Doctor's Notes

Whiskey Basics Vol. 3: What is American Single Malt Whiskey?

May 21, 2023

If you're a whiskey lover, and you follow other whiskey blogs or forums, you have likely heard a lot of recent buzz about American Single Malt Whiskey. This, however, isn’t just another passing fad. American Single Malt is here to stay, and it will soon be showing up in full force at your local bottle shops. But what makes American Single Malt Whiskey stand out from other types of American whiskey? Let's take a closer look at the guidelines proposed by the organization leading the American Single Malt charge - the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission.

First and foremost, to be considered American Single Malt Whiskey, the whiskey must be made from 100% malted barley. This gives the whiskey its distinctive flavor profile, which is often described as having notes of honey, vanilla, and malted grain. The use of malted barley also gives the whiskey the smooth, creamy mouthfeel that is beloved by many fans of other single malts whiskeys, most notably Scotch and Irish Whisky. 

In addition to being made from 100% malted barley, American Single Malt Whiskey must be distilled at a single US distillery, mashed, distilled, and aged exclusively in the US, distilled no higher than 160 proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. And as with bourbon and rye, American Single Malt Whiskey must  be aged in oak casks (not exceeding 700 liters). However, both new and used barrels are permitted for primary aging, providing producers with more flexibility when deciding how to best mature their whiskey. 

If you're a whiskey lover looking for something new and exciting, be sure to give American Single Malt Whiskey a try!

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