After a recent visit to Stranahan’s for the release of their highly sought-after Snowflake expression (review soon to come) I happened to ask founder Jess Graber a simple question, “Is Snowflake the release you’re most proud of?” After a moment’s reflection Jess replied, “No, that would be The Osopher.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Stranahan’s The Osopher, you’re not alone. I asked a few other folks at the distillery about it before I got the full story from Jason Levinson, who is both the current Whiskey Educator for Proximo Spirits and Tour Guide/Distiller for Stranahan’s. Jason shared with me that The Osopher is Stranahan’s most limited expression to date, with only 450 bottles produced – all of which sold out in less than 72 hours. He then directed me to their website for the story behind why it’s one of Jess Graber’s personal favorites.
The site reads:
To celebrate their shared history and commemorate their founder George Stranahan, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey and Flying Dog Brewery created two new specialty products for what they call The Osopher project. Having collaborated over the years to share beer mash and barrels, The Osopher project marks the first joint product release for the two companies.
For this launch, using three of Stranahan’s 10-year-old whiskey barrels, Flying Dog has brewed The Osopher, an imperial version of Road Dog, one of the first beers George Stranahan ever crafted for the brewery in its 34-year history. Road Dog is also the beer mash used in the original Stranahan’s Whiskey. Once the barrels were emptied and the beer was bottled, Flying Dog sent back the barrels for Stranahan’s with which to fill a new batch of whiskey with an accelerated aging process. The result from Stranahan’s is The Osopher, the oldest whiskey Stranahan’s has ever put in a bottle. The Osopher stays true to both George Stranahan’s passion for creativity and the Stranahan’s distillery’s commitment to innovating American Single Malt Whiskey. With 11 years of aging and four months spent in Imperial Porter barrels, this is the oldest release ever bottled by Stranahan’s.
To this day The Osopher remains the oldest whiskey ever released by Stranahan’s, but in addition to that it marks the professional and personal connection between Jess Graber and co-founder George Stranahan, who passed away in May 2021. It’s a touching story that goes beyond the typical limited edition collaboration among brands, though what matters above all else ultimately is how it tastes.
Once in the glass I discovered that the brand’s nosing notes — coffee cake, toffee, toasted malt, and barrel char — were very much aligned with my own. I also picked up aromas such as dark chocolate, nutmeg, and cinnamon, along with sweeter notes of honeysuckle, pink sugar cookies, and cherry saltwater taffy. With an intriguing interplay between light confectionery aromas and the darker, more beer-inflected notes, I was curious to see how they would combine on the palate.
Fortunately, the fusion was a complete success as my mouth was met with clover honey, rich malted chocolate, cinnamon, and even a surprising splash of pineapple upside-down cake. After spending more time with this whiskey I found the brand’s notes again rang true: sherry-soaked golden raisins can be found along with bread pudding and barleywine. In addition to those flavors I picked up the faintest indication of almond butter on the finish, making this one of the more enjoyable and unique whiskeys I’ve had in recent memory.
It’s a shame this release was ultra-limited and unlikely to be replicated, but if you’re ever able to track down a sample of it I would highly recommend savoring the opportunity. One can only hope any future collaborations between Stranahan’s and Flying Dog Brewery will produce similar results.
A / $160 / stranahans.com