Like many American startup distillers, Nick and Amanda Swift set out to create a new life away from the corporate grind with a vision to produce an American single malt whiskey in the image of a Speyside Scotch. They trekked to the whiskey trails of Great Britain, Japan, and Kentucky, sampling and studying materials and techniques. They collaborated with breweries and wine and sherry makers, tested a variety of ingredients, and of course, tasted beer, wine and whiskey all along the way. Every variable needed to reflect care, love, and intent to ensure their whiskey would be undeniably and uniquely theirs.
Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey succeeds in capturing the essence of Speyside but with an American flair. Using malted barley from Scotland, their core expression is aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The NAS (non-age-statement) dram is young but nicely apportioned, achieving a sense of maturity that belies its youth. This effect, common among warm-weather distilleries, arrives courtesy of accelerated maturation due to heat. Not exactly cooked, the whiskey proves that two years in Texas compares positively to the extended maturation in cool Scottish and Irish climes.
The whiskey pours pale gold, reflecting the absence of caramel or other colorants. Initially soft and reserved, the nose grows steadily into waves of maple, caramel, buttered toast, and coconut, backed by hints of dried savory herbs. Hand-warming the glass releases more of the mid-sweet chocolate and vanilla aromas, followed by cereal maltiness and, eventually, some sherry.
The initial palate belies its 43% ABV- warm but not fiery. The sherry is subtle, almost like an aromatic red wine. Slightly drying, the mid-palate reveals toasted coconut, more vanilla, oaky tannins, and a granulated sugar-like sweetness. The finish is relatively short (still with very little heat) and exhibits a smooth and light roundness- the aftertaste hinting toward orchard fruits, vanilla, more malt, and distant smoke.
Although the distillery is situated in the Texas hill country west of Austin, you can hear the whisper of far-away River Spey in every glass of Swift Texas Single Malt. We look forward to an opportunity to sample their Sauternes expression, an ode to the Swifts’ ongoing interest in combining old-world ideas with the new world’s up-and-coming malt marketplace.