Roughstock Black Label Montana Whiskey
It’s very rare that I find myself at a loss for words, but it’s taken me a really long time to come to grips with this one. I don’t know how I can possibly convince you that a two year old whiskey from Montana can be as good as this is. Not kidding. Two!
Bozeman, Montana’s Roughstock Distillery is the party responsible for this young American single malt, and man, what a credit to have in their portfolio. Black Label (not to be confused with the Johnnie Walker blend under the same appellation) is a single barrel release of what they refer to as ‘Western style’ whiskey, and is served up at an ungodly 64.1% abv. The casks selected to be bottled under this label are chosen for their intrinsic character and high standards of quality, above and beyond what the average Roughstock cask can boast. In other words: “We cherry picked the best and want you to be able to see what we’re capable of.” Granted you pay a high price point for this young’un, but it does certainly net you a good return for your dollars. The Roughstock website refers to this expression as “untouched: uncut, unfiltered, and unadulterated”. These cowboys sure know how to sweet talk, huh?
This particular batch that we’re speaking to at the moment comes from cask #86, distilled on 02.08.11 and bottled on 03.21.13. That’s about 25 months of courtship between the spirit and the fresh oak. Incredible. I have trouble simply wrapping my head around the integration, subtlety (in spite of the high-test abv!) and polished nature of the spirit these guys have managed to create in such a short time. Expect a malt that tastes years older than the dates belie; has all the hallmarks of good single malt; and is presented in all its naked glory.
This is, quite frankly, stunning whiskey. Hats off and a well-earned score for the Roughstock crew. Can’t wait to try more from these guys.
Nose: Oh, wow. Like a dry brushfire. Creamy caramel and toffee (that grow with time in the glass). Butter tarts and raw pastry (salty dough). Dark fruits and pepper. Cinnamon and other spices. Orange, apple and pear. A slight char, smoky edge.
Palate: A little more youth showing here, but it’s still not a ‘young’ whisky. Wow! Toasted oak. Apple skins, ginger, pepper and sharp clove or cinnamon. Moist dried fruit. Burnt sugars or very dark caramel. A note of what I imagine to be bruleed orange peel. Long finish on green apple skins and oak notes.
Thoughts: This is ‘manly’ whiskey that would appeal to a lot of the men and women I know. Over a hundred bucks a bottle, but I would buy this again anytime.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
Great to see this review! I have a bottle from cask 48, distilled on 12.5.09 and bottled 11.9.12 so a little longer in the cask (~35 months) with a lower ABV of 60.06% to match. I got it for $60 in Whitefish so look for it down in Montana and pay half the Alberta price!
Anyway – totally agree on the big doughy character – it’s like raw dough chalk full of baking spices and dried/candied fruit. Raw hot-cross bun dough maybe?! Also smells like the inside of horse barn which is totally great for a Montana whiskey. The palate more than lives up to the nose too. Definitely a big whiskey.
Hey Curt, interesting review this. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on the Black Label for a while now. This review will certainly tip me over the edge.