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The Top Ten American Single Malts You Need To Try

TOP 10 American Single Malts

Mention American Whiskey to most people, and it’s completely expected that Bourbon, Rye or Tennessee Whiskey is what will spring to mind, and to be honest, you can’t blame them for that. Single malt whisky has traditionally been considered by the masses to be coming from Scotland, but of course, we know there’s single malt whisky coming from all over the world – Ireland, Japan, India, Taiwan, Australia, even Canada. But the States? Surely not.

Well, it looks like that’s something that’s about to change.

An American Revolution

That’s right, the Americans have seen the light with more and more distilleries popping up Stateside either producing or planning to produce single malt whisky (OK OK… whiskey). While the US government hasn’t yet set in place any legal requirements as to what an American Single Malt needs to be, these rules aren’t looking to be far off, and a newly formed body, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, is doing what it can to establish, promote and protect the category of American Single Malt Whiskey.

Their formula is pretty simple (and predictable). American Single Malt Whiskey must be:
• Made from 100% Malted Barley
• Distilled entirely at one distillery
• Mashed, distilled and matured in the USA
• Matured in Oak Casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres
• Distilled to no more than 160 (U.S.) Proof (80% ABV)
• Bottled at 80 (U.S.) Proof (40% ABV) or more

We’ve included a full list of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission’s Member Producers at the bottom of this post, and as you can see, there’s a huge number of members. 139 at the time of writing in fact. While this number seems huge, remember there are over 2000 distilleries in the USA. By comparison, there’s only 128 licensed whisky distilleries in Scotland (as at 2018, according to the Scotch Whisky Association), and Australia’s punching well above its weight too, with over 120 distilleries producing whisky today. So, American Single Malt Whiskey is looking like it’s going to be a big thing.

So what are they doing differently?

With the wide range of alcohol being produced in America, and without the constraints of traditions of a centuries old industry, the Americans have been known to dabble with a bit of experimentation in production and maturation methods. While most follow the traditional Scotch recipe of double copper pot still distillation followed by oak (everything from virgin oak, through wine casks and even Japanese style plum liqueur casks), a few of them, notably Westward and Westlands, have taken inspiration from their bourbon and craft beer relatives to introduce the concept of a mash-bill, (100% malted barley of course!). Using various craft beer recipes, yeasts and malts (chocolate malt, pale ale, stout etc) they create extremely high quality, interesting and flavourful spirit, ready for resting in oak.

Sounds interesting, right? So, if you’re ready to delve into the world of American Single Malt, that’s awesome. Only trouble is, here in Australia, it’s still a little hard to get hold of. But to whet your appetite, here’s a list of nine American single malt whiskies you should try to get your hands on, plus one you definitely can this month, from the Club.

 

10. Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky Sherry Cask (Denver, CO)

A volunteer fireman saving a burning barn ended in the formation of a partnership that’s now been making Single Malt in Denver, Colorado for over 10 years. Stranahan’s use melted Rocky Mountain snow and locally grown barley. Their Sherry Cask Whiskey is matured for four years in new American Oak barrels, then finished in Oloroso Sherry barrels.

 

9. Baller Single Malt Whiskey (Alameda, CA)

Nothing to do with basketball players, Baller is “a California take on the Japanese spin on Scotch whisky”. Created with Japanese style whisky highballs in mind, this is where the name and the inspiration for the label artwork came from, depicting the legend of St George as a samurai. Aged in ex-Bourbon and French Oak wine casks, it’s filtered through maple charcoal and then finished in umeshu casks (a Japanese style plum liqueur they produce with locally grown ume fruit). Baller is produced by St. George Spirits, who’ve been producing various spirits since 1982.

 

8. Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey (Seattle, WA)

Made from 100% malted barley and double distilled, Copperworks‘ style should be familiar to most. Matured in new American Oak casks that have been given a long toast and #1 char, the distillery is also maturing spirit in sherry and French Oak casks for future release. Keep an eye out for these!

