I’m somewhat of a Slowpoke when it comes to Stranahan’s. Actually I’d call myself a tea totaler when it comes to the distillery. Well… an accidental one, rather.
Mostly because until recently I wasn’t able to pick any of it up. And even then, I’ve been working through samples like a drowning man drinks water. Then /u/devoz [+51] and /u/Jolarbear both teamed up to prove I should be trying it by swapping me a bunch of samples.
So who is Stranahan’s Distillery anyway? Well they’re a craft distillery in Colorado. And they make Single Malts in small batches, but without the bullshit way. Two guys met over a potential barn burner (not a joke).
They have three whiskies out. I’m reviewing three whiskies. Coincidence? Yeah, completely.
So, it’s a small batch, all NAS distiller. Sounds interesting. Let’s see how they taste, shall we?
Stranahan’s Original is up first. It’s named as the Number 1 US Single Malt. Which sounds impressive, until you look at other US Single Malts.
Joking aside, this is a higher Abv. US single malt. It’s non chill filtered, and aged for 2-5 years in #4 charred American New Oak White barrels. Take that with a grain of salt, because I may not have read the chalkboard on the website right.
So it’s young, has a Single Malt recipe, follows all the right things we want from whisky, and has an American kick to it. Sounds pretty cool. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $64.95 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 6/10
Nose: Peach cobbler, mint, cream, banana, toffee, faint then disappears altogether
Initially this has an interesting mix of flavours here. I’m really enjoying the bridge of a Bourbon and a Speyside whisky.
And then it fucks right off. Which was super odd. I kept thinking I was having a stroke, and not the usual fun porn kind. I was a little blown away by that. Kinda annoying.
Taste: Floral, salted caramel, peanut butter, cereal, coconut flakes
Nice salted caramel and dry character to this. Maybe too dry. The cereal notes aren’t my favourite.
Take a note here. This has two notes I’m not the biggest fan of, so I dropped the points on this one. That said, you may enjoy them, so add some points back on. Like 3 points. Have those points. They are yours now.
Finish: Salty, light tobacco, earth, banana, heat, cashew
Nice finish that combines the nose and taste well. It’s a little warm, there’s a little rough points, and as people have read before, I’m not the biggest tobacco fan.
That all said, I think this is a decent, entry level finish, and I’ve had much worse.
Conclusion: So this one is hard to rate. Let me start by saying it deserves the moniker of Best US Single Malt. Because it’s well made, and it shows.
The idea that they used New Oak and have young juice in here is impressive. I’ll even go so far to say this is better than older Single Malts from Scotland that have had more years on them.
That said, it’s hampered by flavours that I don’t like. It also has flavours I love.
Ignoring all that, the only issue I have overall on this one was the nose. And I’m assuming that was just a quirk of the batch.
Or I’m bleeding into my brain. None the less, I like this one, and would be happy to try more.
Oh, look at that. I did.
I may be wrong about Stranahan’s Diamond Peak. Not my review. More so what I’ve read. Because the website was a little hard to read.
From what I can see, this is the same as the Original (above), however they use #3 Char New Oak Barrels, and have it truly as a NAS. At least, again, that’s based on the information I was able to gleam from their website.
So, these are special barrels, hand selected for being distinct.. I’m hoping they mean distinct and tasty, but that’s assumed. No one is walking up to a cask and being like “This tastes of spoiled berries, old socks, and the underside of a Buick… PERFECT!”
Anyway, let’s mount the Diamond Peak, and not in that great Las Vegas way.
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 10YR 7/8
Nose: Caramel, pear, ginger, coconut, cassia buds, noughat
Lighter than the original. Granted it doesn’t just disappear though. More sweets to it, which I’m enjoying. There’s the typical coconut on the nose, which I’m assuming is part of the spirit’s character.
Before anyone asks again: Cassia buds smell like cinnamon, though are notably lighter.
Taste: Cream, pear, lemon zest
Not much to the taste on this one. It’s really simple, which I find odd. No matter how much I drink, I can’t pick out any other flavours.
So.. yeah. It’s that. That’s it. It, has been thated. Moving on.
Finish: Apple, light caramel, lime, coconut oil
Nice light flavour at the end. It’s certainly nice. There’s no roughness, just a little bit of lime.
Not really my thing though. Kinda simple and all that.
Conclusion: This falls under one of those “Not for me” categories. It’s not too complex, it’s super light, and I’m not picking up much other than some citrus and coconut.
I could see drinking it on a hot day, or mixed into an interesting alternative to a Margarita, but otherwise I found it lacking. I much prefer the original in this case.
And finally we have Stranahan’s Snowflake 18 Mount Evans. The idea behind the Snowflake is pretty simple: All of them are cold and are made up of geometric shapes.
Wait, that doesn’t make sense.
Oh, no two Snowflakes are the same. Except they probably are, kinda. No two you have though.
None the less, the whisky is different. They start by aging the whisky just like the original, in #3 New white American oak barrels. Then they add it into wine, sherry, cognac, rum, & tequila barrels.
Note: Not every one of those casks each time. Turns out they use different combinations each year.
Then it’s named after a 14,000 foot peak in Colorado.
This one was aged in three Madeira wine casks, a Port Double-wood cask that originally held Stranahan’s Original, and then they added in a barrel of Stranahan’s four year.
Well that’s nut. I’m excited. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 2.5Y 8/8
Nose: Lemon, mango, birch sap, coconut oil, caramel, cassia buds
Nice dry elements here. Finding out after the fact that there was a good amount of Madeira involved makes sense. There’s a dry sweetness and earth combination on the nose.
Like it so far. Nice for sipping in summer.
Taste: Mango, caramel, cream, faint pineapple
Light. Not a lot of complexity. Mostly fruit and cream. Like that time in College.
It’s nice for sipping in the summer. But you must have already known that.
Finish: Umami, coconut, pineapple, cashew
Really odd finish. It took me quite awhile to identify the initial flavour, as I typically shy away from Umami flavours, because they make you eat more, and I don’t need the help.
Again, fruity, nutty (time in college rehash), and then this interesting Umami flavour. Kinda odd, yet tasty.
Conclusion: I like this dram. I don’t love it. I can’t really say it’s blowing me away, however I’d probably drink it on a regular basis. The Madeira has added interesting angles to something that otherwise feels it wouldn’t be too fun.
Overall nice. Not as nice as the original I had, but nice none the less. I’m interested in this distillery, and hope they make some things older in the future. They do crazy stuff, and I appreciate it, for better or for worse.
Bourbon review #132, Colorado review #1-3, Whiskey Network review #764-766
1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die review #298