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House Spirits Straight Malt


CorvallisCracker
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CorvallisCracker

A couple of Saturdays ago I was up in Portland, doing some shopping for bourbon and other spirits. When I got done with that, I headed over to House Spirits distillery, where I'd arranged a visit and tour.

HS is best known for Aviation Gin, one made in the style of a jonge g(j)enever. They make a number of other spirits, all of which I tried. I'll be putting my notes, along with my description of the distillery, into a blog post. When that's done I'll put a link to it in the "other alcohol" forum.

But one which I'll go ahead and post about now is their malt whiskey.

This was released in December, in three versions: a white dog (sold out), a barrel proof (sold out) and a 90 proof version (still available).

This last one is erroneously listed on the OLCC list as a rye whiskey. I brought this to their attention and they are trying to get it resolved.

It's 100% malted barley, unpeated, aged two years and eight months in new charred 53 gallon American oak.

It's a nice copper color, with aromas of malt, caramel and a hint of orange. It's a little rough on the palate, with only the barest hint of oak. Finish is short, with some burn.

They are charging $50 a bottle for it, which is too much. After all, Glengoyne 10 is four times older and five dollars cheaper (OR price).

Despite this, it's selling well, probably because of the novelty factor and being a local product. I don't believe that will last, but I've been wrong before.

This is my main complaint about Oregon whiskies - that they're too young. The best of them, McCarthy's Single Malt, is aged only three years, and manages the neat trick of being peaty without being obnoxious about it (attention, Laphroaig!), but could definitely benefit from more time in the barrel. I do know that they have some that's being aged longer - right now it's a little over four years old. I don't know when they plan to bottle it (they may not know either).

This is ancient by Oregon standards. In 2008, Cascade Peak released a batch of nine-month old rye, but have not followed up with subsequent releases (and I doubt it's because they're aging it longer, though I should check into this).

And then there's Rogue "Dead Guy Whiskey", aged for a whole 30 days. I haven't tried this, though I know a couple of people who have. Reports are not encouraging.

Last month I posted this about two local guys who are planning to make rye whiskey. Their finances are stretched thin, and they're considering bottling it in as little as four months.

I've come to the conclusion that if anyone is going to properly age whiskey in this state, it's going to have to be me.

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Thanks for the info! I hadn't heard of either House Spirits or Hard Times, so please keep us updated on their progress.

As to the ageing issue, I don't think it's Oregon specific, but rather, a general issue with micros that are trying to get whiskey on the market. I had some of Copper Fox's new rye whiskey, aged 14 months, and it was pretty terrible.

For some reason, even the older microdistilleries (Anchor, CopperFox, ClearCreek and Edgefield), don't seem to be putting out older whiskies.

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CorvallisCracker
Thanks for the info! I hadn't heard of either House Spirits or Hard Times, so please keep us updated on their progress.

Well, the latest on Hard Times is that they got a line on some free ex-wine barrels at a Southern Oregon winery, so they drove down there to get those. While there they picked up 56 cases of unsellable Cabernet Sauvingon (also free), which they plan to make into vodka.

As to the ageing issue, I don't think it's Oregon specific, but rather, a general issue with micros that are trying to get whiskey on the market. I had some of Copper Fox's new rye whiskey, aged 14 months, and it was pretty terrible.

For some reason, even the older microdistilleries (Anchor, CopperFox, ClearCreek and Edgefield), don't seem to be putting out older whiskies.

I guess as long as people are willing to buy it young, they'll keep bottling it young. Maybe that's what the Public wants.

"Lets splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got - this year! No more of this old stuff!"

- Steve Martin in "The Jerk"

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The rye from cascade peak is something else. They sent me out a bottle of bourbon to try that was just about to turn 2. Very well made stuff. They did not make a lot a first, but I understand they are making again now.

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CorvallisCracker
The rye from cascade peak is something else. They sent me out a bottle of bourbon to try that was just about to turn 2. Very well made stuff. They did not make a lot a first, but I understand they are making again now.

I guess I should get in touch and find out what they're doing.

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Here's a shot of the bottle. I've visited the distillery, and had small sample tastes of this whiskey, and the white dog it was made from. Because of the 100% malted barley, it is much more like Scotch than Bourbon obviously, but quite tasty.

I find it encouraging that micro-distilleries are now branching into things other than vodka and gin and the young age doesn't bother me at all. These ventures are just now getting into whiskey distillation, and are small operations. To expect them go have aged product at this point of the process is unrealistic I think. Give them time they may go that route eventually.

post-1379-14489816378892_thumb.jpg

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CorvallisCracker

To expect them go have aged product at this point of the process is unrealistic I think.

Of course it's unrealistic. They'd have to have a time machine.

What I'm suggesting is that they hold off on bottling what they've already made/barreled.

I understand cash flow problems (boy, do I ever). But House Spirits is doing pretty well with their other products (vodka, gin, aquavit), and I suspect they could have held off a little longer on bottling this.

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Surely the new micro-distilleries don't have the same ability or capacity to age product like the large mega-corporations do. You have to start somewhere...I'm sure they had valid reasons for releasing it when they did.

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CorvallisCracker

I finally got around to posting an article about House Spirits on my blog, along with tasting notes on some of their other products.

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CorvallisCracker
I finally got around to posting an article about House Spirits on my blog, along with tasting notes on some of their other products.

URL has changed due to registering a new domain. Article is now here.

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  • 1 month later...
DrinkSpirits

I am a huge fan of House and their whiskey. Had a chance to taste their Rye White Dog and it blew my socks off.

Rouge on the other hand is swill. It's some of the worst whiskey I've EVER had.

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I have a bottle of House Spirits Batch number 12. I like it. A bit of spicy citrus on the nose, has a nice earthy finish. I think they have a lot of flavor in there given the age. The benefit of new oak instead of used barrels that other single malts use? I don't like it quite as much the bottle of Stranahan's I had, but it is in the ballpark.

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It's interesting that although Scottish and Irish malt whiskey producers rarely use new charred barrels, American malt whiskey producers are required to.

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  • 4 months later...
CorvallisCracker

Partners Lee Medoff and Christian Krogstad are going their separate ways. Medoff is opening a new distillery ("Bull Run") which will continure the malt whiskey, vodka and rum production. Gin and Akvavit production will remain at House Spirits.

Article here.

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