Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leviathan I from Lost Spirits, CA

Yes, I´ll do a review of another American whisky... but not the usual Bourbon stuff. This one is different, maybe that´s the reason why I was so curious about it.

But let´s turn the wheel back and talk a little bit about that distillery before we talk about their whisky... their Single Malt Whisky.

It all started in Spain... with the production of Absinthe. Bryan has an affinity for spirits since he´s a teenager and together with his girlfriend Joanne he produced Absinthe in Spain in the early 2000s. With the economy going really bad later the returned to the US and due to the fact that they both don´t like that Bourbon stuff (welcome to my world!), they decided to make something different... a peated Single Malt... in California... and they founded Lost Spirits and created a peat monster with 110 ppm!



I´ve been in contact with Joanne for a while and it´s really impressing to see how much heart´s blood they put into this distillery... it´s more than just a project to make some money, it´s an oeuvre!

The distillery itself is located as an open-air plant, the main reason´s the fire code but they put some kinda Japanese garden around it...

The main factors beside the still are barley, peat and the casks for the storage... Barley was easy to find and they go mostly with local barley.

Peat. Not so easy... in the end they decided to go with some Canadian peat...

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Canadian peat

The last part was the choice of casks... at the moment they´re going with late harvest cabernet casks, but those are also rare in the Napa region. Right now it´s fine but they´ve to find alternatives due to the fact that they don´t wanna use ex-Bourbon casks. It would work but both don´t like the flavor profile...

Charring the barrel

During my conversation with Joanne she found my blog, we talked back and forth and one day she offered me to send a bottle of their Leviathan I to me... Sounds simple... but it came out much more complicated than anyone would imagine...

Sending it directly was stupidly expensive, so we´d to find another way. A friend of mine from Massachusetts planned to come to Munich for the Oktoberfest and I planned to meet with him. So the bottle made the first stage from California to Massachusetts. Second stage from Massachusetts to Munich. Then the trouble started because the plans changed and we couldn´t meet... but there´s always a solution. So he forwarded the bottle from the hotel in Munich to a friend in Stuttgart. I met this friend at the pharmacy smoke in Wörrstadt, so the bottle made the trip to Wörrstadt too where it´s handed out to me... I took it home with me to Balgach... a long trip but finally it arrived at its destination.

I gave the whisky a few days to settle down after its long trip and now it´s time to open the cork and enjoy a dram of it.

Before I start with my impressions I wanna let you know what Joanne wrote me in one of her last emails: "In advance, it is not a clone of an Islay whisky at has its own style!"

I´m happy about that because it would be boring to have just another Islay... Lost Spirits definitely has its own character!

Leviathan I

Colorwise it´s obvious that this whisky has been stored in wine casks... that´s also the first thing which hits the nose... winey aromas... something sweet in the background, like marple syrup... and there´s some peat. Not much, definitely not the peat bomb I´d have expected.

Ok, let´s take a sip of it... but.. STOP!! Before you start drinking you should give it some time in the glass, 15 minutes are necessary imho, maybe 20 to 30 minutes are much better. Try it...

Now let´s take the first sip: oh well, at first the wine is very dominating. But then you get the aroma which seems to come from the peat. As Joanne said, it´s completely different to an Islay peatiness... on one hand there´s a decent bitterness with woody flavors (as an opposite of the initial sweetness), one the other hand there are intensive aromas of burnt ashes and rubber. Not unpleasant, even if it sounds like this, but those are the best descriptions coming to my mind. If I´d been asked without knowing it, I wouldn´t have declared it as peaty, but maybe it´s just due to the fact that I´ve a different "definition" of peatiness in my mind... But there´s one Scotch which reminds me of that... it´s the Croftengea from 1993 which´s been bottled by the Whiskyfair. It also had some comparable aromas... but just some, it´s still a different style of whisky.

The bitter notes stay very long in the aftertaste... doing a nice interaction with the winey sweetness... Bitter notes are always a bit complicated... those ones are not unpleasant, but in many cases people don´t like it too bitter... especially the Americans who always like it sweet and sticky...

This whisky is definitely great stuff: it´s completely different than a Scottish Single Malt but it´s also completely different to all those Bourbons, Ryes, etc.

You guys are doing a great job there at Lost Spirits, I definitely keep my fingers crossed for you and wish you a successful and prosperous future!!

Last but not least I wanna say thank you again to Joanne and Bryan, but also thank you to my readers... and with this "Thank you" I also introduce to you the distillery dog of Lost Spirits...