Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Stranahan’s can count itself among the first American single malts – a spirit that, in my opinion, finds its gold standard in Scotch whisky. American styles tend to taste quite different, however, and much of it has to do with intent. Like any spirit, terroir does have an effect. Our grains, malting process (or choice to import), yeast, and water all have a huge effect on the finished product. Equipment here is generally newer, made specific to the distillery, as opposed to being purchased or inherited from a long-silent operation. And speaking of, the acquisition of silent distilleries is often accompanied by barrels of aged product to be used in blending. In the New World, we’re starting from scratch.
And Stranahan’s leans into all of that.
Stranahan’s distills and ages all of their whiskey in Denver, CO, and is proud of being a “Rocky Mountain single malt.” The water used in their products is locally sourced, and the direct result of snowmelt from the mountain range. The first expression came out in 2004, though the founders had been making whiskey for years already. The experience and thoughtful approach have made Stranahan’s among the best-selling American single malts.
The Diamond Peak expression is a yearly release, each one utilizing a different and unique cask finish. The 2023 expression is only the second in the line, with the first expression finished in whiskey casks from Bushmills. Besides interesting cask finishes, the line is utilizing longer aging and finishing times. The Irish cask expression (reviewed here) saw a minimum of seven years between initial aging and finishing, while this expression spends five to years in American oak, then over two years in the finish.
This year’s bottle comes out of an extra anejo tequila cask. For some tequila logistics – blanco/plata/silver means un-aged (or very slightly rested), reposado is “rested” for two months to a year, and anejo ages between one and three years. Extra anejo is simply anything past that. The tequila cask in question comes from Jose Cuervo, particularly their Reserve de Familia line, the small batch and highest quality products the company makes.
I have to admit, I’m not the kindest or most forgiving soul towards the American single malt. I really think the problem is that I got spoiled on a lot of good Scotch way too early. Generally, the younger age on American expressions just doesn’t make as good of a product, and we don’t have a lot of examples of American single malts with higher age statements (which makes sense, considering the cost associate with sitting on product). But I’ve always liked Stranahan’s. I think they do make a good product, and have an edge in the market.
Tasting Notes: Stranahan’s Diamond Peak 2023 Extra Anejo Tequila Cask
Vital Stats: 45%ABV; limited release; 100% malted barley; 750mL
Appearance: Translucent, pure gold. Fast, scattered legs.
Nose: Floral, lightly sweet. A touch of spicy pepper. After a few minutes there’s an element of cherry. There are not a lot of particularly strong notes coming through, which adds to the complexity rather than detracts from it.
Palate: Similar complexity to the nose, with the effect being more cumulative than bold notes popping up. A light sweetness flows through, with a vegetal note briefly coming through at first. Some creamy vanilla adds to the sweetness then mellows out. Black pepper on the mid-palate becomes white pepper on the finish, which is fairly short. The short finish is grounded in cereal grain notes coming through, closer to wheat cereal than a malt character.
Read the full article at Whiskey Review: Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Extra Anejo Tequila Cask