Did you know Americans consume 1.14 liters of whiskey per person each year? While there are countries that consume more, craft distilleries across the country are revolutionizing how Americans perceive and consume this historical spirit.
A close examination of the current American craft spirit scene shows today’s liquor isn’t like your grandpap’s cough medicine. This fine whiskey will elevate any bar program.
Are you ready to join the exciting American whiskey revolution? Check out these five brands that are the vanguard for modern whiskey distilling.
1. Buffalo Trace
Any list of great American whiskeys would be incomplete without Buffalo Trace bourbon. The Buffalo Trace distillery is the oldest bourbon distillery in America, and their pioneering led to the current American whiskey craze.
Owned by the Sazerac Company, Buffalo Trace is a brand of affordable bourbon. Its quality, combined with its low price, makes it one of the most sought-after bottles in any liquor store. The distillery cannot produce it fast enough.
Whiskey vs. Bourbon
All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. A bourbon like Buffalo Trace must have a mash bill consisting of 51% corn. Bourbon must age in new, charred oak barrels and must distill at 160 proof.
To be bourbon, the spirit must bottle at no more than 125 and no less than 80 proof. Contrary to popular belief, bourbon doesn’t have to come from Kentucky (though a vast majority does).
What is whiskey, and how is it different? Whiskey is the generic term for a spirit distilled from grains like corn, wheat, barley, and rye. It’s then aged in wooden casks.
What Makes Buffalo Trace Unique?
There are many new, exciting whiskeys on the market, but what makes Buffalo Trace so great is its consistency. If you’re looking for a pure expression of classic Kentucky bourbon at an affordable price, this is the bottle. It’s perfect for bourbon cocktails like the old-fashioned or Manhattan and makes a pleasant sipper.
Buffalo Trace will always have a place at the front lines of American whiskey culture due to its unflinchingly classic style. Rather than research how to choose a whiskey, pick up a bottle of this crowd-pleaser.
2. Widow Jane
If you’re looking for a unique bottle outside of the classic Kentucky style, Widow Jane is a bottle to try. Widow Jane works out of Brooklyn, NY, and distills 105 miles away in Red Hook, NY.
Widow Jane sources its bourbon from Kentucky distilleries, but what makes it unique is the water they use. Widow Jane uses water from the famed Widow Jane mines in Rosendale, NY. This pure limestone water gives the bourbon a soft, clean flavor.
What Makes Widow Jane Unique?
It’s a Kentucky bourbon that only has its roots in Kentucky. Its single-barrel production combined with its New York finish provides any whiskey drinker with enough versatility and flavor to carry any cocktail.
Try it with a large rock and a splash of water to dilute the heat and accentuate the cherry, orange, and vanilla notes in the flavor profile.
3. Whiskey Del Bac Single Malt Dorado
This Tuscon, Arizona Single Malt continues its climb to provenance among America’s most unique whiskeys. The Distiller’s Cut garnered an 89 score in The Whiskey Advocate.
Though Tuscon isn’t a whiskey distilling hotbed, company founder Stephen Paul continues changing the notion of location. This whiskey is desert kissed, and its flavor profile will stand out during any whiskey tasting.
What Makes Whiskey Del Bac Single Malt Dorado Unique?
The origin story of the whiskey comes from Paul and his wife sipping scotch one evening. They both wondered if they could substitute mesquite for the peat used to malt the barley in traditional single malt scotch. The malting process for single malt finishes by drying the wet barley grain with hot air produced by a peat fire.
Peat produces a distinct, deep smoke flavor. Whiskey Del Bac substitutes peat with mesquite, a fragrant and sweet-burning wood. The mesquite produces a smokey, vanilla flavor unlike any other single-malt whiskey available.
Its sweet, barbeque-tinged finish makes it a perfect accompaniment for any summer gathering.
Master Sgt. Norm Hooten and Tim Young founded Hooten Young American Whiskey. The whiskey serves as a dedication to the men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives when duty calls.
Starting a whiskey company from scratch is no easy task, so they enlisted the help of Master Sommelier George Miliotes to help craft the correct flavor.
What Makes Hooten Young Unique?
The mash bill is 99% corn and 1% barley. The corn-heavy mash bill gives the whiskey a sweet, light flavor with loads of apple and stone fruit on the palate. Produced and distilled in Indiana, Hooten Young’s nimble flavors make it a partner for a fine cigar.
The fact that it pairs so well with cigars makes sense, as Hooten Young also manufactures a line of cigars meant to accompany their 12-year-old whiskey.
To learn more about Hooten Young and its origin story, check out https://www.hootenyoung.com/product/american-whiskey/.
5. Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey
Flavored liquor became the rage among American drinkers a few years ago, and if you work with spirits, you know how it came to dominate bar shelves overnight. Vodka of all flavors sprung up, soon followed by flavored whiskies. These flavored bottles, however, are made with artificial flavors and added sugar.
Not so with Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey. Distilled and bottled in Colorado, they use only the finest New York apples to blend with their traditional sour mash.
What Makes Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey Unique?
It’s all about the apples! Leopold Bros. uses several varietals of quality New York apples for the distillation process. Rather than producing a cloying, artificial flavor, the apples bring forth a flavor reminiscent of apple pie.
Try a bottle of this whiskey on a crisp autumn evening, neat, to keep the spicy rye finish.
Join the Whiskey Revolution
Craft distilleries across the country continue their experimentation and will continue to produce unique, great-tasting products. There’s never been a better time to be a spirits enthusiast than right now, though you may not have a taste for whiskey.
Not to worry. You can join the whiskey revolution by picking up any one of these bottles at your local liquor store!
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