The Magic of Cask Finishing in Spirits

July 13, 2022

By Jeremy Nevins PhD

Secondary cask finishing is becoming a popular way to accentuate flavors of a base spirt. The concept is fairly simple for the most part you take a good or young base sprit out of its standard storage condition and place it in a barrel that has been used for maturing other spirits, wine, beer, or other aged products. This process allows the marrying of the two flavors and create a premium version of the base spirit. Some large spirit companies like Angel Envy have used this model as their corner stone of their business while others, like Jameson with their beer barrel Caskmates and Crested series or Bushmills with their Rum and Port finished options, use these as special releases or, in the case of the port finished 1792 by Sazerac, as a limited release.

But how do you know what the final marrying of the flavors will taste? The current method is based on trained sense of master blenders and trial. Typically, the secondary cask finishes take 6-18 after aging in the primary barrel to complete a secondary cask finishing. This makes a long aging process even longer and tough to iterate.

One large benefit of the filtering and finishing technology developed at Next Century Spirits is our ability to complete very fast iterations that are repeatable and can scale to larger production runs.

In order to demonstrate this ability of the filtering and finishing technology some of our Research, Beverage Development, and Operations team members took their hand at creating their own secondary finished products using various starting spirit bases of various ages.


The results were amazing! There were wide variety of sensory profiles developed using some traditional and non-traditional secondary finishes.

There were eight entries in total that our internal sensory judging panel tasted through.


At the end of the competition, the sensory panel picked the top 4 and awarded a winner of the “friendly” competition. The winner being a Cold Brew Coffee secondary finished whiskey blend which had notes of coffee, toffee, and caramel by the judges.


If you are interested in making your own brand or taking your current brand to the next level of complexity, contact our team and let our very talented team to help you create the next great traditional or unique secondary finish product!

About the Author

Dr. Jeremy Nevins serves as the Technical Group Leader for Next Century Spirits and oversees our Quality Control, Technical Sales Support, Research and Development, and Engineering teams. Prior to joining NCS in 2020 Jeremy managed a team of engineers and research projects for various service branches with AURA Technologies, a defense contractor in Raleigh, NC

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