Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Dogfish Head. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
All whiskey starts its liquid life as beer (OK, you could argue for ‘water,’ but that’s splitting hairs). How often do you think about beer when you sip a favorite dram (OK, again, if you drink a back or write about whiskey, it’s probably pretty often, but I digress)? Well, that lack of attention is unlikely when you’re drinking whiskey from Dogfish Head Distilling Company.
Dogfish Head started life as a brewery in 1995 (OK, again again, a brewpub, but stick with me). The smallest craft brewery, in fact, in the whole country. Get this: they started out brewing on three little repurposed kegs powered by propane burners underneath, to net 12-gallon batches of beer. Twelve gallons at a time! To supply a beachside restaurant! In SUMMER! The business owner in me can’t help but be charmed by this bootstrappy insanity.
Anyway, they survived that season, and in 2002 saw the shapely lines of a pot still hidden in the guise of a junked stainless steel tank. Thus began their evolution into a brewery-distillery.
Guided by a fascination with ingredients, they churned out gins, vodkas (of course), rums, brandies and even canned cocktails. In the last few years they’ve reached that point many an artisan distillery pines after: they’ve released whiskeys.
Today’s topic of concern is Let’s Get Lost American Single Malt, first released in small scale at their Rehoboth Beach and Milton, Delaware locations late 2020. “…It sold out almost immediately,” said co-founder Sam Calagione, “that’s when we knew we were on to something.”
According to Dogfish Head, this whiskey is made with a “four grains blend,” but it is indeed a single malt. How, beer sorcerers, can this be? It’s four types/styles/flavors of malted barley: pale malt, crystal malt, coffee kiln malt, and a bunch of applewood smoked malt. Fermentation is courtesy of their signature doggie ale yeast, which of course is what also ferments their other beers. It bides its time in charred barrels three-plus years and then it ends up in your glass.
Tasting Notes: Dogfish Head Let’s Get Lost American Single Malt
Vital stats: Made from 100% malted barley (see above) and bottled at 102 Proof. The whiskey is aged over three years in charred American oak barrels. Find a 750mL for $59.99 in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington.
Appearance: This spirit is a very clear, medium amber with a copper cast. It beads and slowly forms fine tears.
Nose: Cereal sweetness and white flowers; a bit volatile rising out of the glass. A whiff of pencil shavings and Elmer’s Glue.
Palate: Super fruity, and a little meaty and funky. There’s something else in there, a whisper of hops? If I write this you’ll get me: it’s like drinking concentrated beer. So much so that I can almost feel carbonation. It’s sharp with a malty core. The beery impression is reinforced by a long IPA finish.
This whiskey messed with my head. I know every single one we review is concentrated, distilled beer. But this spirit really spoke to that lineage. It’s not even so much that I liked it as a regular dram, but I appreciate the purity of what Dogfish Head accomplished. I’m frankly shocked by it.
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In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...