This Cult Favorite California Whiskey Is About to Drop Its First Single Malt

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Sneaker heads and whiskey fans rejoice because Wolves Whiskey’s latest is coming out soon, and it’s the first American single malt to be released by this luxury whiskey brand. And the timing couldn’t be better, with the imminent federal classification of the category on the horizon.

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Wolves Whiskey was founded by two fashion and design luminaries—James Bond of sneaker haven Undefeated, and Jon Buscemi of his eponymous Buscemi brand and truffle hot sauce Truff. Over the past few years the pair have collaborated with Marko Karakasevic (master distiller at California’s Charbay Distillery) on a series of limited-edition whiskeys, and Kentucky’s Willett Family Estate on The Rye Project. The newest whiskey from the Wolves is Lot One of the Malted Barley Series, an American single malt that will drop via the official website on April 6.

According to a rep for the brand, Wolves acquired single malt and malted barley whiskey from eight to 12 barrel lots that were laid down beginning as far back as 2011. The liquid was distilled by Karakasevic in the same alembic pot still from Cognac, France that he uses for the Charbay lineup. Karakasevic normally takes beer that is ready to be bottled and distills it, as opposed to starting with a new mash, resulting in hopped whiskeys that have flavors that are familiar to beer lovers. This whiskey was distilled in the more traditional manner however, from a mashbill of two-row pale malted barley, and fermented with California Ale yeast.

Lot One is made up of a batch of whiskey distilled in 2015 and is a blend of 11 of the 12 barrels that was bottled at 110 proof. The whiskey was aged in virgin charred American oak, as opposed to used barrels, from Demptos Cooperage in Napa. According to the brand rep, the barrels were charred to six different levels, from a light toast up to char #3, and both American and Hungarian oak heads were used resulting in a range of flavors across the entire lot. The twelfth barrel (Hungarian oak head, heavy toast) is being bottled as a single barrel release at a higher 125 proof.

“We believe this could be the richest and most complex American single malt whiskey ever produced,” said Wolves CEO Jeremy Joseph in a statement. “ASM is an emerging category within the domestic whiskey landscape, and this is a best-in-class example of craftsmanship and flavor within it.” We got to sample the whiskey ahead of its release to see if his enthusiasm is merited. The color is a nice ruddy copper-brown, with some yellow highlights when the sun hits it at the right angle. On the nose, some hoppiness arrives first, followed by a bit of licorice, pear, apple, and dark chocolate. That chocolate note continues onto the palate, with a supporting cast of candied orange, vanilla, lemon, and a hint of herbal and grassy flavors.

Like other Wolves releases, this is a unique and distinctive whiskey, so don’t expect anything close to a bourbon (or even other American single malts you may have tried). Also like the others, this dark brown bottle comes wrapped in a signature sheepskin label. Wolves Whiskey tends to sell out fast, so if you’re keen to get ahold of a bottle, sign up for the allocation mail list via the brand’s website. Just 228 bottles of Lot One single barrel ($350) will be offered to members, while the Lot One blended single malt ($289) will be available to those who register and at select retailers. And in the meantime, you can still snag a bottle of the signature blend from websites like Total Wine.

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