81938374 F6D6 4124 B697 6D470FAACDDF

SIP&Share Collective: American Whiskey

We were at our latest Sip & Share Session of the year, hosted by @ieecesim. The informal workshop that allows whisky novices and enthusiasts alike the ability to mix and mingle, while learning about and sipping on fine whiskies. Whiskies that might not be readily available to them, or be at a price point that they wish not to spend.

Tonight’s class was the 5th and last of the year, focusing on American Whiskies. As with all the former sessions, we would be trying our whiskies blind and scoring them based on characteristics such as scent, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. Then making a guess as to what it is we are tasting based on the line up of bottles presented.

Reece would give us a break down of each bottle with facts on its history and tasting notes we should be able to make out on the nose and palate. Then ending on the fun part, when it was revealed and see who made the best educated guesses and was the best at tasting their whiskey.

On the table today were 8 non-bourbon American whiskies, featuring different styles of whisky not as well known, and a heightened focus on ones that have yet to reach the height of their popularity. This included 4 different types of rye whisky, 1 Tennessee whisky, 2 Peated American single malts, and 1 blend of rye and bourbon.

Whereas Bourbon has to be 51% corn and can be made anywhere in the U.S., whiskey does not, and is simply classified as any grain-based distilled spirit made in the U.S. Not all American whisky needs to be in new oak. In order for it to be deemed American rye whisky it must have 51% rye in the mash bill and aged in brand new charred American oak barrels. The result is many bottles with vanilla, coffee and cocoa notes.

Tennesse whiskey is slightly different in that it must be made in Tennessee with a 51% corn mash bill that is aged in brand new charred American oak barrels. It follows the Lincoln County Process where they use charred wood to filter the whiskey. This mellows out its sharp edges and decreases its malt for a fattier and smooth mouthfeel, described as a sweeter honey-like finish. Uncle Neatest 1856 was the one to fit this bill. It has a long and interesting history tied to the slave trade, with the first African-American distiller behind its helm.

Up and coming whiskey styles includes American single malt and corn whiskey, but sadly we did not have enough time for the latter today. There are no single malt regulations in the U.S. As long as it is 100% malted barley it can be aged in new or used oak, or use sherry and/or brandy casts. The two examples today were Boulder, which was described as being the smokiest whiskey in the lineup; and Westland which could potentially come across as being floral due to it being smoked in peated oak.

Boulder hails from Boulder Colorado. It is an American whiskey done in a Scottish style single malt. Only 700-800 bottles are produced, so once it is gone, it is gone. Currently available in British Columbia, Alberta, and Colorado; as the owners have a good relationship with the distributors in Western Canada. Boulder sources its peat from the Scottish Highlands, using a single pot still they purchased and shipped from Scotland. They finish it off by adding in some 5 year old aged sherry to the mix. At $175 per bottle, this is one of the more premium whiskies we tried today, and the only time we would get to see this expression being released.

Westland hails from Seattle and has been around since 2010. Their focus is on advancing single malt whiskies in America, challenging what American whiskey really is, in the process. It is made with 100% malted barley, in 6 different malts like brown, chocolate and peated. Then aged in 5 different casts. They are well known in the industry for being creative in their expressions and playing with various roasting and drying techniques for their malts.

Reifel was the wild card of the bunch. Although this was an American whiskey session, this is a Canadian whisky made in Alberta, and released to the rest of Canada as of late October 2022. In Canada there is no minimum requirements for mash bill or aging and the result is Riefel being mixed with both bourbon and sherry for a spicier whisky with a lower ABV.

Blackened is an American whisky aged in brandy casks. It is partially owned by one of the members of Metallica and they play their music for their whiskey as they believe the low vibration of the sound helps to add more wood flavour into it. The result is a whiskey with floral, fruity, and caramel notes.

Sagamore Spirit Rye is based out of Maryland, named after the thoroughbred horse racing farm near their distillery. Their blend focuses on mixing 2 different types of rye together. We got peppery clove and garlic-like spice on the nose, with a candy dried orange peel, walnut and oak finish on the palate.

Sazerac is made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. They are known for their cocktails and have produced the perfect rye whiskey for their Sazerac cocktail, that is similar to an Old Fashion. This is a lighter whiskey with some spice, and plenty of sweetness from the corn used. It is great in a cocktail as the addition of water really opens it up. A homage to cocktails and the traditions of New Orleans.

Another fun and educational class done, and already looking forward to the next one.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top