A few months ago, one of my favorite local distilleries, Manatawny Still Works, opened up a Whiskey Club which involves four shipments per year of standard or cask strength selections of their whiskies. I definitely do more damage than that every year at their distillery, so I figured this would be a fun experience, getting bottles of unique whiskies with no worrying about showing up to release day on time or placing a pre-order, plus the shipments come straight to my door. Can’t go wrong with that! When I told the husband about it, his only question was whether I’d go for cask strength or regular, not whether or not I’d join, so, yeah, pretty obvious I had to sign up.
My first shipment was due to arrive while I was visiting the husband who is currently assigned to a posting in the United Kingdom, so they thankfully held it for me and delivered once I returned home in the first week of March. I think I got the call during the last week of February, so we’re calling this February’s edition since that was the planned delivery date (the delay was my fault!). The shipment arrived packed extremely well, with a layer of bubble padding on the bottom and paper shred fill inside, and the delivery person even called before to confirm I was available to receive it which is something I REALLY appreciate. Included along with the bottle was a Glencairn glass with the Manatawny logo, a letter about the whiskey, and a club sticker. On to the whiskey, it’s a 750 mL bottle of a Single Barrel Four Grain American Whiskey at cask strength, 62% ABV. The letter included with the shipment details that this was aged in new, charred American Oak barrels for 6 years and says that the nose is cherry, pepper, and vanilla with sweet oak and gentle spice on the palate. Mine is bottle 6 of just 9 at cask strength making this super unique!
Most whiskies, I prefer to have the cask strength so that I’ve got control over the ABV. I’ve had some whiskies at 40% that were disappointingly over-diluted, and some incredible whiskies at 50% or higher that honestly didn’t need even a single drop of water. Everyone’s palate is a little different, so I enjoy having that flexibility with the cask strength edition, especially since I tend to drink whiskey neat. I’m not a whiskey tasting expert, but I enjoy a fine dram and have gotten a good handle (I think) on that whole taste-to-brain translation thing, so here are my thoughts! On the nose, I definitely get cherry – a dark, red, dried cherry, maybe a little bit of raisins too, and definitely the vanilla and caramel I’d expect from an oak barrel. Undiluted, on the palate, it does have a fair bit of fire from the 62% ABV. After adding a little water, it mellowed out and my brain immediately sparked to those fancy Amarena cherries we’ve used for cocktails. That dark, rich, syrupy cherry is definitely what I’m getting on the palate with a really nice rush of dark chocolate (like a 90% dark chocolate bar) as it rolls down the tongue, and spice at the finish with a tinge of smoke from the barrel char. I mean, wow. Absolutely perfect for the cold and snowy day we have while I write up this post, and a great whiskey to open the club!
If you want to sign up, the club is open to Pennsylvania residents, and is, in my opinion, absolutely worth it if you enjoy whiskey. I haven’t been paid or reimbursed to say any of this – the distillery has been one of our favorites since they opened, and it’s been a delight to see them grow and produce some incredibly good whiskey in their 8 years of operation. I’m only here to share the love of a fantastic whiskey, and I’m so glad to have gotten a spot in the club.