Just recently, we discussed the trend of whiskies inspired by beer. Tossing another onto the pile: the California-based Amador Straight Hop-Flavored Whiskey. This release was crafted by Napa Valley area Charbay Master Distiller Marko Karakasevic, part of a 12th generation of distillers.
Its moniker is a bit of a misnomer, as this whiskey doesn’t have artificial flavoring, which is what I’d thought at first. Instead, it’s a blend of 60 percent straight malt whiskey, and 40 percent hop-flavored whiskey, which is distilled from Racer 5 IPA, a craft beer brewed by the Bear Republic Brewery. After these two whiskeys were distilled, they were aged separately for more than two years in French oak wine barrels, and then combined in chardonnay barrels for another year before being bottled.
It’s 96 proof, and limited release: Only 10 barrels were made. This bottle we tasted is batch 1, bottled in June 2014, and bottle #456. More numbers: The Amador will cost you about $90.
Tasting Notes: Amador Straight Hop-Flavored Whiskey
Appearance: Tawny gold, or like golden apple juice. It nicely coats the glass.
Nose: With this many steps having gone into the creation of this whiskey, it’s unsurprisingly powerful and complex. It’s quite ripe, almost port-like. Cut grass, vanilla wafer cookies, some hops though not super-prevalent—and an undertone of…is that weed? Yes, yes it is. (What? It’s legal in Oregon.)
Palate: The hops aren’t as powerful on the nose as they are on the palate. It is also quite smoky, like you’re sitting around a campfire and the taste has gotten into the drink. Like an un-peated Scotch. It gets smoother on subsequent sips, but—like a campfire you need to tame—would benefit from a splash or two of water.
This is not a whiskey “daily driver,” by any means, but not all whiskies need to be. That said: I’m more of a purist. I like whiskey and I like hops, but I’m not sure I like them simultaneously The Amador is certainly a novelty, but not one I’d choose on a regular basis. It’s well-made, but not really my jam. I’d call it a good collector’s whiskey for someone who likes scotch, or hoppy beer–together.
Final score: 82/100
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