Lost Lantern Sets Out To Be America’s Best Independent Whiskey Bottler

The idea of the independent whiskey bottler here in the United States is certainly not a new concept – there are brands out there already taking the whiskey of others and bottling under their own label. It is a practice not entirely loved in all domestic corners, however, with some feeling because of labeling practices on certain bottles that this part of the trade can tilt towards being dishonest. Overseas in Scotland, however, independent bottlers are lovingly embraced by drinkers for the whiskeys they find and release under their brands, often resulting in gems that are one of a kind.

Stepping into this space now is Lost Lantern, a new independent bottler of American whiskey that seeks out, according to them, “the most unique and exciting whiskies being made all across the country and releases them as single casks and blends, always with a deep commitment to transparency.” It is founded by Nora Ganley-Roper and Adam Polonski, whiskey lovers who worked on two sides of the industry: Nora as a retail specialist and Sales Manager at Astor Wine & Spirits; Adam as a Senior Whisky Specialist and Editor at Whisky Advocate.

Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1

Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1 (image via Lost Lantern)

For their first release the two recently unveiled Lost Lantern American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1, a blend of American single malts from six American distilleries that were visited in person by the duo. It is, in fact, not just these six they visited – the number is closer to 100, due in large part to a commitment to only purchase whiskey for their releases from distilleries they have visited. Many of these visits were part of a 2018 road trip, which took them to 50 distilleries in eight months across dozens of states. They have since visited another 25 while touring the Midwest in 2019, and that number has only continued to increase.

“There are approximately 2,000 distilleries in the United States, yet there’s no easy way for whiskey lovers to discover the best and most exciting ones,” said Polonski in a prepared statement. “I kept dwelling on this idea and realized that somebody was going to do this sooner or later. It was clear that, between my experience and contacts and Nora’s palate and background in startups and operations, we were the ones who should do it.”

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“We’re presenting distilleries to our customers under the Lost Lantern name as exemplars in their field, so we need to understand what they’re doing and why,” added Ganley-Roper. “We think of Lost Lantern as shining a light on whiskies that would otherwise be lost. That sometimes means bottling something from a distillery that is not distributed nationally, and which doesn’t get the attention we think they deserve. It can also mean bottling barrels from more well- known distilleries that are not consistent with their core lineup.

“This may be a finished whiskey, or an experiment that they’re not quite sure how to release. We’re looking for whiskies that we can bottle or blend that will expand the understanding of the landscape of American whiskey by whiskey connoisseurs.”

With Vatted Malt Edition No. 1, bottled at 52.5% ABV, what one has here is a non chill filtered, no color added 12 barrel blend that has been aged for two years. Lost Lantern worked with the following distilleries’ founders and distillers in a collaborative undertaking that included meeting up over the course of a day to put this release together from hand-selected barrels:

  • Balcones (Waco, Texas)
  • Copperworks (Seattle, Washington)
  • Santa Fe Spirits (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
  • Triple Eight (Nantucket, Massachusetts)
  • Westward (Portland, Oregon)
  • Virginia Distillery Co. (Lovingston, Virginia)

Only 3,000 bottles of this expression, each priced at $120 per 750 ml bottle, are available. Official tasting information from Lost Lantern indicates “a complex and balanced blend with notes of baking spice, salted pretzel and hints of roasted barley surrounded by a savory smokiness that culminates in a long, warm finish of milk chocolate and sea salt.”

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For those more curious about this whiskey, we’ve included below the breakdown of the components based upon information provided by the brand:

Balcones Distilling

Cask 1:

● Mashbill – 100% Peated Golden Promise Malted Barley
● Maturation Barrel Info – 60 gallon ISC New American Oak barrel ● Length of Primary Maturation – 30 months
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None
● Age of Spirit – 30 months

Cask 2:

● Mashbill – 100% Golden Promise Malted Barley
● Maturation Barrel Info – 53 gallon Used bourbon barrel ● Length of Primary Maturation – 30 months
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None
● Age of Spirit – 30 months

Copperworks Distilling

Cask 1:

● Mashbill – 100% WA Select (Pale) Malt from Great Western Malting
● Maturation Barrel Info- 66.5 gallon ex-oloroso sherry barrel straight from Spain ● Length of Primary Maturation- 376 days
● Finishing Barrel Info- 53 gallon ex-bourbon
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing- 1422 days
● Age of Spirit- 4 years, 11 months

Cask 2:

● Mashbill- 100% Skagit Valley Alba 6 row pale malt, grown on Craig Knudzen’s farm ● Maturation Barrel Info- 53 gallon used bourbon barrel
● Length of Primary Maturation – 1135 days
● Finishing Barrel Info- None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None ● Age of Spirit – 3 years

Santa Fe Spirits

Cask 1:

● Mashbill- 100% 2-Row Malted Barley, 30% Mesquite Smoked ● Maturation Barrel Info – 53 gallon used bourbon barrel
● Length of Primary Maturation – 2 years, 26 days
● Finishing Barrel Info – Used Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy Cask ● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – 230 days
● Age of Spirit – 2 years, 8 months

Cask 2:

● Mashbill – 100% 2-Row Malted Barley, 30% Mesquite Smoked ● Maturation Barrel Info – 53 gallon used American oak barrel ● Length of Primary Maturation – 3 years, 51 days
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None ● Age of Spirit – 3 years, 51 days

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Triple Eight Distillery

Cask 1:

● Mashbill – 100% Maris Otter Malted Barley
● Maturation Barrel Info – Multiple 53 gallon ex-bourbon barrels
● Length of Primary Maturation – 4.5 years
● Finishing Barrel Info – 59 gallon re-toasted Pinot Noir barrel from Nantucket Vineyard Winery
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – 2 years, 40 days
● Age of Spirit – 6.5 years

Cask 2:

● Mashbill – 100% Maris Otter Malted Barley
● Maturation Barrel Info – 53 gallon new American oak barrel; Nadalie Cooperage; char 2 ● Length of Primary Maturation – 3 years, 26 days
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None
● Age of Spirit – 3 years

Virginia Distillery Co.

Cask 1 & 2:

● Mashbill – 100% 2 row, North American, Pale Malt
● Maturation Barrel Info – 60 gallon re-toasted wine cask ● Length of Primary Maturation – 2 years, 236 days
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None
● Age of Spirit – 2 years, 236 days

Westward Whiskey

Cask 1:

● Mashbill- Blend of 3 varietals of Pacific Northwest-grown barley, malted 10 miles away at Great Western ● Maturation Barrel Info – 55 gallon McGinnis Wood Products New American Oak barrel, char 2
● Length of Primary Maturation – 3 years, 3 months
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None ● Age of Spirit – 3 years, 3 months

Cask 2:

● Mashbill – Blend of 3 varietals of Pacific Northwest-grown barley, malted 10 miles away at Great Western ● Maturation Barrel Info – 53 gallon Kelvin Cooperage New American Oak barrel, char 1
● Length of Primary Maturation – 3 years, 3 months
● Finishing Barrel Info – None
● Length of Secondary Maturation/Finishing – None ● Age of Spirit – 3 years, 3 months


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