Our finish in Cognac casks that have lain on Lambay island in its unique atmosphere and maritime climate have had quite the journey before arriving on our shores. Lambay Whiskey is a new entrant to the craft whiskey sector bringing innovation in taste with a unique cask finish. Camus is the fifth-largest cognac producer in the world founded in 1863, the brand has been passed down through five generations of the Camus family. While our whiskey may be new to the category it comes with generations of expertise. Meet our Cellar Master Mr Yonael Bernard, where we asked him a few of your questions.
So why cognac casks in the first place?
Cognac is one of the richest French Eaux de Vie and oak barrels are the most renowned for their quality in wines and spirits. The combination of both contributes to a very elegant, rich, fruity, subtly woody, toasted taste and with a hint of spiciness. Combining this with the century’s old art of Irish triple distillation and the mix of grain and malt spirit – bourbon barrel matured, was an exciting challenge to take on in terms of creating a new and innovative Irish whiskey taste.
How old are the cognac casks used for Lambay?
Most people ask me this and it remains a trade secret but we do like to say that the age of the barrels is not related to the quality. To allow us the flexibility we use new and aged cask, but the most importantly is the quality of the ex- cognac in the cask.
Where do Lambay whiskey casks come from and what unique qualities do they bring to the whiskey?
All casks come from Camus Distillery, la Nerolle in Cognac France.
Our casks are very special as they are made from the French Oak which are quite famous in the world to produce very qualitative wines and spirits.
Moreover, they come from the cellars of the family-owned company Maison Camus in Cognac and are normally used to contain an Eaux-de-Vie made from grape, not a distillate made from barley.
Therefore, these casks carefully selected by myself, are from French oak having contained Camus cognac for several years bringing a unique finish: very elegant, rich, fruity, with a hint of wood and spiciness.
Other vital elements that enhance the unique taste profile of Lambay whiskey, are the sea and the maritime winds. Having a finish in our Sea Cask Room close to coastline on Lambay, our Single Malt whiskey casks are influenced by the maritime climate creating whiskeys that are well balanced and pleasant to taste.
Are they re-charred before being used for whiskey?
No, and for good reason, this will eliminate/remove all the cognac absorbed in the wood of the casks. It would inevitably dry the barrel, therefore, losing all the flavour that would impact the whiskey when filled.
What are the typical notes of a Cognac Cask?
New cask: Note of toasted, vanilla, roasted coffee
Older cask: It depends on the age of the Cognac inside. Notes of râncio, dry fruits, long, hint of wood. Râncio is actually a word which comes from Portugal, used to describe characteristics of port wine during the maturing process. The Rancio Charantais is used to describe Cognac and appears after roughly 10 years of ageing in oak casks.