Cask Age Whiskey: Worth waiting for…

The change of the seasons not only means a change in foliage and temperatures outside, but the exchange of our light salads and fruity cocktails for heartier fare and a beverage to warm us from the chilly fall days. We love fall, and this year, our bartenders challenged themselves to create a fall cocktail menu that delivers twists to old classics: twists that are sure to help any body in need of warmth and good cheer.

In keeping with our business model of providing fresh, locally sourced products, El Gaucho bartenders teamed up with local craft distillery, Woodinville Whiskey, to create our own cask-aged whiskey cocktail. After diligently testing, tasting, and playing with flavor combinations, the team landed on a concoction worth serving to the most discerning El Gaucho guest.

When a new whiskey is distilled, it is colorless, and possesses only the flavor and aroma of the grain and the alcohol. It is only through aging in charred oak that the whiskey acquires its color, complexity, and richness of flavor. The “aging” is due to the reactions of the alcohol through the oxidation and extraction of chemicals from the oak.

The most difficult aspect of the entire process is patience. In small batches of a gallon each, it requires at least 4 weeks for the flavors to mellow and work their magic. El Gaucho’s initial batch was made in a 7-gallon container, so you can imagine the team’s excitement when it was finally ripe for serving. Unlike traditional cocktail creation, where you realize immediate results, the team was forced to wait 6 weeks to taste the fruits of their labor. No pressure!

Another important component is the barrel itself, and the type of wood used. Woodinville Whiskey provides gallon size barrels made of American Oak, which is aged for 18-24 months after the tree is cut and is generally denser than European Oak. Barrels are also pre-toasted for 45 minutes prior to charring. This whole process promotes a complex flavor profile, and the smaller barrel size provides a greater surface area to volume ration, because more wood is in contact with the liquid. The end result is a warm, complex cocktail worth waiting for!

AQUA by EL Gaucho and El Gaucho in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue all feature the cask-age whiskey on the Signature Cocktail fall menu. Try the Cask-Aged Manhattan, using our in-house aged Woodinville White Dog Whiskey, with sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, Peychaud’s bitters, and a cherry, or the Sazerac, with Woodinville Whiskey, anisette rinse, simple syrup, bitters, and an orange twist. The Woodinville Cask-Aged Bourbon and Woodinville Rye are also offered on our menu.

Woodinville Whiskey Co. sells Whiskey-making Kits, so after coming in and sampling our version, you can also try your hand at making your own. Check them out online at


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