By Father John Rayls
Cut Spike is a renamed/re-branded distillery in La Vista, Nebraska, a little community outside of Omaha. It was founded in 2008 as Solas by its sister brewing company, Lucky Bucket, and this whiskey is the first single malt release in Nebraska since Prohibition.
Although an American malt doesn’t necessarily have to be, this whiskey is made entirely from barley malt, in Scottish style with copper pot stills. The current version is aged for two years in charred American oak casks, and mine came from batch number 003, bottled on June 18, 2015.
The whiskey is lighter in color than a proper bourbon, but darker than most Scotch whiskies, with a medium copper color in the bottle. The liquid appears much lighter in the glass. There it takes on more of a golden hue with light reflecting the lighter colors and almost sparkling in the glass. Cut Spike makes it clear they don’t add any coloring to their whiskey. This is a thin whiskey that will leave long legs, but very thin and inconsistent on the walls of the glass, appearing as droplets rather than streams.
The nose is also very bright and enjoyable. It is easily observed and experienced, and very sweet with little or no burn with notes of fresh fruit on top and underlying tones of butterscotch and vanilla. There is a faint note of oak buried way underneath the rest. You may find yourself returning to these aromas over and over.
The taste is true to expectations built from the nosing. It doesn’t really coat the mouth, but has a pleasant feel when held there momentarily. The action in the mouth is primarily in the front and on the tip of the tongue. It’s briefly redirected to the back of the mouth before concentrating at the front once again. There are only brief, periodic mid-mouth activations before the medium finish lingers a bit before fading out along the sides of the tongue.
The distillery describes Cut Spike as a “Distinct whiskey [with] notes of honey, vanilla, dark fruit and oak”. I think they are being a little optimistic with the oak notes, but the other notes are fair. You can smell the oak at times, but it’s difficult to get a deep sense of the oak presence on the palate. I discerned fresh fruit, vanilla and honey, and found it airy, fresh and sweet, if slightly hot for 86 proof (43% abv).
This is a young, 100% malt whiskey, enjoyable and easy to drink with nice aromas and a pleasant palate experience. It will never be mistaken for a Scotch single malt, but nor should it be. I would Cut Spike to become even better in the future, as it continues to age.
This is a very localized whiskey (Omaha area) and may be initially difficult to find. It should retail near the $60.00 range.