** This is the latest post in a new series by Mack McConnell called West Coast Whiskey. Mack’s a contributing writer for Cocktail Enthusiast. When he’s not writing about whiskey, he’s probably drinking it. He also runs Taster’s Club Whiskey of the Month. **
For the latest look at West Coast Whiskey, I’m leaving California and heading to Oregon, home of a distillery called Clear Creek. Based in Portland, Clear Creek Distillery originally made a name for itself by crafting high-quality eau de vie. Everything from raspberry and apple, to plum and kirschwasser. They even make an innovative pear brandy, in which the pear is actually grown inside the bottle.
But while their eau de vie are quite good, what’s better, in my opinion, is their McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey. It’s made from 100% malted barley imported from Scotland.
After distillation in their Holstein pot still, the rough spirit is aged for about three years, seeing the insides of old sherry casks and air-dried Oregon Oak. So while it’s a young whiskey, McCarthy’s derives tons of flavor from its peat-malted barley and oak treatments.
The peat on this whiskey is similar to that of an Islay Scotch. In fact, it’s frequently compared to the popular Lagavulin. Such comparisons show that the Clear Creek guys really know their Scotch, making something that’s pretty much the real thing… and doing it a lengthy 4,500 miles away from the motherland.
McCarthy’s really blazed the trail of Single Malt American Whiskeys since the early 90s, and has received a lot of praise for their efforts. The McCarthy’s Single Malt of 2008 even got a 96 rating in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
Color: Pale gold with hints of green.
Nose: Medium smoky peat, dried grass and must. Salt and ocean notes are present, plus a bit of tree fruit.
Taste: Some malty sweetness, plus apples and lemons, with more Islay peat smoke. It’s medium-bodied.
Finish: Medium finish that’s very clean. Lots of peat smoke through to the end.
Check online for where to buy some for yourself. And if you can’t find a bottle, don’t fret. The next batch is scheduled for February 2013. Call it a Valentine’s Day gift.
– 40% Alcohol by Volume