Whiskey Review: Cut Spike Single Malt (Nebraska)

As bourbon production has grown in recent years among distilleries both large and small, some spirit producers have chosen to instead head towards the American whiskey frontier, with perhaps no spirit better exemplifying this mindset than the American single malt. The category is as yet largely undefined in any legally-binding sense, though efforts are being made to remedy this. Bearing this legal trailblazing in mind, the midwestern origin of Cut Spike single malt whiskey seems a little less out of place.

Cut Spike Single Malt

image via Cut Spike Distillery

Cut Spike hails from La Vista, Nebraska, not far outside of Omaha. The distillery opened in 2008 and currently produces a premium vodka, a barrel-aged rum, and this American single malt whiskey. Scottish copper stills are utilized in the production of Cut Spike, lending another level of authenticity to the traditional single malt distinction. The process of water filtration through layers of limestone in the Nebraska Sandhills further imparts a regional influence on the finished flavor profile.

Following distillation, Cut Spike is aged for two years in charred American oak barrels.  Batch numbers, bottling dates, and a distiller signature adorn the rear of each bottle, adding to the handcrafted aesthetic of the whiskey. My bottle is from batch 003, bottled on June 18th, 2015.

Tasting Notes: Cut Spike Single Malt

Vital Stats: 43% ABV (86 proof), aged two years, 100% malted barley mash bill, around $60 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Color of raw honey. I almost expected to find a honeycomb in the bottle. Medium legs.

Nose: I would almost describe the nose as pungent. Hot, sour, wine-like, young, bright oak notes, beer or cider fermentation smell, vegetal, floral. There is a lot going on and it becomes overwhelming.

Palate: Sweet and mellow, cool mouthfeel, soft burn. Flavors reminiscent of hard butterscotch candies, mildly floral, not much spice, solid oak presence, lots of caramel, toffee, and more charred oak on the back end. Surprising from the young nose. This drinks much more mature. Solidly in the rich and sweet end of the spectrum.

The finish is a medium burn in both intensity and duration. Notes of prunes late in the aftertaste.

Conclusion:

Perhaps a single malt out of Nebraska may initially strike some people as odd, but experience has taught me that the American Midwest has some gems to offer in this category of spirit. Cut Spike brings to the table a whiskey that drinks far more mature than its age statement would imply. The challenge for me was navigating the nose, which I found to vary from unbalanced to overwhelming at times. I had hoped that this would become less of a distraction as my opened bottle had time to breathe, but as of yet this has not made much of an impact. The flavors, mouthfeel, and finish are delightful, however.

This is a solid whiskey worth spending some time getting to know beyond a first impression.

FINAL SCORE: 84/100

About the author

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 of his favorite spirit.