Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
Residing in the Pacific Northwest, I was admittedly unfamiliar with Cedar Ridge. Upon receiving my assigned sample bottle, I was surprised. Being handed a single malt from Iowa was certainly not what I had expected that particular day.
Iowa? Yes. Iowa.
Indeed, Cedar Ridge is a distillery located in the Midwestern state of Iowa. If that were not enough of an oddity, Cedar Ridge is also a winery. Where there is wine, there are barrels. This affords Cedar Ridge a wide variety of finishing options which they have proudly displayed previously in limited single barrel releases. They claim to produce a single malt whiskey in the Scottish tradition. In fact, the chief difference between their signature single malt whiskey and Scotch is that it is from, you know, Iowa.
I’m sorry. I just can’t get over this Iowa thing.
As for how this whiskey is made, the process Cedar Ridge uses includes a solera system, which was added this year to their production of what were previously single barrel releases. While single barrel editions will still be produced, they will be released less frequently than their main production whiskey.
Appearance: Cedar Ridge has a light yellow-gold tone in the glass.
Nose: The forefront of the nose is strongly reminiscent of caramel apples. There is a lovely autumn quality to the smell as a more delicate, nutty aroma follows the apple.
Palate: There is a mouthy feel to the drink that is welcome. Very true to the nose, this is a slightly sweet and quite drinkable single malt. There is a complexity which I found very surprising.
Finish: Some lovely spice notes. The burn is not unpleasant and short lived, while an essence lingers that is indicative of this distillery’s expertise in the wine trade.
Pleasant surprise is amongst my most favorite sensations while trying new whiskeys. Coupled with genuine enjoyment, there is hardly much more I can ask for in a drink. Cedar Ridge has kept me well-stocked in both regards. The whiskey is bottled at 40% ABV (80 proof) and available under the $50 price point.
I would rate Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey a very respectable and enjoyable 87.
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Joshua St. John
When not sampling whiskey, Joshua St. John can most likely be found running the trails of the Pacific Northwest surrounding his home in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong world-traveler, Joshua was first introduced to single malts while visiting distilleries in Scotland, and continues to explore the world through the countless interpretations...