Craft Distilling seems to be holding some gems within its midst. These can be difficult to find when the 9th new distillery opens up in your town to offer yet another 2 year old spirit priced over $50.00 a bottle. That is, if the “distillery” even made it all. Perhaps they bought the whiskey from someone else and supplied the bottles and a cute cork. Nevertheless, craft distilling remains a force because of distilleries such as Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon. For more than 28 years, Clear Creek Distillery has produced and distributed award winning eaux de vie, grappa and brandy distilled from the fruits produced on their family owned orchard. But for the last 14 years, Clear Creek has produced McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt, their most singular spirit. On to some particulars…
Steve McCarthy, Clear Creek’s proprietor, envisioned an American whiskey reminiscent of an Islay Scotch. After shipping over peated malt sourced from Port Ellen Maltings (who also provide malt for Laphroaig, among others), Clear Creek contracts a nearby micro-brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, to ferment to a “wash” that is finally pot-distilled at Clear Creek. Maturation seems to have involved up to three stages in the past, but today their single malt is aged in refill sherry oak and new Oregon oak barrels for 3 years. The result is one of most unique American whiskies available. The details previously mentioned are plainly disclosed on their label, a plus when the price tags on craft bottlings demand so much of your debit card.
This bottle is also a perfect candidate for a blind tasting, which it was subjected to during one of our meetings. On to our review…
SWC Group Review
Nose- Campfire peat smoke. Honeyed sweetness witih cinnamon. Peppery smoke with time. Fresh, mossy note.
Taste- Sweet honey, barley. Smokey, heathery feel. Light.
Finish- Smoked meat. Short to medium length. Drying with dark, bitter chocolate. Nutty feel.
Comments– No multi-layered complexities, but what Clear Creek Distillery has accomplished in three Oregon summers is rather impressive. Straight forward and solid, this whiskey raises the standard in craft distilling even higher. Recommended.
SWC Rating – 86/100
Avg Retail – $50.00
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