there it is, hitting you square in the nose - musty, dirty earth penetrating your nostrils, bristling your nose hairs.  The disappointment sets in as you realize that the TCA (short for the responsible bacteria) has likely ravaged the flavor from every molecule of the wine, rendering it useless and, more importantly, tasteless.  TCA cork taint can manifest itself in a powerful and obvious form, or be so subtle as to be nearly untraceable.  If a wine is almost tasteless, but no TCA aromas are present, the wine may still be flawed and affected.  A "corked" bottle of wine has nothing to do with the quality of the cork, but rather the bacteria growing inside of it - a cork that crumbles and breaks from age is expected, but not one that reeks of shower mold. 

While cork taint is an inconvenient, yet necessary part of wine bottling (unless you buy screwcaps!), few people associate it with whisky.  It is rare, but it has been known to happen.  For example, a few hours ago I opened a bottle of our new Aberlour 18 Year Single Barrel Cask Strength whisky and gave it a nosing.  My worst fears were confirmed when I tasted the malt and was left with a finish of stewed vegetables and dirt, rather than sweet grains and honey.  Remember, that TCA can ruin high alcohol products like whisky as well.  I've had a corked bottle of Bruichladdich "Rocks" before, but this was my first encounter since then.  Don't hesitate to bring a bottle back to us for testing if you're ever unsure about the flavor.  If there is cork in the bottle, there is aways the possibility of bacteria in the cork.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll