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Seven Terrific American Single Malts to Try Now

Seven Terrific American Single Malts to Try Now

November 28, 2022 –––––– Julia Higgins, , , ,

What a year it’s been for American single malt whiskey! Over the summer, the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) released guidelines for the category, a decision that was years in the making. Following a 60-day required commentary period that concluded in late September, the guidelines are in line to be finalized; this is expected to happen before the end of the year. While recognition of the category and the emergence of formal guidelines didn’t change anything in the day-to-day for most distillers, it likely marks the start of a much broader understanding of what American single malt can be.

Now other distilleries are certainly lending credence to this newly minted category—look no further than Jack Daniel Distillery, which launched an American single malt of its own earlier this month. With that release alone, it seems safe to say that we can expect plenty more American single malt whiskey in the months and years to come.

For our Fall 2022 issue, we got a chance to taste and review a number of American single malts from all corners of the country. Some are from long-time players like Westland Distillery in Seattle and Alameda, California-based St. George Spirits, while others hail from newer brands, among them ASM Whiskey. Explore the highest scoring of those American single malts below.

Spend Time With One of These American Single Malts

manatawny-double-peated_600.jpgManatawny Double Peated (Batch 24) (Pennsylvania)
92 points, 47% ABV, $75
A rustic and smoky nose delivers dried herbs, cocoa powder, salted peanuts, citrus, and licorice. Where the nose draws you in, the palate keeps your attention with a creamy texture and notes of oyster brine, anise, candied orange, chocolate, and green olives. A lengthy finish completes the experience. Somewhat irregular in profile, with undeniable balance, nuance, and intrigue.—Ted Simmons

virginia-distillery-courage-conviction-cuvee-cask_600.jpgVirginia Distilling Co. Courage & Conviction Cuvée Single Cask (Cask 1266) (Virginia)
91 points, 59.2% ABV, $150
The nose is elegantly restrained at first, but soon gives off notes of fragrant wood, cooked dark berries, grape jelly, and baked apple pie. A richly spiced palate offers grape, blueberry pie, vanilla, and a hint of coconut. Water brings out new spice notes and red fruit, but this one is also tasty sipped neat. An impressive finish offers dark chocolate, sweet cooked turnips, and pepper spice.—David Fleming

bearfight-ams_600.jpgBear Fight (North Carolina)
90 points, 45% ABV, $60
Lime, cut grass, citrusy sweetness, lemon tart, and lemon drops create an unusual profile, perhaps due to the introduction of peat smoked oak into the finishing process. The palate is smooth, slightly candied but not overly sweet, with chile spice that doesn't go overboard, along with vanilla and more citrus. A smoky note veers to barrel char on the back palate and precedes a tasty finish—light, lemony, and well-textured.—David Fleming

Westland-Colere-edition-2-May-2022_600.jpgWestland Colere 2nd Edition (Washington)
90 points, 50% ABV, $150/700 ml
The nose is fruity with notes of candied pears, clementine, and watermelon, then nutty with aromas of marzipan, nougat, and pistachio. Water brings out Cocoa Krispies and fruit cocktail. A lush palate delivers more sweet and syrupy fruit accentuated by white pepper and peanut butter crackers. That sweetness continues through to the finish.—Ted Simmons

ASM-Sherry-Finish_600.jpgASM Whiskey Sherry Cask Finished (North Carolina)
89 points, 42% ABV, $65
Dry notes of woodpile and plain Cheerios tee up the nose. It presents earthy and musty notes, with a zing of lemon zest and torched orange peel. The palate is surprisingly gentle given the somewhat strong nose, with citrus, dark-roast espresso, and semi-sweet chocolate playing well together. This certainly makes for a compelling journey.—Julia Higgins

7_-St-George-Baller-Whiskey_600.jpgSt. George Spirits Baller (California)
89 points, 47% ABV, $50
Very tropical on the nose, with hints of mango, lychee, and pineapple, plus roasty notes of woodsmoke and chocolate. Crisp and dry on a palate of dried fruits—pineapple, orange peel, and melon. The mouthfeel is light and syrupy sweet. Lingering notes of woodsmoke keep things in check, but sweet flavors of lemon and lemon cake take the lead. Unusually sweet and fruity, but no less interesting for it.—David Fleming

whiskey-del-bac-frontera_600.jpgWhiskey Del Bac Frontera Spanish Sherry Cask Finished (Arizona)
88 points, 47.5% ABV, $90
Up front this presents a bouquet of peanut shells, pecan pie, and fruit snacks, all backed by waxy fruits and a slightly sharp hint of alcohol. The palate smooths out with blackberries, blueberries, and strawberry jam. Nestled beneath the fruitiness is dark chocolate, baking spices, and a dash of pepper. The finish has good length and a bit of soapiness.—Shane English