Gonzalez Byass is an often seen cask in Scottish warehouses. These casks already find their way into making some excellent whisky. As we all know, the best results come from Oloroso casks, so here we have the opportunity to try a nice Oloroso from Gonzalez Byass.
This Oloroso is made of Palomino Fino and Pedro Ximénez (both white grapes!). Up to 95% of all grapes used for sherry is Palomino. Since this Sherry is sweetened with the PX-grape, this is essentially is a cream sherry. Usually three types of Palomino are grown: Palomino Fino, Palomino Basto, and Palomino de Jerez. Of which the first one is considered the best for making Sherry and especially today the latter two are grown less and less. Besides these Palomino’s, only Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes are used for Sherry.
Essentially, there are three types of Sherry:
1. Fino (including Amontillado and Manzanilla)
3. Palo Cortado
Fino Sherries arise under flor. This means that when the must is fermented a ‘flower’ of yeast (flor) grows on the surface, and no oxygen can pass through. This also causes the finished wine to have that fresh yeasty taste.
In Oloroso (‘Scented’) Sherries the flor is suppressed by fortification at an earlier stage. Since the lack of this layer of flor, the Sherry comes in contact with air through the porous walls of oak casks, and undergoes oxidative aging. Due to the ageing, the wine becomes darker and stronger.
Palo Cortado is a rare kind of Sherry and is placed between Fino and Oloroso. Palo Cortado resembles Oloroso in color and taste and has the aromatics of Amontillado (sort of long aged Fino), and it doesn’t arise under flor.
Color: Golden Brown. Amber.
Nose: Nutty and fragrant. Diluted PX, so notes of raisins. Very floral and maybe some fresh wood and vanilla. Toffee. Baked banana. Actually quite nice.
Taste: Sweet and sour, with lots of depth. Clean lemony acidity. Not cloying, thin compared to PX. So I guess not a lot of PX was used, nor should it have been used, to me this seems just right. Actually I quite like this. Easily drinkable and for me a thirst quenching Sherry. Recommended.
I’m quite new to Oloroso’s. I just had only one before and that was a bone dry one. This one, at 17% ABV, has some PX thrown into the mix and therefore is more palatable than the dry one I remember. Time to expand more into Oloroso Sherry, since a new world has just opened itself to me.
By the way, I found out that good bottles of Sherry are far less costly than the most recent offerings of whisky, which seem outrageous. Today a new 21yo Lagavulin (yes Oloroso Casks) costs almost 700 Euro’s. I think I’ll buy some more Sherries tomorrow.