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Stranahan's Colorado

Toffeed Batch # 106

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@VictorReview by @Victor

1st Sep 2013


Stranahan's Colorado
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This review is of a bottle from Batch # 106 given to me by a friend. That friend was at the Stranahan's Distillery in Denver and was given a choice between buying a bottle of Batch # 106 and Batch # 107. Well, this friend has quite the sweet tooth, and thinks of sweet as good, so he picked one of the two bottles remaining of Batch # 106, which was described to him as the sweeter of the two batches. The reviewed bottle has been open about 3 months, and is 90% full. It was distilled May 1, 2011, and is 2 years old. Stranahan's is a ("single")barley-malt whisky which uses only new wood (i.e. virgin oak) for maturation

Nose: deep toffeed malt resonances; very sweet, but does not come across as cloying at all; wood flavours of sharp crisp vanilla, natural caramel, oak and maple are also present; quite nice. With the new wood this nose smells different from most malt whisies, but it is not so very close to a typical bourbon nose either. You do smell barley here, which you never smell in a bourbon...ever

Taste: this is very interesting. When first opened this bottle just tasted overwhelmingly of caramel and toffee, to the detriment of tasting of other flavours. After only 3 months, this has a lot more tart bite, apparently from very sharp barley, which is a very welcome contrast. The wood flavours from the nose are translated onto the palate, but the sweetness from the wood and the tartness from the barley are what you notice the most, by far. The flavours are robust and strong

Finish: a sweet finish continues a sweet trend; everything in the mix persists a long time, and doesn't change a lot

Balance: what a nice surprise! I was really disappointed with this bottle at first, since it was at first so toffee-sweet as to have no dimension. I am glad I gave it some time before reviewing it. I have sampled Stranahan's before, from Batch # 58, which was quite a bit different, and less sweet, but also quite enjoyable. This Batch # 106 is mainly for the sweet-toothed. Stranahan's and especially a batch of Stranahan's like this # 106 are quite a lesson in just how much sugar can come out of new oak barrels--in just 2 years, no less. No caramel added. No other sweet additives, but this Batch # 106 was sweet, at first, like a very sweet liqueur. It is still quite sweet, but that sweetness is in much more balance.

I do like this batch # 106, especially now, but I liked batch # 58 more. These various batches of Stranahan's are quite different from one another, as Stranahan's prints right on the bottle label: "No two batches are the same."

Related Stranahan's Colorado reviews


CharlieDavis commented

Victor, your reviews are always a pleasure. The info is always accurate, and to my nose and palate, the reviews are spot on.

I was the original tour guide for SCW (Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey). I had to leave the job--which was a blast--after several years in the post,and so I haven't had #106 yet. I may never have the chance.

I think I can account for the difference in the two batches, though. As many of you know, SCW was sold a few years back to Proximo Spirits. When that happened, the original Head Distiller Jake Norris, left the company. Jake had a taste for darker richer marriages of barrels, and so he had a tendency to include a larger amount of older whiskey to the batches.

On the face of things,that sounds good; but not everyone is into that roasty coffee part of SCW. SCW ages incredibly rapidly, as you've noticed. I go into it in detail in another SCW review here at Connosr. But I can tell you that five year old SCW is undrinkable (to my taste) as it is so bitter and astringent. It is, however, outrageously complex.

I am not one to give up overall enjoyability for increased complexity; others feel differently, of course. I think recent batches of SCW, married together by Rob Deitrich ("the last man standing" from the original distilling crew)are excellent. I will, however, admit that they are sweeter and arguably less complex. #99 in particular, was fantastically creamy and delicious to me. But earlier batches,from the middle 30's to say, the early 70's, will have more older whiskey, will be therefore less sweet, darker, oakier and, perhaps, more complex.

10 years ago 0

Victor commented

@Charlie Davis, thank you for your very kind words. I expect that you are one of the most knowledgeable people around on the subject of the Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey distillery, not just on Connosr, but in general. I appreciate the very useful information which you have contributed here. It gives a good perspective to understanding the trend in the styles of the various numbered batches of Stranahan's. Stranahan's Colorado Malt Whiskey is a very enjoyable product, and quite a lot of fun.

Stranahan's is also quite an excellent demonstration about how very little aging is required for charred new oak to come into balance with barley-malt distillate. Long aging, e.g. 10+ years, and, yes, even as you say, perhaps even 5 years in the drier parts of the US, in charred new oak, would render a whisk(e)y in which the much more delicate flavours of barley-malt would usually be completely overwhelmed.

Use of toasted but uncharred new oak with barley-malt, as exemplified by Glenmorangie Ealanta, gives the possibility of much longer aging. Unfortunately United States laws currently make it very difficult for a US distiller to age in toasted oak and still meet traditional US legal classifications for whisk(e)y products. In the US if you use uncharred barrels, you have to call it something other than malt whiskey...so people would then have difficulty easily identifying the product being offered for sale.

10 years ago 0

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