Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

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Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

Unread postby Mike » Fri May 25, 2007 4:39 pm

I had a sip of Stranahan's Colorado whiskey today. It is a malt whiskey made with 'beer' from the Flying Dog Brewery, which makes a number of very good beers. Based on that taste I bought a bottle for a bit under $50.

Now come I to tell you what I think of it. It is made in small batches in what is, I suppose, a microdistillery. The distillate is aged for about two years in new charred oak barrels. It is bottled at 94 proof. My particular bottle is from batch #8.

The nose is very malty, as you might expect, but also has some nice vanilla and a faint echo of the charred barrel and a faint whiff of leather. It also betrays its beer ancestry in an interesting way, there being a slight cast of a pale ale. The alcohol is unobtrusive.

The taste is sweet, being just this side of sticky. Mid way through there is a nice jolt of spice that lays down a backbone to hold the flavors.

The finish is more than respectable with both the sweetness and the spice holding a spirited conversation.

Overall I think this is a very good whiskey. I find no serious shortcomings and am enjoying it very much. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

I think the somewhat similiar St George's single malt whiskey betrays its beer heritage even more than Stranahan's. It also seems closer to an Irish Whiskey than to an American Whiskey, which is not to say that it is not a good product, because I do like it too.

I find Stranahan's just a skosh closer to American whiskey because it has a bit more spice.

Neither of these whiskies tastes immature to me, and neither has a raw edge.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Unread postby cowdery » Fri May 25, 2007 7:26 pm

I tried some at Whiskeyfest Chicago. The owner is a really nice guy. It tastes like what it is, which is a young malt whiskey.

Bill Owens, who heads the trade group for micro-distillers, believes this is how American micro-distillers are going to make whiskey, which is to make a malt wash in a brewery, or the way a brewery would, and distill that, probably in an eau-de-vie still.

In other words, both he and the Stranahan's guy don't see American micro-distillers making the classic American-style whiskeys.

Why not?

It's too hard.

So I guess my attitude is, okay, good luck, when you've got something to taste I'll taste it and let you know what I think.
- Chuck Cowdery

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"From" beer or "of" beer?

Unread postby StateLiquors » Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:12 pm

Stranahan's is certainly an interesting attempt at creating a niche, micro whiskey. From the promotional literature we received along with a couple of bottles to test out on the top shelf, I'd like to expand on a point made by Mike. To wit, Flying Dog prepared a four-barley mash and started the fermentation, then saw the wort up to a "9% whiskey wash." After 9 days this pre-whiskey "beer" was filtered and delivered for primary distillation in a new combo pot-and-column still built by Vendome.

Other elements of the production process suggest a high maintenance labor of love--"easy" per Cowdery, in that it is small-scale--and whether it will catch on is anybody's guess. As a retailer I will say that the Flying Dog tie-in is relevant for hand selling and confers some value both at the $50 price point and as a gift item.

I'll agree that Stranahan's is worth a try, and tastes far more mature than 2 years rest in new white oak alligator char would suggest. Maybe altitude speeds aging. The nose and the taste are distinctly malty--even more so than the new Penderyn Welsh whiskey--with ample leather and pepper following. To me, the big surprise was a distinct note of Starbucks black coffee on the finish with just a hint of granulated sugar. I did a double-take to make sure my plastic sampling cup hadn't been used before to try some plain Kahlua.
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Unread postby cowdery » Tue Oct 23, 2007 7:56 pm

"Easier" may have been fairer. According to Bill, mashing corn is pretty daunting for people with a brewing background, who are quite comfortable mashing barley.

I often have people ask me if I think the micro-distillers are the "answer" to the fact that the USA has so few distilleries, as compared to Scotland. My answer is maybe, but it's a long way off. I also continue to be disappointed by the fact that so many of them have little or no regard for the American distilling tradition. More encouraging are the efforts the majors are making to produce truly outstanding enthusiast-oriented products. So far, they are out-pacing the micro guys, which leads me to feel, sometimes, that the micro guys are just playing with themselves.

But I try to keep an open mind.

Stranahan's is as close as anybody to doing it right.
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Unread postby gillmang » Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:54 am

I too have been surprised that after some 20 years of microdistilling, not a single bourbon or rye has been made or rather released except the very young examples issued by a craft distiller in New Paltz, NY. I think the reason mainly is the same reason that led to the decline of such brown goods over the same period: consumer lack of interest and a focus on international spirits types such as brandy, the alcools blancs based on fruits, grappas and so forth. I think people just did not think bourbon was worthy of being made on a craft level and considered it a mass-made product (which it was not originally of course).

I do think this will change but slowly.

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Re: Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

Unread postby Mike » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:37 pm

This post is just to move this topic to the top in answer to a query about Stranahan's
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

Unread postby HowiPepper » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:24 pm

Thanks for the tasting notes Mike. I've been wanting to try Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey since I saw the "Modern Marvels" episode earlier this year. Unfortunately, Stranahan's isn't sold (yet) in Florida, so I would have to find a store in Georgia that sells it.

I will eventually get a bottle for tasting. May take a while though. Good to note that it won't be money wasted.
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Re: Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:00 pm

In tasting recenty the McLelland's Islay whisky, which is reputed to be Bowmore at 5-6 years old, it reminded me persistently of Stranahan's Colorado whisky. The pot still at the younger age band produces some of the same malty and rubbery tastes. In this case (i.e., with a whisky made from an all-malt wash), they fit well within a younger profile drink.

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Re: Stranahan's Colorado whiskey

Unread postby mike1290 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:04 pm

I usually prefer bourbon or scotch but was intrigued after I read about Stranahan's in an issue of Malt Advocate. I'm going to borrow the format from my favorite beer review site (beeradvocate) to review this beverage.

Appearance - clear glass bottle to better see the goods. nice copper color that really looks nice held up to the light

Smell - poured it into a small Chimay glass and left it alone - no ice or water. the initial aroma is actually a little like varnish, with a hint of turpentine, YIKES. this is definitely a unique bouquet. after a few minutes of swirling it around I get a little caramel and something sweet I can't place my finger on

Taste - WOW. totally unexpected smoothness, despite the 94 proof. I'm getting a little vanilla, and a touch of oak. the flavor is initially intense but quickly subsides and you're left with a nice warmth from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel & Drinkability - not too sweet or overpowering, but rather very subtle. this is obviously a whiskey that can be enjoyed more frequently than something as harsh as Jack Daniels. nice finish, but a little on weak side for me.

Overall, I am impressed with Stranahan's considering that the whiskey is only aged 2 years in new oak barrels. Now, is it aged in new oak so they can sell it quicker or because they like the flavor it imparts; because most scotches are aged in used bourbon barrels.
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