Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Craft Whiskey Week - Lost Spirits Seascape and Leviathan
A few years ago, I reviewed Obsello, a really nice absinthe made in Spain by expat American Bryan Davis (aka B. Alex). Davis sold his absinthe distillery and moved back to California to open Lost Spirits Distillery in Salinas.
Inspired by his first taste of Octomore, Bryan and his business partner Joanne, set out to make a peated American single malt. Using California barley and Canadian peat, they released their last two whiskeys last month: Seascape and Leviathan I.
Both whiskeys are cask strength, non-chill filtered, single cask bottlings that are aged in French oak late harvest Cabernet casks from a Napa winery. The difference is in peating level, with the Leviathan being peated to an Octomore-like 110 ppm and the Seascape being a somewhat more lightly peated 55 ppm, though that still puts it solidly in the Ardbeg/Lagavulin level. Given that they are cask strength, single barrel bottlings, the abv varies.
Lost Spirits Seascape, Cask 1, 53% abv ($45)
The nose on this is very new makey with some nice, mezcal like smokiness. The palate hits you right off with smoke, but not like a peated Scotch, more like inhaling the fumes from a camp fire with a little bit of sweet mint in the background. The finish is a day old ashtray. This stuff is way too young, but it's engaging and the smoky quality is nice. Nothing picks up new make like a bunch of peat.
Lost Spirits Leviathan I, Cask 2, 53% abv ($55)
The nose on the Leviathan has a new make quality similar to the Seascape, very malty, also with some smoky mezcal notes. On the palate I expected a peat assault, but it's more of that smoky mezcal. The finish has peat notes, but also lots of dark chocolate. The finish has barbecue ash. If I was blind tasting this, I most certainly would have guessed that it was a smoky mezcal.
Like lots of the better craft whiskeys out there, these show promise but are way too young tasting. Remember, most heavily peated Scotch ages at least five years. I'm guessing these are under a year. If you like smoky mezcal, you might enjoy these, but they are much closer to that (which is usually unaged) than a traditional peated whiskey.