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Why should bourbon and rye get to hog all the attention when a wide range of other intriguing American whiskeys is available to try?
Consider, for example, the growing tradition of American single malts. While the concept is inspired by single malt scotch, U.S. producers have found myriad ways to make it their own. Seattle’s Westland Distillery has been at the forefront, experimenting with local garryana oak barrels to establish Pacific Northwest terroir. Coming soon: a companion whiskey that spotlights new varieties of barley, as well as a bottling that plays up the effect of peat sourced from local peat bogs.
Chefs also are looking to American whiskey as a way to further their culinary footprints. An excellent example is the partnership between Oregon’s Rogue Ales & Spirits and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, culminating in another American single malt. This expands on prior beer collaborations between Rogue and the Iron Chef, starting with a blend of Morimoto imperial pilsner and Morimoto Black Obi ale, which is distilled and aged in an Oregon oak barrel that previously held Rolling Thunder imperial stout. (It’s a coincidence that this is another Pacific Northwest producer, but clearly the region is on to something, innovation-wise.) Of course, this isn’t the only chef-whiskey collab. Edward Lee’s Kentucky bourbon ventures and Daniel Boulud’s scotch partnership spring to mind, but this is a particularly interesting flavor-oriented endeavor.
Add to the mix wheat whiskey, Tennessee whiskey and blended American whiskey, and it’s clear there’s much more going on outside the categories of bourbon and rye. These are a dozen to try.
#4. Lost Lantern ($70-$120)
This is a collection of limited-edition single casks, starting with American Vatted Malt Edition No. 1 ($120), a 12-barrel blend of American single malts from six U.S. distilleries launched in October 2020. The model is inspired by Scotland and its tradition of independent distilleries. Also in the lineup: Cask #2 is a Cedar Ridge Iowa straight bourbon whiskey ($87, 213 bottles); Cask #3 is a straight rye from New York Distilling finished in an apple brandy cask ($70); and Cask #4 is Ironroot Republic Texas straight corn whiskey ($108, 111 bottles).