Those Rocky Mountain highs just keep on coming. Actually, Stranahan’s pre-dates that other Rocky Mountain high by nine years as Stranahan’s was founded in Denver in 2004 by Jess Graber and George Stranahan shortly after Jess met George while fighting a fire at Stranahan’s barn. You may not have heard of Stranahan’s, but in Colorado, it is a cult classic that has locals camping outside the distillery to grab a bottle when they announce the release of a new batch. I believe only Chick Fil-a has such equally devote followers that regularly camp outside the opening of their new stores.
So what’s up with this spirit that it turns normally sane people into cult like devotees? Stranahan’s is a straight whiskey aged in new charred oak barrels with the final spirit a blend of 2, 3 and 5 year old whiskies. They use 4 types of Rocky Mountain malted barley and water sourced from the Eldorado spring outside of Boulder. They use volunteers for the bottling process who get to keep a bottle for their efforts and the waiting list is currently 20,000 enthusiasts deep. On their web site, they declare that this spirit is “essentially a hybrid of Scotch and Bourbon with a Colorado soul”.
Well, let’s see what all the hype and insanity is all about. Stranahan’s is a very pale, very light amber colored spirit. The nose is quite sweet with hints of honey, caramel and maple syrup up front, with just the barest oak and smoke notes in the background. The nose is definitely as light as the color of this spirit. On the palate, it becomes pleasantly spicy, and even earthy, with cinnamon and tobacco notes again, followed by the barest hint of oak and a touch of smoke. The finish is spicy and short and sweet leaving behind a feeling of warmth and maple syrup.
This is a delightful Rocky Mountain high and precisely the way to make artisanal small batch spirits. They give it just enough and varied enough flavor to make it interesting without overpowering your palate and other senses. This is definitely a sipper and might require that odd piece or two of ice, but I would recommend enjoying it straight up as it is delicate enough to be enjoyed all by itself. I’m beginning to understand the devotion the devotees have for this whiskey; it really is mighty tasty.
Stranahan’s single malt whiskey can be found online for between $54.99 and up to $60.00 per 750ML bottle and it is 94 proof or 47% ABV.
By George Brozowski