McCarthy’s Oregon Hard Water Exclusive

American Whiskey Review #101: McCarthy’s Oregon Hard Water Exclusive

Distillery: Clear Creek.

Region: Oregon.

Age: NAS. Barrelled on February 19th, 2016. Bottled on February 3rd, 2020.

Cask Type: Refill Garryana (potentially even 6th or 7th fill).

Mashbill: Peated Scottish barley.

ABV: 55.6%

Price: Sample Courtesy of /u/dustbunna, his review can be found here.

Color: 1.2, Chestnut/Oloroso Sherry. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

It’s the first day of December and this is the first installment of this years’ Christmas Countdown. You can see the 2020 edition here and 2019 edition here.


Nose: The peat in this is evident, but not overpowering. Following the smoke comes a lot of fruity notes. Berries to be precise and loads of them with a slightly tart and tangy side. It’s an assortment of berries with huckleberries and blueberries standing out the most.

Palate: It’s quite sweet, almost dessert levels of sweet. There’s a bready element to this. Overall, it reminds me of something between a glazed Krispy Kreme donut and the assorted Mexican sweet breads some of the guys I used to work with would bring in every so often. It is a touch hot at full strength, but nothing unbearable and a bit of water alleviates things nicely.

Finish: Medium in length. The berry notes come back again in the form of a raspberry jam. The sweeter bread notes come through as well from the palate with the combination reminding me of a raspberry jam filled glazed donut.


Conclusion: I’ve heard nothing but good things about the work the folks at Clear Creek are doing and was excited to jump right in. I wasn’t sure what to expect of an American distillery using peated Scottish barley but hoped for the best. Whatever they’ve done, it seems to be working quite well at least for me. The nose is bright and full of fruity berry notes that go along really well with the bit of peat that comes through. The palate is full of sweet breads and glazed donuts. I wish the finish would linger longer as the jam filled glazed donut note was one I’d loved. All in all, it’s a super tasty whiskey and I’ll have to make sure I keep an eye out for more bottles from the good folks in Oregon!

Final Score: 82.


American Whiskey Review #101, Oregon Review #2, American Single Malt Review #6, Whisky Network Review #486


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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