Review: Wolves Whiskey Malted Barley Lot 2 and Winter Run Batch 3

Review: Wolves Whiskey Malted Barley Lot 2 and Winter Run Batch 3

Wolves Whiskey hit the scene in 2019 with both an unexpected mission and a surprising fanfare. Founded by two footwear magnates and leaning on the distilling prowess of Charbay‘s Marko Karakasevic, the outfit drew a lot of its playbook from Charbay’s longtime program of making whiskey out of beer.

Things have since exploded for the brand — which has released more than a dozen expressions in just a few years on the market. None of them area available in stores. You’ll need to sign up for Wolves’ allocation list on its website if you want to buy any of these.

Needless to say, things are getting complex and a bit hard to follow at Wolves, but we’re trying to keep up. Today we look at two winter releases for the 2023 holiday season. Get ’em while you can.

Wolves Whiskey Malted Barley Series Lot No. 2 – 11 year old distillate, made from 9 barrels (with an extra barrel held back for future use). Made from (non-beer) Irish malts fermented with California yeast, pot distilled and aged in new American oak at a range of toast levels from light to char #3. Wrapped in a black, UV-printed sheepskin label. The impact of charred oak on single malt is unmistakable here, the whiskey offering an aggressively woody nose that punches with elements of black pepper, saddle leather, burnt hay, and increasingly persistent notes of raisiny barleywine. Mildly Port-like on the palate, with a dried fruit attack followed by alternating layers of well-toasted grain and seasoned wood. Warming but not overtly hot, it benefits greatly from a splash of water, which helps the otherwise disparate flavor elements to gel more cleanly and tempers a lingering, gritty tobacco quality. It’s tough to get away from the charred notes — always an issue with single malt aged in new oak barrels, especially for this length of time — and the finish lays it on pretty thick. Things are rescued by all that rich, almost prune-like fruit that punctuates the whole experience, though this remains an unusual and offbeat experience that will probably be most agreeable to fans of high-proof rye rather than classic single malt enthusiasts. 110 proof. B+ / $305

Wolves Whiskey Winter Run Batch No. 3 – This is a blend of three whiskeys distilled from beer, plus a rye: a 2017 pilsner aged in French oak, a 2015 pilsner aged in American oak, a 2013 stout aged in French oak, and a 2015 rye (presumably aged in new American oak). Features a grey nubuck label. What an immediately lively and lovely whiskey this is, reminding me a lot of Wolves Signature release from last year. It’s brightly fruity on the nose with dried apples paired against notes of cloves and nutmeg, herbal hops, and toasty granary notes. Char is present but tempered by a raisiny quality and notes of burnt sugar cookies. Immediately grassy, then hoppy, on the palate, it threads the needle between beer-distilled and classic rye whiskey, with sweetness holding steady. The experience slowly opens up to reveal notes of black cherry, mandarin oranges, and Earl Grey tea, its fruit building while floral notes develop alongside. The finish is clean, quite fruit-forward and hoppy in roughly equal proportions, making for an always exciting and shape-shifting experience. 106 proof. 1499 bottles produced. A- / $220

Wolves Whiskey Malted Barley Series Lot No. 2




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.