Monday, March 23, 2009

The American Whiskey Club's First Selection Is Here!

Our first selection for the American Whiskey Club landed this week past and we've been busying ourselves with getting them out to you. For those of you yet to pick it up, here's the scoop. It is a special bottling done by Stranahan's -- part of their Snowflake Series, in which they've been experimenting with different cask finishes. For the most part, the Snowflake Series has only been available at the distillery - or how we and I'm sure several other industry folks have tasted it, as a gift from the folks at Stranahan's. This particular batch was coined Grand Mesa, the significance of which immediately came apparent upon tasting.

We originally sat down with three different bottles from the Snowflake Series: a Cab Franc finish, a Port Finish and the mysteriously titled "Grand Mesa." We had no other details about these bottles at the time. We started out with the Cab Franc finish which showed a great amount of spice and berry fruit. The Port finish was really rich and almost dessert-like with its berry jam and rummed rainsin characteristics. Finally, we came to the mystery bottle. The nose gave us dusty, dry hay on top of cherry jam. The palate exploded with spices, riding alongside brandied cherries and cocoa powder. The finish was long and dry with the spice still persisting and ending with Braeburn apples. It immediately brought to mind the vast open outdoors; it tasted like the Grand Mesa. Our decision was easy. The other whiskies were great, but this was fantastic.

Jake Norris, the head distiller at Stranahan's gave us some details once we had picked out the Grand Mesa cask.
The Grand Mesa Cask Finished Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey is made from 100% malted barley, distilled twice and aged in new heavily charred white oak barrels for no less than 2 years. This whiskey was distilled on 6/10/06- there was a fruity odor to the mash. The second distillation ran longer than normal due to the presence of higher esters. I cut heads accordingly. The barrel rested in rackhouse B-level 2, row 2. As I tested the barrel I noted a deep and complex flavor. After careful consideration I decided that this barrel had such a strong foundation that it could handle another layer of flavor. I worked with a used barrel dealer and located a French White Oak barrel made by Siguin Moreau that had housed red table wine made from grapes grown facing the Grand Mesa in remote western Colorado. The combination of the light sweet fruit flavors conjured from the used wine cask matched perfectly with the vanilla, spice and caramel flavors of the new American oak. The whiskey was transferred to the Mesa barrel on 8/13/08. It was matured in the Mesa barrel for 3 months and 23 days until sampled and deemed ready for bottling- the whiskey is 100% Colorado and has the freshness of the Rockies. We hope to be able to provide whiskies of this quality in the future.
This bottle is available now for members of the American Whiskey Club. For those of you who would rather not sign up for the club, it'll be available at the beginning of April. Club members have the added incentive of getting the bottle at a discounted price. For those of you out there still wary but interested, head over to The Alembic -- a great whisk(e)y bar and restaurant at 1752 Haight Street. The cask has been split with them so feel free to have a taste or more over there before you decide to pick up a bottle of your own.

Those of you who would like to sign up can do so a number of different ways. Give us a call at (415)346-1325 or (800)637-0292. Sign up on our website: Or, my favorite, write yourself a prescription.

Hope to hear from y'all soon.


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