 

7. Colkegan (Santa Fe, NM)

This is a whiskey that brazenly states “it wouldn’t want to be called a Scotch even if it could be” on its website. Them’s fighting words! Santa Fe Spirits’ Colkegan Single Malt was one of the first to use mesquite (a legume found in southwestern United States and Mexico) to smoke the barley. Made from a blend of 30% mesquite and 70% unsmoked barley, the whisky is also interestingly matured at high altitude (7000ft) in a climate-controlled warehouse that ranges the temperatures from freezing cold to swelteringly hot, along with a massive swing in humidity from dry to damp. The climatic changes in the warehouse work the spirit through the casks and add to the complexity of the finished whiskey.

 

6. Westland Peated American Single Malt Whiskey (Seattle, WA)

While many American distilleries are smoking their barley with alternative heat sources, Westland Peated mixes good old-fashioned peated barley with five non-peated barleys, including Pale Chocolate Malt, Washington Select Pale Malt and Munich Malt. Matured in new American Oak and first fill ex-Bourbon casks, while it may not be a massive peat monster, it’s sure to be delicious.

 

5. Stryker Smoked Single Malt (Blanco, TX)

Andalusia Whiskey Co’s Revenant is another peated American Single Malt, whereas their Stryker remains true to its home and is smoked with the delicious combination of oak, mesquite and apple wood. Fire up the barbie, this one’s a Texas style BBQ in a bottle.

 

4. Balcones Texas Single Malt Whiskey (Waco, TX)

Perhaps better known for their blue corn whiskey, Balcones also produce a single malt using the first Texas-grown malted barley. The hot summers and massive temperature swings of Texas certainly present challenges when it comes to maturing whiskey, but like we so often do in Australia, the team use barrels of various sizes to mature their spirit, which are plucked when ready and married together in a larger barrel to finish maturation.

 

3. Del Bac Dorado Mesquite Smoked Single Malt Whiskey (Tucson, AZ)

Another smoky offering, but again there’s no peat here. Del Bac is another to use mesquite to smoke the barley they use in Dorado, in true American Southwestern style. This results in a spicy taste that goes well with BBQ, or even better with tacos.

 

2. Corsair Triple Smoke (Nashville, TN)

One of the big differences we’ve learned so far between American and Scotch Single Malt is that they like to smoke their barley with stuff that’s not peat. The Corsair Triple Smoke’s barley is a combination of peat, cherry wood, and beechwood, the result a deeply complex whiskey. Triple Smoke is regarded as their defining whiskey, the team describing their range of whiskey as “hand crafted small batch ultra premium booze for badasses”.

 

1. Westward Oregon Pinot Noir Cask American Single Malt Whiskey created exclusively for The Whisky Club (Portland, OR)

Westward Whiskey produce all their whiskey from scratch. To that end, they’re actually Portland’s largest brewer (that’s saying something!) and they don’t even make beer. Lead distiller Miles Munroe weaved pure magic to create this unrepeatable Limited Edition for the Club. It’s absolutely bursting with sweet dried figs, ripe plums, brown sugar and fragrant pipe tobacco on the nose before rolling into creamy grain, fresh melon and raisin on the palate, and finishing decadently with English toffee, leather and a touch of white pepper.

Made from scratch using two-row Pacific Northwest barley fermented with ale yeast, double pot distilled and matured in #2 char new oak casks before finishing in ex-Oregon Pinot Noir wine casks; Westward Oregon Pinot Noir Cask American Single Malt Whiskey, Created Exclusively for The Whisky Club is about to become your fav new whiskey too.

Join Australia’s biggest community of whisky lovers Free Now to get your hands on a bottle while stocks last, and if you’re already a Member, be sure to tell your friends!

 

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American Single Malt Whiskey Commission’s Member Producers

