Tasting Notes: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey (Batch 49)

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is an American whiskey in the single malt style distilled in Denver, Colorado. Founded in 2004, it is one of many new American microdistilleries creating small batch whiskies outside of the traditional bourbons and ryes that dominate the US whiskey industry.

Stranahan’s is distilled and aged in small batches for 2–5 years (earning it the “straight” whiskey moniker) using 80% locally grown barley. Originally located next to the popular Flying Dog microbrewery, the distillery first used Flying Dog beer as the wash for its whiskey, though it has since moved to larger facilities and begun creating its own wash.

In some ways, the whiskey resembles a single malt scotch (it is an “all malt” product), however it also has some characteristics of American bourbon (the water used in its creation is charcoal-filtered and the spirit is aged in new, charred oak casks). Bottles are capped with a 3-ounce metal shot glass, and are hand-numbered by batch. Along with information on when the spirit was bottled, the labels note what music the bottlers were listening to while working — a nice touch that makes the small-scale, mom-and-pop product feel that much more intimate.

With just 6 years distilling under their belt, Stranahan’s has been well received in the single malt community, and the batch that I taste below earned the distillery an “Artisan Whiskey of the Year” award from Malt Advocate magazine.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Batch #49; Bottled 10/15/07
Listening to: Tom Waits

ABV: 47%

Color: Deep reddish brown.

Nose: Vanilla, red berries. Very fruity and refreshing, but something earthy lurking in the back.

Taste: The fruit is still there upfront, but it leans towards bananas rather than red berries. A dry leatheryness and spice dominate what is really a very smooth dram.

Finish: Moderately long, but very light. This whiskey punches you upfront and then backs off a bit to lurk on the edge of your palate.

Overall: I really enjoyed this whiskey. It’s incredibly bright and big and refreshing, with little heat or rough edges for it’s relatively young age. Probably one of my favorite contemporary American craft whiskies.