Whiskey Review: McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt is made by the Clear Creek Distillery in Portland. While a number of American distilleries have come out with Single Malt offerings in the past few years, Clear Creek may be asking, ‘What took you guys so long?’ According to their Website, they’ve been selling Oregon Single Malt since the 90’s.
Let’s get to the review.
On the Nose: The aroma is divine. Peat, first and foremost. Then barley, oak, wood smoke, a slight pleasant antiseptic aroma, light sawdust and tobacco leaf.
Tongue: There’s smoke, slight oak and a faint orange note. It seems a little green compared to some Single Malt offerings from Scotland available in the same price tier.
In the finish: Lingering ash and oak.
McCarthy’s is bottled at 85-proof. It is a 3-year-old product. It retails for $54.95.
According to the label, McCarthy’s is made from peat-malted barley imported from Islay, Scotland. The barley is fermented by micro-brewery Widmer Brothers in Portland. That beer is then distilled into McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt new-make and placed into casks for maturation.
This is an exceptional product, especially considering its age. Clear Creek’s Website mentions air-dried Oregon Oak barrels, while the Caskers Website (where I purchased this particular bottle) notes that it is finished in used Sherry casks.
While this 3-year offering is great, I can’t help but wonder what a 5, 7, 10 or 12 year might offer. $54+ is a considerable sum for a 3-year single malt, particularly because it is a domestic product. They have none of the tariff, shipping or currency-exchange costs a bottle of Scotch would incur. Still, I would love to get my hands on an age-statement single-barrel produced with this distillate. Clear Creek focuses on fruit spirits – this is the only whiskey offering mentioned online.
The term “Single Malt” Scotch is an E.U. legal designation honored by U.S. trade agreements that denotes a whiskey product made in Scotland at one distillery from a mash bill of 100% malted barley. They are double (or, occasionally thrice) distilled in copper pot stills and aged for at least 3 years.
Only products made in Scotland can be called “Scotch.” So an American distiller adhering to all of those rules cannot call his or her product Scotch — simply Single Malt. But a note to the wary: There is no designation by American regulators for the term “Single Malt,” so the term alone doesn’t mean anything from a legal standpoint. Since the label does not state 100% Malted Barley, we can’t be totally ertain they didn’t sneak any corn, unmalted barley or wheat into the mash.

Article by akendeall

Aaron is a whiskey writer, brand ambassador and distiller based in Pittsburgh, Pa., who has been working in the spirits industry since 2013.