The Quintessential Special Release Portside American Single Malt Whiskey Review


I've been enjoying my journey of diving deep into American Single Malts. They are sprouting up all over, partially due to distiller experience, venue, and type of barley used, and the various distilleries’ stocks are starting to mature.


Despite much cooperation and agreement between distilleries, this is still an unregulated category, so distillers can pretty much do whatever they want, attempting various aging methods, casks, etc. They can call their whiskey a Single Malt even if it doesn’t follow the more traditional definition.


The Quint family at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery has been involved in the distilling business for nine generations. The Master Distiller, Jeff Quint, and his son, Murphy, the Master Blender, are long-time Scotch whiskey fans and collaborated to create their own Single Malt called The QuintEssential. Murphy learned how to distill from the folks at Stranahan's in Colorado.


The QuintEssential began with 100% two-row barley imported from Canada. It was an incredible blend of peated and unpeated whiskeys that earned a Bottle rating and my 2021 American Single Malt Whiskey Runner-Up Award.


Since then, Cedar Ridge has released The Quintessential Special Release Portside. It is distilled from 100% two-row pale malted barley. After aging six years in former Cedar Ridge Bourbon barrels, they went through a finishing process. A portion was first-fill Ruby Port, a second was first-fill Amontillado Sherry, and a third in virgin French oak casks. Murphy then blended them to form a whiskey packaged at 58.6% ABV (117.2°), with a suggested price of $99.99.


“For this release in particular, I wanted to do something with a lot of Port influence. I like to produce big, bold, meaty single malts, so I decided to utilize First-Fill Ruby Port casks in order to capture maximum Port flavor.

To round it out, I married it with single malt finished in a First-Fill Amontillado Sherry Butt and one Virgin French Oak cask. The end result is definitely Port-dominated, but it has a nice twist to it due to the Sherry and French Oak influence.” – Murphy Quint


How did Murphy do? Does Portside hold up to the high standard that the original set? The only way we know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before we get there, I must thank Cedar Ridge for sending me a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I poured this whiskey into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. It had a reddish hue. The thin rim shed tears that looked like needles.


Nose: When I brought the glass to my face, there was an explosion of chocolate. Once I got past that, the aroma included black cherries, dark raisins, roasted almonds, and an earthy quality that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was all dark chocolate when I drew the air through my lips.


Palate: Portside possessed a full-bodied mouthfeel. The front of my palate encountered fresh raisins, figs, and plums. The middle tasted of dried apricots, raspberries, and raw almonds. The back had black pepper, lime peel, and leather.


Finish: The leather and black pepper cruised through to the very end. However, the journey included figs, apricots, and lime. Overall, it was a long duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I don’t usually close out my reviews with this, but damn… this is one spectacular whiskey! I took a pour of the original The Quintessential. As good as that is, Portside is in a totally different universe. There’s nothing not to fall head-over-heels in love with. It is a fruity, flavorful experience that is sure to please and is an easy slam-dunk Bottle rating. 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 to do so responsibly.