McCarthy’s Oregon 03-year-old

"I think the people at Clear Creek, with a little help from the Widmer brothers, have succeeded to make a very decent peated whisky that can measure itself with many single malts from Scotland outside Islay"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Peat and American whiskey is not a combination that you find often, which already makes this a fascinating spirit to try. A product from Steve McCarthy’s Clear Creek Distillery, who started with the distillation of eau-de-vies from the fruits of the family’s orchard. When he started his own single malt after tasting peated Scotch single malt during a difficult fishing trip in Ireland, he was pioneering into unknown territories in the US. The origin of the peated malt is Scotland, but I have read links to both Port Ellen and a malting house in Inverness, so it could be that they changed their sourcing somewhere. What stayed the same is the wash is prepared by the Widmer Brothers in Portland. The spirit is distilled in the same copper stills that are used for the fruit eau-de-vies and matured in air-dried refill and first-fill Oregon oak barrels.

Nose

You can easily find the peat when you put your nose above the glass. A friendly peat with some coal smoke, a dryish peat and a distant bonfire. Furthermore, there is a slight mineral site to this one, and a pinch of salt. Oregon is bordering the ocean, right? Then a clear sense of vanilla, or to be more specifically, custard. A few stewed pears (with custard) for dessert.

Taste

The peat is there, this time a more vegetal kind, and a shovel full of sand, a few autumn leaves and a beautiful kind of smoked honey. Developing into some liquorice root, more influence from the cask with vanilla and coconut, and again we have the pears at the end.

Overall

I think the people at Clear Creek, with a little help from the Widmer brothers, have succeeded to make a very decent peated whisky that can measure itself with many single malts from Scotland outside Islay. The products from the home of peated whisky are probably a bit too far fetched yet. If I want to make a little bit of a critical mark, I miss something particular in the character that makes it different from Scotch, I mean we are at the other side of the ocean. A separate style of US peated whisky, I believe it should have a bright future.

What others say

Whiskybase: 86.00 (1 vote) * @TheWhiskeyJug: 91/100 * @TheWhiskeyWash: 4/5 * @ScotchNoob: Recommended
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
25%
Peat/smoke
50%
  • Peat
  • Minerals
  • Pears
Nose 86%
Taste 85.5%
Balance 85%
Depth 84%
Finish 85.5%
Score