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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."