I remember the first time Stranahan’s came up on my radar. It was last year around Christmastime and folks were lining up in wee hours of the morning to get their hands on a bottle of Stranahan’s Snowflake. I remember thinking ‘wow, there is a lot of anticipation around this bottle–you’d think it was from a major distillery’. My focus at that time was more on the heavyweights of the whiskey-producing world and not so much on the newer or small-to-mid-size distilleries. After that moment I decided to focus a bit more on the not-so-large distilleries, and grabbed a bottle of Stranahan’s Diamond Peak the next time I went to one of my favorite stores. Always good to branch out, right?
Diamond Peak is a bit unique on my shelf as it’s one of the few 100% malt whiskies that I own. I was very curious to understand how that would affect the flavor since most of my experience is with Bourbon and Rye. Further, this expression is pretty unique in how it’s selected. According to the distillery’s website, they hand-select four year whiskey and add that to older whiskey inside the Foeders (pronounced ‘FOOD-er’ and is essentially just a large barrel) to produce Diamond Peak. After resting in the Foeder, a portion is removed for bottling and the rest stays in, waiting to marry with future hand-selected casks and the process begins anew. It further explains that no two batches are the same, and that it is aged in #3 Char American White Oak barrels. So there you have it – a Solera-aged, 100% single malt whiskey.
According to the distillery tasting notes, here’s what we might expect from Diamond Peak:
NOSE: Dried apricot, tack-shed leather, black licorice, hint of wet cedar PALATE: Turkish apricot, dark-roast coffee, butterscotch oak, cayenne and Mexican hot chocolate, with the parting gift of a rolling, creamy finish.
Hmm…interesting! I definitely am unsure what Turkish apricot tastes like, as well as Mexican hot chocolate but the other notes I have experience with so I am curious to see what this produces. That said, Stranahan’s noted that no two batches are the same – which allows for a lot of flexibility between batches. So let’s see what this is like.
There’s an odd scent of corn – creamed corn, in fact – which is super obvious on the nose. It’s really surprising because this is 100% malt whiskey. We went back multiple times to really try and pull this apart a bit since that seemed like our noses were playing tricks on us. But no, it definitely was creamed corn. Beyond that, we got notes of grape, Oak and detected a bit of mustiness. It was interesting to us just how much it shared the nose of some of our favorite Willett products, and we were unsure why that might be.
We got prominent grape flavors on the palate – so much so that it tasted like grape juice up front. We’ve tasted a lot of whiskies and traditionally we find very similar notes as a lot of others reviewers, but for this bottle and a few others (and Willett products too) we’ve gotten noticeable grape notes. Which is not at all bad! We like it. Beyond the grape notes, we got white sugar sweetness, apricot, anise, some floral notes and underlying pepper spice throughout.
This is a rather short finish but it’s rather pleasant – carrying on a lot of flavors of the palate but adding on a couple interesting notes of smoke and coffee. These don’t show up for awhile so you have to wait to experience them, but they’re a really nice surprise at the end of the process.
We like it. Is it a daily drinker for us? No, probably not. But it’s pleasantly sweet and with enough spice to keep us interested. It definitely makes us want to take a look at other American malt whiskies and branch out a bit from our comfort zone, and that alone speaks volumes when you are an archetypical Bourbon or Rye drinker. It does impart some ‘young’ notes but not so much that we were disappointed by any means.
For us, the bottle cost $70 so it was not cheap – we definitely went out on a limb for this one. If you have experience with malt whiskey and enjoy them, I might consider making the purchase. However, this might be one you try when you are out at your favorite whiskey bar or if a friend has a bottle, maybe get a sample.
As for us, we’re excited to give this one another go – perhaps there are more flavors lurking that we didn’t catch. It’s an interesting and unexpected pour that we’re generally happy to have on hand.