Lost Lantern is a fairly new independent bottler of American whiskeys, and it lately seems to have really hit its stride. For Spring 2022, it’s dropping four new single cask whiskeys, some with some truly unusual finishing applied. We were fortunate enough to get the full quartet — none of which yielded more than 272 bottles — for review. Let’s give them all a try.
Lost Lantern Single Cask #1 2022: Smooth Ambler West Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Toasty, slightly smoky, and a bit green on the nose, with notes of tobacco and lots of frontier-style barrel char. Based on the aromatics, things feel like they’re going to remain pretty savory throughout, but the palate lightens and sweetens up a little, offering light notes of sesame oil, lemon peel, and a spicy layer of grains of paradise. The wood doesn’t let up on the enduring, forever finish, though layers of vanilla caramels and chai spice manage to push their way into focus periodically. 123 proof. 195 bottles produced. B- / $80
Lost Lantern Single Cask #2 2022: Westward Oregon Single Malt Whiskey Finished in a Chardonnay Cask – Darker in color than you’d expect. The nose is quite wood-forward but tempered by quite a bit of baking spice, and a ruddy earthiness that pushes on the cloves and notes of dried black tea leaves. The palate is similar in its construction, a winey, oxidized character coming into focus with some time in glass. It certainly doesn’t evoke chardonnay, but rather has a distinct Amontillado sherry-like quality to it. Punchy with pepper and some citrus peel on the finish. While not universally lovable, it’s altogether unusual and intensely curious as the glass is emptied. 120.9 proof. 272 bottles produced. B+ / $130
Lost Lantern Single Cask #3 2022: Frey Ranch Distillery Nevada Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey – This straight shot of cask strength Frey Ranch bourbon offers all everything one has come to expect from this upstart distillery, including a nose laced with brown sugar and lots of spice, plus plenty of barrel char to keep the sweetness in check. Hot on the tongue but tempered with more brown sugar, the clove notes are heavy on this beast, with ample lumberyard coming into focus late in the game. A bit tight and less sweet than the recent single barrel release we saw from the distillery, the finish here runs toward greener pastures, evoking a touch of green bean and asparagus — which isn’t the best way to end things. 123.9 proof. 188 bottles produced. B+ / $100
Lost Lantern Single Cask #4 2022: Spirit Works California Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in a Sloe Gin Cask – Sloe gin finish? That’s a new one for me… though Spirit Works also makes a really nice sloe gin in addition to whiskey. Tons and tons of fruit on the nose here as you’d expect, though it’s not immediately distinguishable as sloe gin. Spicy and laden with notes of raspberry, the underlying whiskey is actually hard to pick out, though with time in glass it reveals notes of fresh cereal and some barrel char influence. The palate offers many of the same elements, quite sweet and showcasing a strongly fruity experience that features lots of red berries, gingerbread and baking spice, and a mild barrel influence. Again, pegging this as whiskey might be hard if you didn’t know what you were getting into, though some water here isn’t a bad idea, helping to temper the exuberance of the fruit and allow some of the underlying rye spice to emerge — particularly on the lingering, almost minty finish. Finishing whiskey in liqueur barrels doesn’t always work perfectly — see Parker’s curacao-finished bourbon as an example — but this unique bottling is decidedly worth a try, particularly if you have a sweet tooth. 113 proof. 207 bottles produced. A- / $100