You would never confuse the Monterey area in California for Scotland, but a dram of one of the Lost Spirits single malts on an especially cold day might bring on that illusion. Distiller Bryan Davis starts with California-grown barley that he smokes at the distillery with Canadian peat; then he ferments it with some sea water, which changes the boiling point slightly and draws out different aromatics. From this basic recipe he produces two distinctly different whiskies: Seascape he ages in a combination of used French oak casks he’s scavenged from a number of Napa wineries, and American oak barrels that previously held the Lost Spirit rum. The result is a whiskey that’s almost savory, with smoky, mushroomy notes that move towards coastal grass and allspice. Leviathan gets a much longer period of smoking and goes into Sherry-conditioned French oak casks; it’s more overtly smoky with peat, and heads toward dark chocolate, cherry and baking spice flavors. Both whiskies are best enjoyed neat, merely dressed with a little water or ice. Given the care and craftsmanship that went into them, they are also both amazing values.
Reviewed in W&S December 2014.