Blue Peak Single Malt is the latest American single malt whiskey from Stranahan’s Distillery out of Denver, Colorado. The company states that Blue Peaks is “named for a 13-thousand-foot peak in Aspen and inspired by the alpine scenery of the Rocky Mountains.” The whiskey is aged for 4 years in 53 gallon, new American oak barrels with a #3 char. Additionally, Blue Peak utilizes a solera finish. According to Stranahan’s, the aged Blue Peak “is transferred into new American oak foeders for several months. Once the liquid is fully married, a portion of the mature whiskey is removed, cut to proof with pristine Rocky Mountain water and chill filtered. Meanwhile, newly harvested whiskey is added to the remnants to marry. Since the foeders is never emptied, the solera process allows for continuous marriage, maturation, and flavor development in the whiskey it holds.”
This is the first Stranahan’s bottle to not feature the company’s unique metal cap that can be used to measure a perfect 3 ounce pour.
A concoction of light scents immediately greets you consisting of baking chocolate, malted grain, and ripe green grapes. Digging deeper are additional light scents of hay, marshmallow, and oak. Overall the lighter nature of the nose isn’t that much of a surprise considering the whiskey’s 86 proof. While it may seem like an odd combination of scents, they mingle together surprisingly well and create a pleasant opening of the sip.
Bold baking chocolate, malt, and sweet vanilla take center stage. Dissecting deeper reveals scents of light dried raisins and dry oak. It’s surprisingly sweet yet just dry enough to keep it grounded. Full of subtle and balanced flavors, it’s a really great midpoint of the sip.
While the nose and palate tend to stretch Blue Peak’s lower proof surprisingly far, the finish falls more in line with what you would expect for an 86 proof whiskey. A quick burst of chocolate malt comes forth, however, as quick as it rises it also is quick to start fading. In its wake is a fleeting light malt and grounded earthy flavor note that mixes with a touch of heat. Compared to the nose and palate, it forces the sip to end on just an average note.
Stranhana’s has focused on one whiskey category and one whiskey category only since their launch, and that is the American single malt category. The brand was one of the first to really go after this category and has spent years educating consumers on what it means to be an American single malt whiskey. Since the standard Stranahan’s Whiskey was launched, the company has expanded into many offshoots of American malt whiskey including Blue Peak and a few finished whiskeys.
What’s interesting about Blue Peak is that Stranahan's chose to go after a lower proof for this whiskey. Traditionally, Stranahan’s has always bottled its products at 94 proof, however they buck that trend with Blue Peak’s 86 proof. It’s an interesting choice, yet surprisingly one that doesn’t fall flat on its face either. While Blue Peak is certainly not as defined as the standard Stranahan’s, it still delivers a flavorful sip that, with the exception of the finish, punches above the proof it’s bottled at. Additionally, this allows whiskey novices who are just starting off to not be intimidated by a higher proof and incorporate American single malt whiskey into their whiskey journey early on.
Stranahan’s has also chosen to deploy a solera method for Blue Peak. The method isn’t new to the American whiskey scene, however it is more commonly found in bourbons including Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon and Blade and Bow Bourbon versus American single malts. In the case of Blue Peak, the process seems to work well, creating a mellow yet flavorful whiskey that is able to be bottled at a lower proof to achieve these results.
American single malt whiskey is a category that generally tends to skew on the higher end of the price spectrum (thanks in large part to the cost of the grain). With brands usually pricing their products at $60 or above, it can be a category that can be intimidating to try out for consumers. Whereas Stranahan’s prices their other products on the higher end along with competitors like Westward Whiskey Single Malt and R6 Single Malt, Stranhan’s bucks the trend with Blue Peak.
For a reasonable $43, consumers now have the opportunity to dive into the world of American single malts. While it doesn’t showcase the depth that other American single malts on the market might offer, it does provide a great introduction to the category. Additionally, for those who have eyed the Stranahan’s brand in the past but didn’t want to pony up to try their products, Blue Peak provides a reasonably priced entry path into the brand.
Lower in proof and price, Blue Peak provides a great gateway into the world of American single malt whiskey.
American single malt whiskeys have slowly been gaining steam over the years. What was once a niche category to play in, has quickly captured the attention of distillers around the country. While Stranahan’s may have been one of the first to really make a name for itself in this category, the company has continued to innovate over the years.
Blue Peak Single Malt Whiskey is a fine example of this innovation. Bucking the trend in both proof and price, this solera aged single malt delivers an easy to appreciate sip that is sure to draw in new fans into the American single malt category. While it’s not as much of a defined product as some of Stranahan’s other products, it offers just enough complexity and enjoyment to make it an easy recommendation for the price. If you’ve ever wondered what American single malts taste like compared to a standard bourbon or rye, Blue Peak is an affordable choice to dive in and find out.