Forty years is a long time. It just happens to be how long ago the craft distilling boom began. Four distilleries started it: Germain-Robin, Jaxson Keys Winery, St. George Spirits, and Charbay Distillery.
“In 1982, there were fewer than than 20 distilleries in the United States. Today there are more than 2,000. When Jörg [Rupf] ran his first batch of eau de vie on his 65-gallon pot still, he didn’t just start St. George Spirits, he started a movement. In the years that followed, he also helped countless other distillers launch their own operations. Jörg’s legacy—creating spirits of uncompromising quality while helping blaze the trail for artisan distillers—lives on in everything we do.” – St. George Spirits
St. George Spirits has come a long way since that first batch of eau de vie. It currently distills gin, vodka, liqueurs, brandy, absinthe, shochu, and American Single Malt whisky. And to commemorate this milestone, the distillery recently released its 40th Anniversary Edition Single Malt Whiskey.
Six hundred barrels were sampled and whittled down to just fourteen. Some barrels were four years old. The oldest is one of the first casks the distillery laid down. Various vintage cooperages once held umeshu, tawny port, and Californa Sauternes wine. This single malt is bottled at 48% ABV (96°) and should begin to show up on store shelves in mid-November. There are 1982 bottles available (did you catch the mathematical Easter egg?).
St. George Spirits will also donate $40,000 to STEPUP Foundation. Its mission is “[t]o provide underserved and underrepresented individuals with hands-on training and education, encouragement, and opportunities to enter the spirits community through a comprehensive internship program like no other in the alcohol beverage industry.”
I know you have a few questions, one of which is, How does it taste? That’s easily answered once I #DrinkCurious. But before I do, I must thank St. George Spirits for providing me with a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: This single malt presented as deep caramel when I poured it neat into my Glencairn glass. It took some effort to seduce a rim, which remained micro-thin. Watery legs fell but left sticky tears behind.
Nose: An aroma reminiscent of Fresca wafted from my glass. Buttered popcorn, brown sugar, caramel, and Almond Joy candy joined the fruity soda. When I pulled that air into my mouth, cocoa and toasted coconut rolled across my tongue.
Palate: A silky but heavy texture greeted my palate. The front consisted of a thick blend of coffee, dark chocolate, and vanilla cream. Flavors of caramel, coconut, almond, and citrus peel hit the middle, while cinnamon, clove, and candied ginger were on the back.
Finish: Tangerine, toasted coconut, caramel, clove, cinnamon, ginger, and smoked oak made for a long, complicated, lingering finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I believe St. George Spirits knocked one out of the ballpark with this single malt whiskey. Everything from the nose to the finish was stunning. I thought the light smoky oak of the finish was a near-perfect way to end things.
I mentioned one question you had was how this tasted. Another has to be, What does it cost? As you can imagine, a whiskey with distillate from the first runs isn’t inexpensive. The 40th Anniversary Edition Single Malt Whiskey has a suggested price of $500.00 for a 750ml bottle.
When we enter this super ultra-premium price category, it is beyond my means. You’ll want to try this if you’ve got a generous friend or if a great whiskey bar manages to obtain one. If you can afford it, I believe you’d walk away happy with a Bottle. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.