Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey Review

Drink Reviews whiskey
Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Caribbean Rum Cask Whiskey Review

Although the American single malt whiskey category is still waiting on the official TTB definition that was supposed to arrive “imminently” last summer, it’s safe to say that the category has still come of age in recent years. More distilleries than ever are making malt whiskey throughout the U.S., subdivided into different stylistic camps. Some imitate the stylings of classic scotch distilleries through the use of ingredients such as peated malt, or aging in used whiskey barrels. Many others lean into the uniquely American profile of newly charred oak, mingling with malt whiskey. And still others, like Stranahan’s, have made unique barrel finishes and blending a calling card, particularly in the annual release of something like their sought-after Snowflake Whiskey.

But Snowflake isn’t the only annual limited release from Stranahan’s. The Colorado company also focuses more tightly in on a single style of cask finish via the annual Diamond Peak series, now in its third release. Whereas any given Snowflake expression might have half a dozen different types of spirit cask in play, Diamond Peak focuses on a single type of cask finish … though this year’s Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Caribbean Rum Cask does manage to include casks from both the Greater and Lesser Antilles, in the form of Dominican, Bajan and Martinique rums. This follows previous Diamond Peak releases, including Diamond Peak Bushmills Cask and Diamond Peak Extra Añejo Tequila Cask.

Like other Diamond Peak releases, this one begins with a blend of well-aged Stranahan’s malt whiskeys between 6 and 9 years old. That blend is then split up and aged in a variety of rum/rhum casks from The Dominican Republic, Barbados and Martinique for periods between 6 months and more than 2 years. This is a particularly interesting aspect–those who know rum know that a classic Barbados rum bears very little in common with the most common rhum agricole of Martinique, so bringing both types of finish together is a novel combination.

This year’s Diamond Peak bottling weighs in at 45% ABV (90 proof), with an MSRP of roughly $80. So with that said, let’s get to tasting it.

On the nose, I’m getting toasted malt syrup and a little grassiness, with toffee sweetness. One thing that is abundantly present is charred oak, with a sweet roastiness that I tend to find is present in most of the moderately aged blends of American single malt whiskey from Stranahan’s. It then segues into more fruity impressions of pineapple glaze and dried fruit, with slightly coconut-inflected coffee beans.

On the palate, the solidly roasty undertones of the Stranahan’s single malt whiskey are definitely there, with mild coffee and barrel char, but it’s also pretty fruity, with a nifty ability to transition cleanly between the two sides of its personality. I’m getting torched pineapple and mango here, fairly sweet overall, with plenty of vanilla as well. It’s reminiscent in some ways of a rum that has been rebarreled into freshly charred oak for a secondary finishing period to really hammer home the sweet barrel char. On the finish, there’s a suggestion of desert banana, along with some mild pepper and a little aniseed.

All in all … yeah, this works for me. The tropical fruitiness of the dram sometimes feels subtle, and sometimes feels more dramatic, but it continues to creep in, showing several dimensions. It’s a good showcase for the blending that makes up the core of the Stranahan’s ethos.

Distillery: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
City: Denver, CO
Style: American single malt whiskey
ABV: 45% (90 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $80 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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