Review: Clear Creek McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt 3 Years Old

One sip — heck, one sniff — of McCarthy’s whiskey and you’d swear it was fresh off the boat from a foggy distillery on the shores of Islay instead of in Portland, Oregon. The only hint that you’re drinking something different is the pale gold color, a signal of a relatively short time in cask — in this case, a mere three years in wood.

McCarthy’s certainly works to be traditionalist: It’s made from Scottish barley, it’s peated (quite a bit), and aged in old sherry barrels (though real Scotch is normally aged in old bourbon casks… details, details).

Clear Creek says that it resembles Lagavulin in style, but I think it’s better. What Stephen McCarthy has achieved here is a richly peated whisky — redolent with iodine, salt, and smoke — that still has some balance to it. There’s a touch of citrus-like sweetness here; orange, mostly, and a little banana too, with a honey kicker. There’s a touch of pepper in there, too.

The finish is surprisingly mild and a little sweet, making this whiskey impressive in its overall structure and balance. I got a touch of bitterness in a few sips early on. Let it aerate for a bit and you’ll find McCarthy’s nothing but charming.

80 proof.



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8 Responses

  1. Edoc February 24, 2009 / 6:28 am

    Thanks, sounds promising. I’ll definitely seek this out.

  2. Christopher Null February 24, 2009 / 8:00 am

    I should add that the company says they’re sold out until August 2009. :(

  3. Edoc February 24, 2009 / 12:45 pm

    Yeah. That might be something you want to mention up-front. Your call.

  4. Castro April 29, 2009 / 12:25 pm

    A great whisky, comparable to anything that Islay has to offer. The youth adds a great freshness. I just wanted to comment that Bourbon is a relatively new spirit, barely breaks the 200 mark whereas scotch and sherry have been seeing each other for over 1000 years. But like you said, Details. Also this product is readily available at specialty retail stores, take it easy there Edoc.

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