It’s time for another experimental, Distillery Exclusive release from Stranahan’s. As always, this starts with Colorado single malt, this time finished for at least three years in red wine casks — a mix of Bordeaux and pinot noir. Total aging time is seven years in barrel, the first four years spent in a Level 4 char new oak barrel.
The pretty honey-orange color of the whiskey is immediately enticing, and the nose has plenty of intrigue to back that up. Pretty citrus, a mix or orange and grapefruit, leads the charge, backed up by a complex mix of vanilla, barrel char, and sugar cookie dough. Spice notes are considerable but not overwhelming, featuring ground ginger and cinnamon prominently.
The palate finds plenty of similarity but also forges its own path, with a sweet nougat attack that kicks things off with an almond cookie note. Enticing and chewy, lighter citrus notes quickly come into focus, then moving more toward a baked apple note — something that’s common in Stranahan’s releases — here showcasing some pie crust surrounding it. Sweet almond, almost like a pastry, is persistent, clinging to the palate well into the finish, which is otherwise sunny and bright, downright juicy.
What I don’t really get in this whiskey — and this is not a complaint — is any sense of the red wine cask, which often imbues the whiskey with a heavily doughy, tannic quality that can be off-putting at times. Perhaps the very lengthy finishing — nearly half its life — has done some magic on that front. Or perhaps it’s just the power of pinot noir.
Regardless, you should probably get a bottle.
A- / $70 / stranahans.com