Editor’s Note: This whisky 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.
Stranahan’s in Denver, Colorado, just released a new and unique cask-finished expression of single malt. The whiskey, blended from barrels of various ages distilled in-house from 100% malted barley, was aged for an additional two years in barrels formerly used to age New York Rye whiskey. Hardcore fans take note: you won’t find this release online. It’s only available at the distillery door.
The distillery came into being because of an accident, literally. A volunteer firefighter, Jess Graber, in love with whiskey making helped rescue the burning barn of a brewery owner, George Stranahan. Chatting about homemade distillers, the brewery owner offered up space and kegs of old beer to distill. After refining his technique, and shifting to his own mash, Graber founded Colorado’s first distillery since Prohibition and went on to distill its first whiskey in April of 2004, with the brewer’s blessing and his last name for the company.
In 2010, Proximo Spirits purchased the distillery. They temporarily narrowed distribution to (mostly) within Colorado while helping Graber speed up his five-year plan for expansion to meet the rabid demand for one of the country’s first craft whiskeys.
The Stranahan’s NY Rye Cask Finished Single Malt Whiskey is crafted from Stranny’s five- to nine-year-old single malts. The blend was finish for two years in casks sourced from Black Dirt Distillery in Warwick, New York, who claim to be the first micro distillery in NY State. The rye for their whiskey is all NY State-grown and a mix of 90% malted and 10% unmalted.
Not unlike single malt Scotch, Stranahan’s single malt that is the base for this release is distilled from 100% malted barley at Stranahan’s. The distillery is a member of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, whose members agree to produce and label their single malts according to strict guidelines.
Stranahan’s describes the whiskey as “bursting with herbaceous spice, sweet undertones of buttered cinnamon toast, and a nutmeg and oak finish.” The finishing cask imparts “a bright, layered flavor profile to the final product.” Let’s confirm.
Tasting Notes: Stranahan’s NY Rye Cask Finished Single Malt Whiskey
Vital Stats: Blended from barrels aged for five to nine years and finished for two years in NY Rye casks, 45% ABV, mash bill: 100% malted barley, SRP $69.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is pale golden yellow with an orange undertone.
Nose: This opens with notes of varnished wood, candied oranges, and butter. It’s pungent with a light hint of bananas and new tennis balls. The orange note deepens into orange oil with hints of black tea and warm scones keeping it fresh. It’s definitely herbaceous with a note of fresh pine needle. I’m really enjoying the aromatics.
Palate: The palate is very tannic with a moderate to full-body. It’s rich in aromas of baking spices, driftwood, and dried bananas. The finish is refreshing and light with grippy tannins and lingering aromas of blond tobacco, blood orange, and cedar with a lush vanilla and pine resin note that hangs on for a minute or so. Water brings out a beautiful note like fine mineral water.