1. 10th STREET DISTILLERY, San Jose, CA
2. ADMIRALTY DISTILLERY, Port Townsend, WA
3. ALLTECH BREWING & DISTILLING, Lexington, KY
4. AMALGA DISTILLERY, Juneau, AK
5. ANDALUSIA WHISKEY CO, Blanco, TX
6. APOTHECARY BEVERAGE CO, Asheville, NC
7. ARIZONA CRAFT BEVERAGE, Elgin, AZ
8. ATELIER VIE, New Orleans, LA
9. BALCONES DISTILLING, Waco, TX
10. BEAR CREEK DISTILLERY, Denver, CO
11. BENDISTILLERY, Bend, OR
12. BENTLY HERITAGE, Minden, NV
13. BIG BOTTOM DISTILLING, LLC, Hillsboro, OR
14. BLACK BUTTON DISTILLING, Rochester, NY
15. BLACK HERON SPIRITS, West Richland, WA
16. BLAUM BROS. DISTILLING CO., Galena, IL
17. BLINKING OWL DISTILLERY, Santa Ana, CA
18. BLUE RIDGE DISTILLING, Bostic, NC
19. BOGUE SOUND DISTILLERY, Newport, NC
20. BOOT HILL DISTILLERY, Dodge City, KS
21. BOSTON HARBOR DISTILLERY, Boston, MA
22. BOZEMAN SPIRITS DISTILLERY, Bozeman, MT
23. BRECKENRIDGE DISTILLERY, Breckenridge, CO
24. BREUCKELEN DISTILLING, Brooklyn, NY
25. BRICKWAY BREWERY & DISTILLERY, Omaha, NE
26. BULL RUN DISTILLERY, Portland, OR
27. CAISEAL BEER & SPIRITS CO., Hampton, VA
28. CEDAR RIDGE DISTILLERY, Swisher, IA
29. CLEVELAND WHISKEY, Cleveland, OH
30. CLEAR CREEK DISTILLERY, Hood River, OR
31. COPPER FOX DISTILLERY, Sperryville, VA
32. COPPERWORKS DISTILLING CO, Seattle, WA
33. CORSAIR DISTILLERY, Nashville, TN
34. COTHERMAN DISTILLING CO, Dunedin, FL
35. CROWDED BARREL WHISKEY CO, Austin, TX
36. DARK ISLAND SPIRITS, Alexandria Bay, NY
37. DEAF SHEPHERD DISTILLING CO, San Diego, CA
38. DEERHAMMER DISTILLING CO, Buena Vista, CO
39. THE DAMPFWERK DISTILLERY, St. Louis Park, MO
40. DISTILLERY 291, Colorado Springs, CO
41. DO GOOD DISTILLERY, Modesto, CA
42. DOGFISH HEAD DISTILLERY, Milton, DE
43. FAINTING GOAT SPIRITS, Greensboro, NC
44. FEW SPIRITS, Evanston, IL
45. FINGER LAKES DISTILLING, Burdett, NY
46. FIRESTONE&ROBERTSON DISTILLING, Fort Worth, TX
47. FRENCH DISTILLERS & ALCHEMISTS, Lisle, NY
48. GOLDEN MOON DISTILLERY, Golden, CO
49. GRAND TETON DISTILLERY, Golden, CO
50. GRATON DISTILLING COMPANY, Driggs, ID
51. GREAT WAGON ROAD DISTILLING CO, Charlotte, NC
52. HAMILTON DISTILLERS, Tucson, AZ
53. HATCH DISTILLERY, Egg Harbor, WI
54. HEADFRAME SPIRITS, Butte, MT
55. HOLLERHORN DISTILLING, Naples, NY
56. HIGH PEAKS DISTILLING, Lake George, NY
57. HIGHSIDE DISTILLING, Bainbridge Island, WA
58. HOOD RIVER DISTILLERS, Hood River, OR
59. HOTEL TANGO DISTILLERY, Indianapolis, IN
60. HUDSON VALLEY DISTILLERS, Germantown, NY
61. ISLAND LIFE DISTILLING, Chelan, WA
62. JERSEY SPIRITS DISTILLING CO, Fairfield, NJ
63. JOHN EMERALD DISTILLING CO, Opelika, AL
64. KINGS COUNTY DISTILLERY, Brooklyn, NY
65. LAWS WHISKEY HOUSE, Denver, CO
66. LIBERTY CALL SPIRITS, San Diego, CA
67. LIBERTY POLE SPIRITS, Washington, PA
68. LIQUID BRANDS DISTILLERY, Spokane, WA
69. LOCH & UNION DISTILLING, American Canyon, CA
70. LONG ISLAND SPIRITS, Baiting Hollow, NY
71. LIQUID RIOT, Portland, ME
