Clear Creek McCarthy’s 6 Year Old “K&L Exclusive” Cask Strength Single Barrel #367 Peated Single Malt Oregon Whiskey (750ml) ($109.99)
K&L Notes: This wonderful barrel of whisky was distilled on January 4th, 2016 at the original Clear Creek facility in Portland before being filled into refill Oregon oak at a filling proof of 55% ABV. Like all McCarthy’s Whisky, it was double distilled on small copper pots from heavily peated Scottish barley, fermented naturally, and bottled without the use of additives or chill-filtration. The barrel would have been transferred shortly after filling to the new Hood River distillery, where it aged for more than six years in the unique Cascadian climate. Harvested on August 29th, 2022, it rested in tank for an additional two months before bottling on October 10th, 2022. Hand-selected by K&L’s Spirits Buyers, this is one of the few true cask-strength single barrels ever to make it to our shelves and easily one of the most special. McCarthy’s does an incredible job to produce whisky of great complexity and maturity at a young age, and this is pushing the limits of the oldest we’ve ever come across. Showing powerful smoke and a zesty, cleansing oceanic character balanced by a sweet malty core, no Islay drinker will be able resist this special cask-strength single barrel from one of the America’s original craft distillers. A true gem by any measure!
David Othenin-Girard | K&L Spirits Buyer | Review Date: February 22, 2023
This wonderful cask strength single barrel from the excellent Clear Creek distillery in Hood River, Oregon represents the legacy of one of the most important and skilled craft distillers in the U.S. Sadly, the legend himself Steve McCarthy passed away on January 2nd. His bold and innovative distillery would set the stage for a craft distilling revolution, and his exceptional single-malt whiskey has been sold at K&L since its release decades ago. His big idea was to take peat-smoked malted barley from the great malters in Scotland and distill this excellent barley on his tiny pot stills. Then he’d age it in Oregon oak. One of the founders of the American Single Malt category, we’ve always loved Steve and when he stepped away from the business, we knew he’d chosen an excellent steward to continue his legacy. Hood River Distillers has kept the brand going providing much needed capital and expanding their selection to include a 6-year-old offering. Now we’re finally able to select cask-strength, single-barrel 6-year-olds, and they’re just as amazing as you’d expect. This cask is one of the very last to be distilled in the original Clear Creek facility in Portland before the brand (and all the barrels) were moved to the new, larger facility in Hood River. While it was aged in fourth-fill barrels, the Garryana is still incredibly prominent yet exceptionally well-integrated.
Let’s taste it! The color is an attractive, deep gold. The nose is a perfect explosion of dense peat smoke, complex ocean character, dense herbal oak, and malty sweetness. With air, the complexity continues to expand into hints of salted fish, Sharpie marker, tanned hide, camphor, lanolin, citrus oil, and Velcro. On the palate, it’s exceptionally sweet with powerful lemon oils, licorice bark, sweet smoke, bunches of fresh green herbs, and an almost Ardbeg-like white smoke. With a drop of water, it adds a sweet, honeyed character, greengage, gooseberry, roasted espresso bean, still some Sharpie, and clean background smoke. On the palate, by contrast, more peat than before, a zingy ocean minerality, and some wildly exotic spices round out the long, satisfying finish. This is an absolutely exceptional cask that captures the essence of McCarthy’s and turns everything up to the maximum without being overwhelming. A fitting sendoff to the great man that captured our hearts and palates for decades. This one is for you, Steve. We love you brother.
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