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Whiskey Notes Volume 3.24

Between 2014-2018 I spent many long weekends in Tucson, AZ. I spent time hiking, rock climbing, caving, and mountain biking throughout the area. One thing I distinctly remember was the early morning smell of the desert. It was a combination of woody scents like desert willow, mesquite, and agave, aromas of minty, floral verbena, citrusy notes, and a distinct dirt and creosote smell. After a monsoon rain, those smells were intensified. I still travel to Tucson every February as an escape from the cold and snow for a biking holiday. My favorite activity is an early morning mountain bike ride in the desert to reacquaint myself with the smell and sounds of the Sonoran desert.

Whenever I travel to a city, I always do some research to see if there is a local distillery (as I’m sure most of you do). I never knew that there was a distillery in the Old Pueblo and after some research last year I went on a tour of the Whiskey Del Bac distillery. While I was intrigued by their story and their whiskey, I wanted to learn more. This year I had the honor of spending a few hours with Stephen Paul, one of the owners, did a deep dive tour of his distillery, met his distillers, and tasted some of their recent special releases.

They produce American Single Malt Whiskey and also offer a Rye Whiskey, called Sentinel Straight Rye (which makes a great Desert Old Fashioned). 

Whiskey Del Bac sources their malted and un-malted barley out of the Pacific Northwest. The un-malted barley is soaked to initiate germination then dried using heat and mesquite smoke. This mesquite smoked barley is used for their Dorado single malt whiskey. Their Classic single malt whiskey is made with un-smoked malted barley.

In the past few years, they've added an annual release of finished single malt whiskeys to their core selection and a special quarterly release called Distiller’s Cut

I brought back the Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 Distillers Cut Whiskeys and decided to share the Fall 2023 Distillers Cut for our second special Whiskey Club Member tasting because it truly represents the aroma and flavors memories I have of Tucson.

Whiskey Del Bac Distillers Cut Fall Release 2023

Every Distiller’s Cut expression is a one-of-a-kind release, the Fall 2023 Distiller’s Cut ideation and blend comes from their Lead Distiller, Dustin Cox and is handcrafted by the entire distillery team.

This expression is built on a mesquite-smoked base single malt that was initially matured in New American White Oak, then finished in Tawny Port barrels. The deep smoke and complexity is further boosted by blending with a separate batch of mesquited-not-peated single malt finished in Sauternes barrels (description is courtesy of Whiskey Del Bac)

Mashbill: 100% Mesquite-Smoked Malted Barley

Age: 2+ years

Proof: Cask Strength 58% ABV or 116 proof

MSRP: $120

Special Note: I recognize that a smokey whiskey may not be everyone’s favorite, but I wanted to share with you a unique American Single Malt that truly represents the desert southwest. I suggest letting the whiskey sit for a bit after enjoying a few sips, then come back and notice how the aroma and flavor mellow a bit. Add a drop of two of room temperature water and see how it changes.

I haven’t included tasting notes because I’m really interested in what others nose and taste. Post your comments to share with your fellow whiskey club members. I’m hoping to have Stephen or one of his colleagues join us next year for a whiskey club event so you can learn the stories I didn't include about Whiskey Del Bac and taste more of their whiskey.

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Wonderful single malt. Nose was definitely the smoke and campfire, with hints of blackberry. Tasting was campfire, marshmallows and cherries with a wonderful finish. Thanks!


Thanks for sharing Greg 🥃

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