72. LOS ANGELES DISTILLERY, Culver City, CA
73. LOST LANTERN WHISKEY, Middlebury, VT
74. MAD RIVER DISTILLERS, Warren, VT
75. MAUI BREWING COMPANY, Kihei, HI
76. MB ROLAND, Pembroke, KY
77. McMENAMINS EDGEFIELD, Troutdale, OR
78. MILLSTONE SPIRITS, Philadelphia, PA
79. MODISETT & SONS DISTILLERY, Austin, TX
80. NEW HOLLAND SPIRITS, Holland, MI
81. NOCO DISTILLERY, Fort Collins, CO
82. OAK & GRIST DISTILLING CO., Black Mountain, NC
83. OLD LINE SPIRITS, Baltimore, MD
84. OLD ROUTE TWO SPIRITS, Barre, VT
85. OLD TRESTLE DISTILLERY, Truckee, CA
86. ONE EIGHT DISTILLING, Washington, DC
87. ORANGE COUNTY DISTILLERY, Goshen, NY
88. ORCAS ISLAND DISTILLERY, Orcas, WA
89. PAINTED STAVE DISTILLERY, Smyrna, DE
90. PEACH STREET DISTILLERS, Palisade, CO
91. PINE BLUFFS DISTILLING, Pine Bluffs, WY
92. POSTMODERN DISTILLING, Knoxville, TN
93. PRESERVATION DISTILLERY, Bardstown, KY
94. QUINCY STREET DISTILLERY, Riverside, IL
95. ROCK TOWN DISTILLERY, Little Rock, AR
96. ROGUE ALES AND SPIRITS, Portland, OR
97. ROUTT DISTILLERY, Steamboat Springs, CO
98. SAN DIEGO DISTILLERY, San Diego, CA
99. SAN TAN BREWING-DISTILLING, Chandler, AZ
100. SAND CREEK DISTILLERY, Hugo, CO
101. SANTA FE SPIRITS, Santa Fe, NM
102. SEVEN CAVES SPIRITS, San Diego, CA
103. SNITCHING DISTILLERY, Fairplay, CO
104. SOLAR SPIRITS, Richland, WA
105. SONOMA COUNTY DISTILLING, Rohnert Park, CA
106. SPIRIT OF TEXAS, Pflugerville, TX
107. SPIRITS OF SALT LICK, West Baden, IN
108. SPIRITS OF ST LOUIS DISTILLERY, St Louis, MO
109. STARK SPIRITS DISTILLERY, Pasadena, CA
110. STARLIGHT DISTILLERY, Starlight, IN
111. STILLWATER SPIRITS/MOYLAN’S, Petaluma, CA
112. STORYHOUSE SPIRITS, San Diego, CA
113. STOUTRIDGE DISTILLERY, Marlboro, NY
114. STRANAHAN’S, Denver, CO
115. STORM KING DISTILLING CO., Montrose, CO
116. STUMPY’S SPIRITS CO., Columbia, IL
117. SUGAR HOUSE DISTILLERY, Salt Lake City, UT
118. SUGAR RIVER DISTILLERY, New Glarus, WI
119. SWEETGRASS DISTILLERY, Portland, ME
120. THORNTON DISTILLING, Thornton, IL
121. TOM’S FOOLERY DISTILLERY, Chagrin Falls, OH
122. TRIPLE EIGHT DISTILLERY, Nantucket, MA
123. TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS, Gardiner, NY
124. UP NORTH DISTILLERY, Post Falls, ID
125. VAN BRUNT STILLHOUSE, Brooklyn, NY
126. VAPOR DISTILLERY, Boulder, CO
127. VAYA CON DIOS DISTILLERY, Benicia, CA
128. VIRGINIA DISTILLERY COMPANY, Lovingston, VA
129. WANDERBACK WHISKEY, Hood River, OR
130. WARFIELD DISTILLERY, Ketchum, ID
131. WEST FORK WHISKEY CO, Indianapolis, IN
132. WESTLAND DISTILLERY, Seattle, WA
133. WESTWARD DISTILLERY, Portland, OR
134. WHISKEY ACRES DISTILLING CO, DeKalb, IL
135. WIGGLY BRIDGE DISTILLERY, York, ME
136. WITHERSPOON DISTILLERY, Lewisville, TX
137. WOOD’S HIGH MOUNTAIN DISTILLERY, Salida, CO
138. XO ALAMBIC, Dayton, WA
139. YELLOW ROSE DISTILLING, Houston, TX

 

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