Review : St George’s Lot 21 Single Malt Whiskey

My recent visit to San Francisco had me follow up on a list of local distilleries penned by my brother, one being the St. George’s Distillery. At first, I was a bit apprehensive as I didnt want to try the typical American staple – Bourbon, seemed more of a cliche. However my brother turned my frown upside down when he mentioned that the distillery also produced whiskies, and not necessarily the stereotypical “e” kind but a reversioned “e” – a.k.a the Single Malt kind – YESSS!! (*punching the air*).

American ‘Single Malts’ are a scarce commodity with their introduction being fairly recent, reason enough for me to grab myself two different expressions from the distillery’s Single Malt range. And what makes American Single Malt different you ask? Well they aren’t typically made from proportions that are predominantly Corn or Rye, but instead from 100% malted barley! For it to be an American Single Malt (ASM), it needs to be matured and distilled at a single distillery on American soil at not more than 160 proof. Although there aren’t any demarcations in terms of the minimum age, the addition of colour, or the type of barrel – virgin or reused, the oak casks itself can’t exceed 700 litres. I believe a formal definition for ASM will be evident in the not so distant future!

Lot 21, our choice for this review is a yearly release from the distillery, the lineage making its first appearance in the year 2000 starting off as batch / lot 1.  Lot 21 uses a mash bill consisting of roasted barley and unroasted barley smoked using beech and alder wood. Made from a blend of whiskies from around 26 barrels, the whiskey is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon casks – Tennessey and Kentucky along with American and French oak casks that previously held agricole rum, Sauternes inspired Californian wine and apple brandy. While the whiskey doesn’t come with an age, it’s contents come from casks that are a minimum of 4.5 years and a little over 10 years, while also containing whiskey as old as 22 years.

Abv : 43%

Eye : Deep copper

Nose : Caramel infused with herbal, earthy notes  followed by malt and red wine influences. There are nuances of brown sugar interleaved with oak and the richness of plums, dates and raisins braised with a hint of smoke and bbq sauce. Leather and sun dried tomatoes are trailed by pepper, olives, ginger and nutmeg.

Taste : Sweet and subdued, cola with a unique toasty- malty aftertaste that is almost beer like. Charred, woody and herbal, dry on the palate with a whisper of vanilla and orange peel that cuts through.

Finish : Medium | Sweet with deep malty notes accompanied by some pepper

Lot 21 is a somewhat bipolar whiskey; i say this because the nose and palate appear to be two different sides of a coin. The nose is rich with some of that rum and wine percolating into the spirit but the palate takes a 360 spin with a very  beer like malty, earthy and green flavour that is both unique and surprising. Good breadth and complexity  the whiskey does deliver an experience but might not necessarily be suited as an everyday dram.

At about USD $119, it comes in a bit expensive and lands a bit above the realms of a mediocre spirit delivering a very unique profile that is much worth trying. However, I would have loved a more fuller, rounded experience on the palate, with the influences of the different woods being more pronouced, but this one didn’t come with all guns blazing! So all in all, the Lot is not bad and certainly not average but falls in between missing greatness!

Slainte!

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