Lost Lantern Independent Bottling

Lost Lantern Independent Bottling (Photo by the brand)

Independent Bottlers

Scotland has a long and storied history of impressive Scotch whiskies brought to light by independent blenders and bottlers, dating back to around 1825.  Although attributed to Gordon and MacPhail as the originator, others such as Douglas Laing, Ian MacLeod, Cadenhead, and Compass Box (to name just a few) have become synonymous with small-batch, special-release luxe Scotch whisky. Unbound by the need for distilling facilities, these bottlers are free to select unique and one-off casks, many of which are limited quantity runs and “orphan” casks from renowned producers. It also allows the distilleries the luxury of providing a market outlet for their products when the results are “unexpected” or outside the distillery’s normal flavor profile.

Lost Lantern

Enter Vermont’s independent bottler, Lost Lantern. Created by Whisky Advocate writer-turned-bottler Adam “Apolon” Polonski, and his partner, production wizard extraordinaire Nora Ganley Roper, Lost Lantern is bringing the practice to American single-malt whiskies (ASMs). Working closely with several ASM distilleries, Lost Lantern has taken some great whiskeys and tweaked them to create its own take on the original distillery’s concepts. Lost Lantern is unique because they’re the only independent bottler focused solely on American whiskies. So, it makes sense that Lost Lantern would collaborate with some of the marketplace’s best-known brands.


Balcones Distilling is considered one of the founders of craft distilling, especially in Texas. Balcones produces a range of spirits, running the gamut from affordable and “entry-level” to more premium and advanced spirits and unique cask finishes. Balcones makes rum, Bourbon, corn whiskey, single malt, Rye, and a “brandy-like” spirit called Rumble. Today I’m reviewing the Lost Lantern “Gentle Giant” American Single Malt. This whiskey is unusual for the brand because it blends five different casks from Balcones, something that the distillery itself has never done.

Gentle Giant

Clocking in at 115.2 proof (57.6ABV) and selling for $100 a bottle, this version is wildly out of left field for Balcones, and that’s what makes it so unique, in my opinion.

Tasting Notes
– Nose: Sweet cornbread, eucalyptus, Bamboo, Christmas cake
– Palate: Peanut butter, dark chocolate, banana, sugar cane, eucalyptus, caramel corn

Whiskey Del Bac

Next up are two releases from Arizona’s Whiskey Del Bac. The distillery is located in Tucson, Arizona, in the heart of the Sonoran desert. It’s best known for mesquite-smoking the barley used for its malts. Lost Lantern reimagined two whiskies based on WDB’s “Dorado,” one aptly named “Mega-Mesquite” and the other “Desert Dessert.”

Mega Mesquite

“Mega Mesquite” is bottled at a whopping 120 proof (60% ABV), accentuating the base whiskey’s smoked characteristics.

Tasting Notes
– Nose: All I am getting on this is mesquite.
– Palate: Salty, smoky, sweet, oily, like chewing on mesquite. A little touch of caramel, vanilla, and raspberry!

Desert Dessert

“Desert Dessert” also starts life as a mesquite-smoked-barley malt, but a portion spends additional maturation time in ex-fill Sauternes casks and another in Pineau des Charentes casks, providing extra sweetness and richness. It’s bottled at 113.8 proof (56.9% ABV).

Tasting Notes
– Nose: Notes of sweet red wine, subtle notes of vanilla, cacao, coffee, and mesquite.
– Palate: Chocolate-covered cherries, soft mesquite smoke, and a touch of salinity, followed by toasted sourdough bread

***An essential bit of housekeeping: I received these samples compliments of Lost Lantern and their PR agency in exchange for my honest feedback and review. While life might be easier if I were on the take like a dirty cop (I’m not), all of my reviews are honest. WWG and I both have a strict policy about honest reviews (good or bad), so receiving media samples will NEVER affect the outcome. That said, I need a drink…