Last summer Monica brought us coverage of the first edition of a curious combo from Colorado’s single malt purveyor Stranahan’s, a Distillery Exclusive bottling finished for 2 1/2 years in extra anejo tequila barrels.
Now this expression is back and bottled as a second batch under the annually released Diamond Peak line — though it the indication of batch #2 on the label may be a little confusing to some looking at last year’s unrelated Diamond Peak release (which was finished in Irish whiskey barrels).
This year’s Diamond Peak is denoted as Batch #2 of the Extra Añejo Tequila Cask, “a result of a marriage between Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, American Single Malt Whiskey leader and innovator, and Reserva de la Familia, the world’s first and finest extra añejo tequila made from the Jose Cuervo family’s special reserves.” This expression will not necessarily be repeated again, mind you. There’s no telling if a Batch 3 is in the works or what the 2024 Diamond Peak will bring us.
That said, Batch 2’s formula seems largely the same as it did in 2022: 5 to 8 year old Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey that then spends just over 2 years in Cuervo Reserva de Familia Extra Añejo tequila casks (which surely held bourbon in them before that).
My thoughts with this expression fall largely in line with Monica’s experience from ’22: fresh apple cider notes are immediate on the nose, with tequila barrel-driven notes of cinnamon and just a hint of vegetal agave underneath. The single malt essence is a little washed out by the tequila influence, though there’s a slightly bready quality in the background that manages to push through an otherwise aggressive aromatic profile.
On the palate, I was struck by the fruity sweetness of the whiskey, which doubles down on the baked apples and cinnamon, then layers in notes of vanilla and gingerbread. Complex but very heavy with baking spice elements, the cayenne pepper qualities start to grip as the palate fades into finish, with a distinct Mexican chocolate note lingering.
I liked this more than Monica, but it’s a big step away from expectations, either from American whiskey or Stranahan’s in general. Just as my colleague put it last year: “not a bad change of scenery.”
B+ / $80 / stranahans.com