Milk & Honey – Sherry Cask

And the winner is… Milk & Honey Elements Sherry Cask! The World Whiskies Awards 2023 have made the winners known and this year’s Best Single Malt Whisky doesn’t come from Scotland (or Japan), but all the way from Israel. What an amazing achievement for the lovely people behind the brand. I can’t congratulate them enough and I have to say, it’s well deserved!

 The thought and attention that went into this product shows an amount of dedication and determination that I find truly inspiring. Not in the least because this is a Kosher Single Malt Whisky finished in Sherry Casks! For those wondering what that means exactly I will try to highlight two aspects that make it a challenge to produce such a spirit.

What makes a whisky kosher?

First, according to kosher law, Jewish-owned companies need to sell all products made from primary grains prior to Passover each year. Which is not an easy thing to do when it comes to whisky, as grain is its main component, and it needs to age several years to become (good quality) whisky. A challenge that may be circumvented by selling the ageing product to a non-Jewish person for the duration of Passover. A solution that will need to be closely watched by the authorities to maintain the Kosher certification. I’m not sure it this is the way Milk & Honey kept their ageing whiskies Kosher, but I know that this is a solution employed by Buffalo Trace for their Kosher Whiskies.

Secondly, what makes this Milk & Honey extra special is the fact that it’s been aged in Sherry Casks. A finish that is rarely implemented in Kosher whiskies. The reason for that is because the product that went into the barrel before it was used to age whisky, needs to be Kosher as well. Otherwise, the Single Malt will lose its Kosher certification as soon as it enters the barrel. And for wine finished this can be rather a challenge to check. Determined to include sherry finishing in their whiskies, the Milk & Honey team got two rabbis to oversee the production of 50.000 litres of sherry in Jerez, so these barrels could be used to mature Kosher Milk & Honey whisky.

It would have been so much easier for Milk & Honey to exclude sherry casks from their maturation process. But the passion and determination they put into their work paid off in the end. As now they are the proud owner of the World’s Best Single Malt Whisky. High time to give this dram a review!

Tasting Notes: Milk & Honey Elements – Sherry Cask
Stats:

ABV: 46% (92 proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Milk & Honey

Owned by: GKI Group

Category: Israeli Single Malt Whisky

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

It’s a rather grey Sunday and I decided to brighten my day a bit with a walk near the lake with the dogs. Sadly, Max (my youngest dog) seems to have gotten injured during the walk a bit (we don’t know what happened) which leave me a bit worried about him. Perhaps not the best mood to enjoy a whisky, but then again if I wait for the perfect setting for every whisky review, I’d only get a handful done a year. On the bright side, this dram might just be the thing to lift my spirits a little. So, let’s pour it neat into a Glencairn and set about reviewing this Milk & Honey Sherry Cask.

Nose:

The nose of this dram immediately comes off as very rich and filled to the brim with fruit. Dried cranberries, raisins, strawberries, plums, and figs all have a place in the nose of this dram. Giving a very clear sense of Christmas cake to this dram. Not a note we often recognise in the Netherlands, which is why I picked one up last Christmas, just to see what those notes are all about. And while nosing this dram, I fully understand them. There’s a little layer of powdered sugar that I’m finding here as well, and it proves to be the perfect finish on a wonderful dessert-like treat of a dram. Water brings forth hints of juniper, and an ever so slight fern note.

Palate:

The palate brings a lot of body to this whisky, more than you might have expected from the nose. There are some dark (slightly) bitter notes to this whisky, that balance the sweeter elements out beautifully. I’m finding fresh cherries, dried strawberries, and red grapes, paired with oak, liquorice root and a little bit of sulphur. There’s a heavy cream mouthfeel to this dram that makes me feel as if I’m experiencing these flavours infused in a tasty panna-cotta. Water really dials down the darker influences of this dram and instead makes the fruity qualities very creamy. Like sipping a cream soda.

Finish:

The finish sticks with you for a long time, and it does so in an ever so pleasant manner. The sulphury and oaky notes are very mildly present here and just like they did on the palate, they bring a beautiful balance to the flavours of these drams. The cherries and strawberry are apparent once more on top of which I’m also finding some pomegranate as well. Water makes the finish much softer as well and adds a red wine-like note that I can truly appreciate. Sadly, it does take some of the intensity away from the finish.

Verdict:

It’s not hard to see why this dram was so highly regarded by the judges from the World Whiskies Awards. This is a dram without any apparent flaws, and I suspect most whisky lovers around the world would often pop its cork if they had a bottle of it on their shelves. I would like to add that I don’t find this the most challenging dram out there, and personally I do look for that in a dram. For that reason alone, I would prefer the Dead Sea Cask from Milk & Honey for example.

But as a crowd pleaser I see this scoring very high marks indeed. Plus, it’s available and affordable. And with a nice background story as well! How cool is it to pour your friends a Kosher Sherry Cask Single Malt from Israel. Especially when you can convince some Scotch lovers out there that there’s more to the world of Single Malt than just Scotland. Congratulations again to Milk & Honey, for this wonderful Award-winning dram!

Rating:

88/100

Value:

B+

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