Every year in late November/early December, whiskey fans from around the country start lining up outside of the Stranahan’s distillery in Denver, Colorado to wait for a chance to purchase a bottle of Snowflake American Single Malt Whiskey. This year, diehards started camping out at the distillery days in advance, and the whiskey sold out just three hours after going on sale on the morning of December 2. But we were lucky enough to get a taste without having to travel to Colorado, and are happy to report that this is a whiskey worth waiting for.
Stranahan’s was founded in 2004, and only produces one type of whiskey: American single malt. The first bottles came off the line two years later, and since then Stranahan’s has become one of the most prominent brands in this category that is gaining in popularity, and on the cusp of being legally defined by the TTB. The main lineup consists of Stranahan’s Original, aged for a minimum of four years in new charred oak barrels, along with Sherry Cask, Diamond Peak, and the ten-year-old Mountain Angel. While the same kind of new charred oak barrels required for bourbon are used to initially mature the whiskey (by choice, American single malt can be aged in any barrel type), Stranahan’s uses a wide variety of casks for secondary maturation. And that is the case with Snowflake.
Snowflake first came out in 2011, and the name refers to the fact that each release is unique. Batch 26, which is called Pyramid Peak, is an interesting one, and the first to be headed up by Justin Aden, the new head blender who started at the distillery this fall. The whiskey was initially aged for six to eight years in new charred oak barrels, and then finished in five different types of casks for an additional one to two years—Islay quarter casks, rum, sherry, ruby port, and mezcal. The final blend is an eight-year-old American single malt bottled at 94 proof with a very complex palate. On the nose there’s malted barley, spice, tropical fruit, and orange. The palate opens with rich chocolate and roasted espresso bean notes, followed by mango, pineapple, sweet vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon, and fresh raspberry and blackberry. The finish lingers on the back of your tongue, with a hint of oak and smoke.
This limited release sold out in just three hours, so hopefully all the dedicated folks who secured a spot and braved the elements were able to get a bottle. If nothing else, the atmosphere on the morning of the whiskey’s release is a party—we had a chance to visit a few years ago, and there is no shortage of food, music, mingling, and of course drinking in the early hours leading up to the launch. Snowflake is not available to purchase in stores, but past releases are available on the secondary market, and at some point that will probably be true for Pyramid Peak as well. You can also find the entire Stranahan’s lineup available to buy from ReserveBar.
For more information please visit https://stranahans.com/