Independent whiskey bottler Lost Lantern has been busy of late. We already covered their spring releases for 2022, which comprised four different bottlings, but for their summer collection, Lost Lantern is offering a whopping seven different single casks from six different distilleries, their largest collection to date. And there are quite a few winners in this group. Let’s check them out.
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #5: McCarthy’s 3-Year-Old Oregon Peated Single Malt Whiskey – It’s been a very long time since we tasted McCarthy’s, and here we have a 3-year (technically almost 4-year) cask strength offering to jog our memory. The brand claims to be the first American single malt producer but uses Old World ingredients – barley from the UK malted with Islay peat – which they then ferment, distill, and age in Oregon. The nose is heavily peated with plenty of brine, sea spray, and ashy smoke in the mix. With some time to breathe, notes of new leather and sweet, dry oak soften some of the punchier coastal elements. The palate is big and syrupy with initial notes of maple candies and a bit of fudge sauce that become fruiter with raspberry jam into the mid-palate. The smoke and Band-Aid notes are nicely interwoven, turning to a sweetly smoldering beachside barbecue on the generous, and still well-spiced, finish. The standout offering of the entire summer collection. 240 bottles produced. 114.1 proof. A / $90
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #6: Frey Ranch Distillery Nevada Three Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey – One of the first three-grain bourbons to come from this darling of Nevada craft distilling and, like all of Frey Ranch’s whiskies, made entirely with estate grown grains. The nose is bright and spicy with notes of sweet jackfruit, RedHots, and fresh mint. The palate is a bit of a departure from the aroma, more oak-driven with spicy sandalwood and sawn lumber notes that turn a touch gritty into the mid-palate. There’s some subtle fruit and baking spice underneath all that wood, mostly dark cherry and cinnamon sugar, but the warming finish struggles to find a good balance among it all. 196 bottles produced. 118.2 proof. B+ / $100
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #7: Starlight Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey – We’ve already encountered a single cask Starlight bourbon offered directly from the distillery, but this marks our first independent bottling from the upstart Indiana distillery. The aroma is initially sharp with dry oak before coalescing around gentler notes of barrel char and some juicy tangerine. The palate is sweet with citrus zest, apricot, and caramel apple, turning creamier into the midpalate with a bit of vanilla fudge. The oak, domineering at first, finds its rhythm as the finish arrives with soft baking spice notes and lingering cinnamon sugar. 208 bottles produced. A- / $80
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #8: Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey – According to Lost Lantern’s founders, the goal of their program is to offer cask strength expressions that reflect a distillery’s particular profile as well as expressions that are more unique and experimental. This expression, a classic example of Dad’s Hat rye whiskey aged five years, is Lost Lantern’s first from the Pennsylvania distillery. The nose shows more maturity than our first encounter with the aroma, expectedly bolder at cask strength, showing less of a burly wood note – surprisingly little wood at all, actually – and more bright, grassy wintergreen dusted in powdered sugar. The palate punches with a little more oak but it is well-integrated, offering up caramel sauce and barrel char to balance against bold clove and candied lemon notes. The finish, spicy and warming, is full of sweet mint and cinnamon candies. 188 bottled produced. A- / $90
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #9: Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in a Vermouth Cask – Now for the unusual counterpoint from Dad’s Hat. This release was made by finishing the distillery’s 4-year-old straight rye for five months in ex-vermouth casks. Immediately more muted on the nose than the classic rye with a subtle, stone fruit sweetness and even softer notes of mint and exotic spice. The finishing has given the palate a nice roundness but there’s just a bit too much going on. The green, earthy notes – grass and damp soil – bump up against sweeter mint and baking spice, never quite finding harmony and turning tart into a finish of black pepper and sour cherry. It really does come close to working. But not quite. 119 bottles produced. B+ / $110
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #10: St. George Spirits California Single Malt Whiskey – St. George, recognized as the country’s very first “craft” distillery, has been making American single malt for over 20 years, and somehow, we haven’t managed to review it formally. This expression was distilled on their pot still and aged in new oak for just under four years. There’s a bright, almost white wine quality to the nose with notes of lemon curd, green apple, and linen. The palate is oily and heavy with a unique floral character showcasing notes of orange blossom honey, white flowers, and grassy spice. The oak arrives mid-palate and gentle with soft baking spice notes that erode into a long buttery finish of vanilla bean and lemon custard. One of the more unusual American single malts I’ve encountered, but I’m digging it. 215 bottles produced. 106.7 proof. A- / $160
Lost Lantern 2022 Single Cask #11: Balcones Distilling Texas Single Malt Aged in a Tequila Barrel – The last cask on Lost Lantern’s summer list is perhaps the most unusual of all. This is a single malt from pioneering Texas whisky-maker Balcones that has been aged five years in a used tequila cask that previously held the distillery’s Rumble offering, a spirit made with honey, figs, and sugar. Sounds pretty weird. And it is. The aroma is funky with treacle, overcooked caramel, Honey Grahams, and a vague, vegetal note that turns greener, almost like lime skin, as it opens in the glass. The palate is sweet, really sweet, with both sugary cereal notes and agave syrup. A bit of citrus and red pepper attempt to add some less saccharine contrast but quickly relent to a sugar cookie-filled finish. Too much candy shop in this bottle. 126 bottles produced. 129 proof. B / $120