We’ve been keeping tabs on Iowa’s Cedar Ridge for a while now, most recently covering their QuintEssential Signature Blend, a solera style vatting of their American single malt aged for two years in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in up to 20 different cask types. Today, we’re looking at a special release of Cedar Ridge single malt which appears to undergo a slightly different maturation. Like their other malts, this one is made from 100% 2-row pale malted barley, but it has been aged significantly longer, six years, in ex-bourbon casks. In lieu of the solera style vatting, the final blend here is a mix of that six-year-old single malt aged in first-fill Ruby Port, first-fill Amontillado sherry, and first-fill virgin French oak casks. Let’s check it out.
As you might expect from all those first-fill finishing casks, the aroma here is massive, with tons of fortified wine influence. Things kick off with a wave of lush red fruits – raspberry, strawberry, black cherry – before the malts even arrive, bringing notes of sticky sweet barley sugar and toasted shortbreads. Roasted nuts and fresh baking spice are sprinkled throughout, adding welcome complexity, and as it opens, a big grilled peach note develops. The palate is a little less balanced than the nose, heavy with Port-fueled notes of dunnage floors, oxidized wine, and dark, plummy fruits. Brighter notes of dried apricot and lemon cookies offer some balancing contrast on the midpalate before a warm and unusually savory finish of slivered almonds, berry tart, and peppered bacon. Initially, all those cask finishes felt a bit heavy handed and disjointed, but I really came around to this one over several tastings. It’s a full throttle American single malt not for the faint of heart, but one that’s definitely worth exploring.
A- / $100 / cedarridgedistillery.com