McCarthy’s 6 Year Cognac Cask Finish

American Whiskey Review #104: McCarthy’s 6 Year Cognac Cask Finish

Distillery: Clear Creek.

Region: Oregon.

Age: 6 Year with a 6 month finish in a cognac cask. Bottled on October 15, 2022.

ABV: 57.75%.

Price: Day 4 of Advent Calendar (see below).

Color: 1.4, Tawny. Natural Color and Non Chill Filtered.

This dram is the fifth of 2022’s Christmas Countdown! Whiskies from previous years can be found here.

Every year, I look at the advent calendar offerings that pop up across the pond and think that it would be super cool to do something like that (it is actually the inspiration for my review spree in December). Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do one so between /u/federalagents, /u/DangerousDoorknob, and I we put our own together! This is the fourth dram of the calendar. Joe O’Sullivan, Clear Creek’s master distiller, joined us on Discord for a tasting of this dram.


Nose: There’s a very gentle smoke that meets you first. Joe described his ideal balance of smoke in a dram as peering through the woods at a fire and I definitely can see that kind of smoke levels with this nose. There is also a lot of sweet notes that come following the smoke. Berry jam and jelly donuts are what come to mind. Later some notes of orange peel / oil come through as well.

Palate: While it certainly does not drink harshly, this one needed water for me. A few drops in and it became super easy drinking. It is quite sweet with loads of orange notes, similar to a marmalade with loads of orange rind in it, along with some earthier ones with damp soil coming to mind. With some time, some more spice notes come out with rainbow peppercorn and star anise specifically. Something that reminded me of cardamom popped in as well.

Finish: Medium in length. It is a touch bitter, but not an unpleasant kind of bitterness. Orange oils are what come to mind, as if you’d squeezed an orange rind and lined the glass. A hint of nuttiness also comes through, almond oil perhaps. At the very end a little bit of the sweet smoke comes up as well.


Conclusion: Since trying a lovely McCarthy’s about a year ago, I’ve wanted to explore a little more about what their whiskey was all about. While I’ve certainly stockpiled a few samples, I’ve not had a chance to dive into any of them so I was really excited when /u/DangerousDoorknob told me this was part of the advent calendar. It is a really lovely whisky here. You get a nice balance of smoke in the nose and finish with some sweeter fruit and bitter notes. The palate contains a really nice transition from orange to earth to spice that keeps you thinking. Joe O’Sulivan mentioned this was a whiskey he was personally really excited about bottling and it is really easy to see why he would be. Good stuff and I imagine it is one that will continue to get better the longer the bottle is open.

Final Score: 83.


American Whiskey Review #104, Oregon Review #3, American Single Malt Review #7, Whisky Network Review #586


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
  • 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
  • 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
  • 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
  • 70-74: Alright, solid and 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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