Del Bac Classic Whiskey Review

By Richard Thomas

Rating: B

Del Bac Classic American Malt
(Credit: Richard Thomas)

When I proposed doing an interview to Hamilton Distillers co-founder Stephen Paul a few months ago, he mentioned that his whiskeys had evolved quite a bit from when The Whiskey Reviewer initially covered them in 2015. That is sometimes the case with small distillers who have been around for several years or longer; why produce a static product when one can continue to tweak and improve on it, after all.

So, I jumped at the chance to reacquaint myself with Del Bac Classic, the unsmoked version of their aged single malt whiskey. Their other flagship whiskey, Dorado, smokes the malted barley with a mesquite-fueled fire. This whiskey, on the other hand, is more in the hybrid American-Scottish vein. That is to say it is a 100% malted barley whiskey, double distilled in a copper pot, as in Scotland. However, this being America, it is aged in new oak barrels, and in the dry, hot climate of Arizona as opposed the mild, wet clime of Scotland.

The Whiskey
Bottled at 90 proof, Whiskey Del Bac Classic has a bright and middling amber coloring. My nosing revealed a spread of toasty cereals, spread out on a bed of dry straw and oak chips, accented by a hint of cookie spices. My take on the scent was that note so much had changed, but that opinion changed when I got to actually tasting the whiskey.

This silky whiskey sits squarely in a place where American and Scottish malts meet. Caramel and butterscotch come together, and despite the lack of mesquite smoking, they do so with just a touch of barrel char style ash. The finish takes a smooth vein, smacking of Cracker Jacks with its toasted corn and caramel. I found this modern version of Del Back Classic to be a fine and well-rounded, if simple and youthful, drinker. Given that this is a description I could give to any of the best of the American malts, Del Bac Classic is certainly worth the time of any true whiskey lover.

The Price
The price seems to have gone down in recent years as well. This should fetch $50 a bottle, and I haven’t seen it priced higher than $60; back in the day a full bottle was $65 and a half-bottle was $40.

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