This summer, Beam Suntory joined the wave of American single malt whisky and released Clermont Steep distilled and aged in Clermont, Kentucky. As told by the producer, the Master Distiller Freddie Noe tested 67 different barley varieties and fermented it with Beam family jug yeast.
On their website, a good amount of detail is given for the production of this particular single malt. As I do appreciate it, I want to write a few of them here too. Barley variety that was used for this whiskey is 80% standard(?) malted barley and 20% Golden Pilsner Malted Barley. 3 days of fermentation followed by a column still distillation ending at a distillation proof of 135 and barrel entry proof of 125 takes us to maturation. It was aged for 5 years in new American oak, which actually influenced my thoughts about the whisky the most.
I tasted this whiskey in multiple occasions, neat, on rocks and in cocktails. The first words that came out of my mouth at each neat occasion was 'premature'. Unfortunately, Clermont Steep was far away from connecting me to the American single malt that I had in my mind. The nose is way dominated with the oak grain, and it just reminded me of American craft distilleries that are launching young products.
However, on the palate you can easily pick up the Jim Beam DNA, if you like to sip some of their small batch bourbons like Baker's or Booker's. That is when I said 'a single malt with Beam bourbon character'. The finish is very long but the peppery character just attacks with the toasted oak wildly.
Clermont Steep American Single Malt Whiskey
I strongly believe that 5 years of aging was not enough to deliver the character that most single malt drinkers are expecting. Though as we all know, whisky game is sometimes learning in progress and I have no doubt that in the following years, Clermont Steep will bring us extraordinary single malts just like we have been witnessing from the other distilleries in the last decade.
Clermont Steep is definitely bringing a new breath to the American Single Malt category, and I am so happy that a big player finally stepped into this category to challenge successful players like Westland and Virginia distilleries.