Flirting with the very definition of whisk(e)y are two remarkable spirits that have come out of a Silicon Valley time machine. Both spirits started out as 12 to 18 month-old malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery. They were then transferred to Los Angeles, under the curation of Lost Spirits Co. co-founder, Bryan Davis. Here’s where some profane 21st century science enters: Davis is an innovator by nature, and obsessed with the chemistry of maturation. He put the spirits through proprietary technology for Targeted Hyper-Esterification Aging treatment. Six days later the THEA One Reactor had infused the baby malts with the same chemical fingerprint as 15-year-olds.
At the heart of the technology is the idea that photocatalytic light can break down wood polymers in a way that imitates extended maturation in barrels. The reactor binds these molecules to young alcohol to create long carbon chain esters - the kind found in much, much older spirits. Davis claims his reactor is now capable of matching traditional aging equivalent to 20 years in barrel.
Not surprisingly, his whiskies have been referred to by some as the devil incarnate of the whisky world: Controversial and difficult to classify, threatening to undermine a cornerstone of the whisky trade (hence, abominations). For once, Jim Murray didn’t know quite what to say. Australian customs tried to ban them. And going by how good they taste, the Scots should be worried.
Then there’s a final twist. Unlike any other whisky, Davis employs ex-Riesling wood. Specifically selected for this experiment, the oak staves for The Crying of the Puma were toasted, while the staves for The Sayers of the Law were charred. And if you’re wondering about the sub titles which are as bizarre as their provenance….each whisky is named after a chapter from H.G. Wells’ classic, The island of Dr. Moreau, which seems fitting. These freakish whiskies come undiluted at 54% ABV and non chill filtered.
Peated to 45-55ppm. Laid back smokiness (at least compared with Puma). Through the bonfire there’s big barley with emerging fruits, dried apple, apricot…5-10 minutes air contact accents bacon, wood smoke, green cardamom. Big on oils and toasted marshmallow, the palate shows some sherry(?) sweetness. The finish adds lanolin as well as an earthy / farmyard edge to the aftertaste. Powerful stuff.
54% Alc./vol. Non chill filtered.
Other reviews... Feels older than the Puma and the spices are far more accentuated yet controlled, especially towards the complex coffee stained finale. 94 points
- Jim Murrays Whisky Bible 2018