Stranahan’s Sherry Cask Finish Whiskey
Stranahan’s, a popular American single malt whiskey distillery out of Colorado, has long been a leader in this particular category of whiskey. Their core offerings for sometime have been the flagship bottling and Diamond Peak. It seems therefore like it is time to add something else to the mix, and indeed they have, debuting a new sherry cask finished whiskey to the line up.
Dietrich needed to use such well-worn casks to extract enough flavor to impact the whiskey. American single malts have intense, bold flavors in comparison with their Scottish brethren, and a lot of that comes from the newly charred casks used to age new whiskey (the scots use ex-bourbon casks, which will have already had several years worth of flavor extracted by bourbon).
The new Stranahan’s Sherry Cask, according to those behind it, starts as the flagship American single malt whiskey that’s aged for four years in new white American oak barrels after being distilled from 100% malted barley and Rocky Mountain water. From there it is then cask finished in Spanish Oloroso sherry barrels, sourced from the Andalusia region of southern Spain. These barrels are said to have been aging wine for over 40 years, thus giving the whiskey an extra special flavor.
“We tested the Oloroso Sherry cask-finished whiskey last year at our first annual Cask Thief festival and our fans and family loved it,” said Stranahan’s master distiller Rob Dietrich in a prepared statement.. “That’s when we knew we had to bring it to the national market. I’m really excited to add this expression to our lineup of whiskeys and help expand and showcase just how special American Single Malt whiskey is and what it can bring to the world stage.”
Nose: An expanse of over-ripe cherry, sweet apple, raisins, almonds, leather and fresh-cut hay
Palate: Honey, Montmorency cherries, blackcurrant and fig, with a nutty brine and walnut characteristics
Finish: Buttery caramel, whipped creme, brown sugar and smoked cayenne
The resulting whiskey is an endless well of flavor. At the beginning it’s rich and dessert-like: tons of cherry pie notes, raisins, with walnuts and a hint of leather echoing in the background. By the end it’s syrupy warm and sweet, with brown sugar, caramel and toffee notes.
It’s a brilliant example of American single malt style—bold flavors from grain and barrel, a good balance of age and youth, and a vibrant polish of cask finishing. American single malts aren’t necessarily bound by the same rules as Scottish, Japanese, or Irish ones, and as the style grows in popularity, releases like this one demonstrate the endless potential of one of the U.S.’s growing whiskey categories.