Whiskey Review: Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Stranahan’s. 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.

A good story goes a long way in the whiskey industry, and the inception of Stranahan’s is one good story. Amidst the mountains of Colorado, a barn fire raged out of control, salvaged only by the bravery of Jess Graber, a volunteer firefighter. The owner of the barn was whiskey connoisseur George Stranahan, and the two forged a friendship over the destruction, eventually founding Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey.

Stranahan’s first batch was bottled in 2006 and the team has been hard at work ever since developing their brand as a small-batch craft distillery that carries the title of being the first legal distillery in Colorado since Prohibition. Utilizing the crystal-clear water of the Rocky Mountains, Stranahan’s has focused on releasing high quality whiskey to loyal consumers.

This year sees the release of Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask expression, an American single malt crafted from five-year-old barrels and finished in Caribbean rum casks. This finish ensures a rich and robust flavor profile.

This expression is a part of the Distillery Exclusive series and, like others in the series, is distilled from 100% malted barley. This small batch is a marriage of five- to nine-year-old Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey and is aged in virgin American Oak barrels. After first maturation, the Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey is finished in the unique Caribbean rum barrels for up to three years.

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Owen Martin, Stranahan’s Head Distiller, states that this expression works to “showcase our ongoing innovation within the growing American single malt category. Up to three years of aging in Caribbean rum barrels results in a whiskey that bursts with lively, tropical flavor.”

Stranahan’s bottle is attractive, with a built-in dram that screws onto the cork and a classic label accompanying the etched glass on the body of the bottle. It’s little details like these that help Stranahan’s stand out amongst other young brands, and the whiskey delights the palate, with the final maturation process within the rum cask permeating the profile, offering something a little different from other American single malt expressions.

Stranahan's Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey (image via Jerry Jenae Sampson)

Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey (image via Jerry Jenae Sampson)

Tasting Notes: Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey

Vital Stats: Bottled at 90 Proof (45% ABV). Mash bill of 100% malted barley. Aged in virgin American Oak barrels with #3 char. Finished for up to three years in Caribbean rum barrels. Available only at the distillery in Denver, Colorado.

Appearance: Strawberry blonde.

Nose: Lightly burned sugar and dates come through right out of the bottle. Once it’s opened a bit the nose mellows, and the sweetness of the whiskey offers a lot of promise.

Palate: That promise is realized as sweetness and a bit of rummy wood from the cask comes through. The aroma of vanilla and coffee notes on the finish recalls a vanilla latte.

The Takeaway

Summary

There is much to enjoy with Stranahan’s Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey. It is different enough from other Stranahan’s single malt expressions to recommend. The edge of sweet and too sweet is right there with this whiskey, but it manages to rest on the right side of that line, and it will lend itself nicely to either a sipper on a cool fall day or within a vibrant cocktail.

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