American Night – St. George Lot No 16 43%

We continued our explorations of American drams with a hard to find single malt – St. George. None of us had tried it before so it was a pleasure to discover together!

Which is in many ways surprising as St. George is not new to artisan spirits – founded in 1982 – however isn’t as they are newer to our favourite spirit – whisky. While their website does not specify when exactly they started to produce single malts, there is mention Lot 12 (from 2012) and so forth. With the latest Single Malt Lot 17, in honour of their 35th year of operations… if you can find it.

What they do say about their approach is compelling:

We’re passionate about distillation in all its forms, but we don’t release a spirit unless we feel we have something new and valid to contribute to the conversation. We want to be able to pick our spirits out of a lineup on smell and taste alone because they’re exceptional.

For us, all that matters is the whiskey…. so on to our experience.

St. George Lot No SM016 43%

  • Nose – Oily, almost like smelling baklava, rose, distinctly different, quite herbaceous, cherry, lemon pine sol, sugar coated saunf (fennel seed)
  • Palate – It tastes exceedingly… er… rather pronounced… er… hemp like quality… a potpourri of after mint like you get in packages on Jet Airways flights, once past the herbal dimension, there is an creamy malty almost chocolaty element
  • Finish – Quite a decent finish, more of that fennel, a bit of bitter almond

I can’t help it… there is no other way to say it… this could be a gateway single malt for (ahem) medical marijuana smokers…

Setting that aside, it is unusual, fresh, and frankly really quite enjoyable and well worth trying.

We set it aside for some time and with the revisit found:

  • Nose – Sour varnish, nuts, surf, packaged flowers
  • Palate – Sweet flowers, still very herbal but with enough substance to enjoy
  • Finish – Less bitter and continued the herbal theme

And what do the folks over at St. George have to say about this dram on the label?

For the better part of two decades, we’ve been handcrafting single malt in 65-gallon pot stills here in California out of love for what whiskey can be. The result is an uncommonly smooth and ethereal single malt with notes of cocoa, roasted hazelnut, and hardwood smoke.

Would we agree? Yes.

Our whisky host admitted this was the most expensive bottle of the evening array… hard to find and likely to set you back $150. We concluded that while for such a price point, you can have a superior single malt from Scotland, yet we had no regrets having an opportunity to try the St. George… and for those curious to see what the American’s can do whisky wise, it is worthy of tracking down.

What else did we sample in our mostly Bourbon night?

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American Adventures – Pine Barrens Single Malt 47.5%

The Whisky Ladies came up with whisky tasting order for our American adventures, kicking off with single malts and more specifically Pine Barrens.

Originally known for their vodka, the folks over at  Long Island Spirits  decided to experiment with whiskies. A few years ago, our original tasting group were introduced to Rough Rider with their ‘Bull Moose’ 3 Barrel Rye – it was a brash young and exceedingly sweet.

Since then, Long Island Spirits have rebranded their Rough Rider series and introduced a new Single Malt line under the Pine Barrens label – named after their water source from the Pine Barrens forest preserve.

Here is what more we know –  Pine Barrens is catering to enticing shifting beer drinkers to whiskey rather than specifically targeting whisky aficionados. The beer used is from Old Howling Bastard barleywine ale and it is aged typically for ‘about a year’, meaning it is quite young indeed!

Yet it seemed the right place to start our American whisky evening…

pine-barrens

Pine Barrens Single Malt (Batch 13) 47.5%

  • Nose – Quite hoppy on the nose, a bit sharp initially, very bright with a dash of cinnamon, honey, caramel, then citrus spice and nutmeg, a bit of woodsy pine cones, as it aired became even more fruity, wait longer and tulsi (sacred basil) joins the mix
  • Palate – Whisky beer, surprisingly good, very easy to drink, more of that little woodsy feel, very palatable
  • Finish – Don’t laugh, but best described as a burp!

We really didn’t know what to expect.

And while this is not a whisky for a whisky snob, it is quite enjoyable as a beverage. Sure there are only 1 1/2 dimensions, but that’s ok. Particularly for a warm Mumbai evening where a heavy whisky just isn’t your mood, this is a refreshing change.

Oddly when we tried to think of what to eat with it? Pumpkin pie was mentioned. Clearly we were in a North American mode to think of a quintessential fall treat… particularly with Hallowe’en around the corner.

We certainly enjoyed an opportunity to try something a bit different… pushing the boundaries of what whisk(e)y can be!

Here is what the folks over at Pine Barrens have to say:

Pine Barrens is the first American Single Malt Whisky to be distilled on Long Island. Instead of creating whisky from a regular mash, Pine Barrens uses an actual finished 10%ABV barley wine English styled Ale Beer that has a high hop count of 70 IBU’s.

The Ale beer is traditionally brewed to its perfect drinkability, double pot distilled, and finally aged in petite new American Oak casks to achieve an incredibly high quality whisky.

The result is spicy, rich velvet smooth maltiness, sweet hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, and caramel qualities on the finish. The hoppy flavor also shines through, which beer geeks will love, providing that same sweet on the tongue and smoothness throughout.

Here is what others have to say:

Other whiskies sampled in our American evening included:

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