With an official American single malt designation due any day now, Colorado’s Boulder Spirits should be well-positioned to take advantage of the recognition, as their portfolio has been crowded with the style for years. We got our first taste in 2022 with a duo of single malts that were admittedly still a bit rough around the edges. However, a single cask bottling from the distillery was a highlight of indie bottler Lost Lantern’s summer releases. Today, we’re taking a look at a limited-edition bottling dubbed The 10 Essentials. There’s a bit of long backstory to this one, so I’ll let them do the talking.
The 10 Essentials is Boulder Spirits’ second annual limited edition single malt release and is the follow-up to 2022’s The Trailhead, which won a double gold medal at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition earlier this year. The 10 Essentials combines five different casks, including five-year ex-armagnac, -tawny port, and -PX sherry casks with two casks of straight single malt in new American oak. The result is a spice-filled, luscious dram whiskey aged from 5 -6.5 years.
Continuing with the same outdoors theme of The Trailhead, The 10 Essentials refers to the basic necessities needed to survive in the outdoors: navigation, light, shelter, food, fire, a knife, first aid, sun protection, proper clothing, and of course, water. Boulder Spirits’ water source, nearby Eldorado Springs artesian water, is an essential ingredient of this whiskey.
The five casks used in The 10 Essentials were married for eight weeks, then proofed to 49.5% ABV/99 Proof with Eldorado Springs water. The combination of Boulder Spirits’ water, proprietary yeast, and imported barley in this whiskey, aged in Colorado’s intense climate, has created an exceptional single malt with undulations of flavor.
Let’s check out these “undulations.”
The nose is expressive, if a bit restrained for all the finishing casks at play, with a mix of baked apple, golden raisin, and currants showing. Underneath the fruit, a sturdy foundation of shortbread, slivered almonds, and toffee add sweetness and complexity. The palate is assertive with a nice black pepper spice and some winey tannins that quickly give way to sweet notes of barley sugar, nectarine, and dark berries before throttling up on the spice with red pepper and clove. That tingling, lip puckering heat lasts all the way into a generous, dry finish of baking cocoa, cinnamon stick, and tart cherry. Undulations is actually the right word. This is definitely a roller coaster of flavor. An impressive American single malt, but maybe a bit over-spiced for some.
B+ / $65 / boulderspirits.com