What is always one of the hottest whiskies of the year has finally arrived: the Fall 2013 batch of Steve McCarthy's Oregon single malt whiskey -- a lovely spirit made from peated Scottish barley that is fermented at a nearby Portland brewery and distilled at Clear Creek distillery. It's aged three years in Oregon oak and always tastes much more precocious than the statement suggests. The only time this whiskey has ever caught me off guard was with the last batch. For some reason the peat never really showed up and the oak was unbelievably dominant. It tasted like rapidly-matured quarter-cask craft whiskey, rather than the bold, smoky malt I've known for years. Thank goodness the McCarthy's is back in form with this more recent release. This version of McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey $53.99 has a heavy dollop of new oak vanilla and spice, but it's totally balanced by the smoke and phenolic elements. It's everything you want it to be, and it's a reminder of how good American single malt can be when we're dedicated to doing it the right way (which is the longer, more time-consuming, less-lucrative way). This batch proves that Steve McCarthy isn't just one of the best whiskey distillers in the country, but he's simply one of the best distillers in the business. This, plus his unreal framboise eau-de-vie we featured last week, should little doubt of that.