The July 2012 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine included my review column on New American Whiskeys! (We defined “new,” by the way, as released within the last 2-3 years — a flexible definition that yielded a wide range of fascinating products.) The issue is currently on the newsstand, or you can view the digital format (subscribers only). Here’s what I learned:
1. All about “Alt Whiskey.” Remember that phrase – you’ll be hearing it again. This fast-growing group of passionate craft distillers are experimenting with unusual techniques and grains, resulting in some amazing whiskeys. They’re even inspiring larger outfits to respond with more innovation.
Darek Bell, owner of the Corsair Distillery in Nashville, TN, even recently published a how-to book called Alt Whiskeys, for DIY types who want to experiment by making “Cannabis Moonshine” or “Chamomile Wheat Whiskey.”
2. There’s an an uptick in American-made single malt whiskeys. And many are great. One of my favorites was St. George’s super-soft version.
3. Why is everyone releasing such hot whiskeys? So many were well above 40% abv, even above 50%. And with very few exceptions, many were just too damn hot. I’m learning that there’s a good reason that 40% abv is the standard.
4. I’m loving some of the more experimental whiskeys. For example, Corsair’s Scotch-like triple-smoked bourbon, or Charbay’s beer-spiked “hopped” whiskeys were among those that made me wonder, why didn’t anyone do this sooner?
If you have a favorite American whiskey (or favorite way to drink American whiskey? because I need some ideas!) please post a comment, I’d love to hear all about it.