Stranahan's Rocky Mountain Single MaltNose: Carmel, butterscotch, raisin, vanilla, .
Taste: Buttery, pear.
Distilled in Denver Colorado, this single malt reminds me of a Canadian whiskey more than an a US bourbon or Scottish/ whisky. Stranahan's was founded in 2004, and was the first modern legal distiller in the state. With it's unique bottle shape (including a cork cover that doubles as a shot-measurer, Stranahan's stands out on the shelf. Unfortunately, it didn't stand out on my palate, so I probably won't be going back for more.
Westland Sherry Wood Single Malt
Nose: Honey-dipped oatmeal raisin cookies, maple syrup, banana pancakes
Taste: Kiwi, maple syrup, raisins, sweet cookies, pastries, stewed yellow fruits
I lived in Washington state for several years, but didn't discover this Seattle-based distillery until I moved away. It has since become one of my go-to sipping malts due to its unique flavor profile derived from aging the whiskey in sherry casks. Sherry, for the uninitiated, is a fortified wine (similar to port wine) produced in Andalusia, near the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Westland was founded in 2011 to expand the category of American Single Malts, and in particular, the flavors and expressions of the Pacific Northwest. (Read more here for a reddit discussion with the distillery, and check out this blog that talks about their passionate dedication to using Washington-produced peat). In the distillery 2016 was purchased by the French company Remy Cointreau.
Pinhook Bourbon Country
Taste: Toffee, vanilla, cinnamon and cedar. Medium body. Dates to finish.
This is a good Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky. The difference between bourbon and malt is that bourbon must have a mash bill that is at least 51% corn, with the rest consisting of rye, wheat, and barley. Single malt is made up of 100% malted barley. In 2015, a lawyer and a former hedge fund manager joined forces to resurrect the long-derelict Old Taylor distillery in Frankfurt, Kentucky under the name Castle & Key. The goal was to create a new destination on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Pinhook is one of several brands they produce. Of note, their master distiller is Kentucky's first female master distiller since Prohibition.
Taste: Coca Cola finish. Slightly bitter herbals. Spicy.
This is a dark amber bourbon. I liked it, and would consider buying again. Despite the label reading that it is bottled by Rowan's Creek Distillery, it's actually one of the brands produced by Willet distillery. At 100 proof, this would be a good mixer, or can be sipped on ice.
Oak & Eden Bourbon & Spire
Taste: Very spicy and oaky with a taste of honey. Too spicy.
Gimmick or innovation? Oak & Eden adds wood spires to each bottle, continuing the aging process after the bottling. Tasting alongside other bourbons, this seemed to increase the oakiness. But did it make for a better bourbon? To be honest, I wouldn't buy this particular bottle again. Too much cinnamon and spice with not enough to balance it out underneath.
Bower Hill Barrel Reserve
Nose: Oak and spices
Taste: Oak, light spices.
This was the smoothest of all the whiskies I tasted, but being so smooth, there isn't a whole lot of complexity here. Bower Hill is what's known as a "non-distilling producer" or NDP, meaning they source their bourbons from unnamed distilleries and blend or resell under their own brand. Of interest, Bower Hill is named after the first bloodshed in the 1794 Whisky Rebellion, an uprising protesting an excise tax in which those fighting believed they were carrying on the spirit of the American Revolution. This is another bourbon I probably won't buy again.