Whiskey Del Bac Ode to Islay


Classification: American Single Malt Finished in a Mix of Bourbon, Tequila, and Second-Use Whiskey Del Bac Dorado Barrels

Company: Whiskey Del Bac

Distillery: Whiskey Del Bac

Release Date: Winter 2022

Proof: 110

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Blend of three 100% malt mashbills:

-100% Mesquited-not-peated Malt Mashbill
-60% Unsmoked Malt, 40% Mesquited Malt Mashbill
-100% Unsmoked Malt Mashbill

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $90 (2023)

Official Website


Big mesquite smoke up front | Vanilla | Cinnamon | White pepper | Bold & punchy


Mesquite smoke | Graham cracker | Charred marshmallow | Caramel-dipped apple | Light pepper spice | Light leather | Layers of rich flavor


White pepper | Dried cherry | Seasoned oak | Brown sugar | Mesquite smoke lingers


A wild combination of three 100% malt mashbills AND three different finishes, Whiskey Del Bac’s Ode to Islay pushes the boundaries of what it means to be an American single malt.

Led by a father-daughter team out of Tucson, Arizona, Whiskey Del Bac continues to break new ground in the growing American single malt whiskey space with this 900 bottle annual limited release. Ode to Islay, which was formerly referred to as their Winter Release, is a nod to Scotland’s Islay single malt style of whiskey-making, though this release is decisively different. According to Whiskey Del Bac, “This expression is a bold, heavily-smoked American Single Malt Whiskey inspired by the super-smoky single malts of Islay. Ode to Islay is our way to raise a glass to tradition and pave your own way with Southwestern ingredients. It is heavily mesquited – not peated.” If you want even more details, be sure to check out Head Distiller Mark Vierthaler’s release notes.

The whiskey is an adventure in flavor from start to finish. Surprisingly approachable, yet bold and punchy at the same time, its layered and complex delivery of flavors will please whiskey fans who enjoy a high proof, smoky whiskey style. Mesquite smoke is clearly dominant throughout, but the whiskey does well to layer in additional flavors that offer welcome familiarity.

The combination of familiar and unfamiliar leads to a whiskey that will definitely challenge traditional bourbon and even some American single malt drinkers at first, but given the opportunity to get to know it will find a lot to love. Three 100% malt mashbills and multiple finishing barrels, including ex-bourbon and ex-tequila barrels, results in a whiskey that’s anything but ordinary…in the best of ways. It won’t be for everyone, but will reward those willing to explore whiskey outside their comfort zone.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Nick Beiter

February 23, 2023
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