The resurgence of bourbon began in the late 00s and surged through Covid and into the 20s. Bourbon is at its all-time peak of popularity right now which is absolutely remarkable considering its condition around the turn of this past century. It’s been a most amazing turnaround!
Rye languished behind bourbon for years but a little outfit in Vermont known as WhistlePig almost singlehandedly revived the category and now rye is seeing a huge surge in popularity as distilleries around the country (see Woodford, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and many others) have hustled to add a rye (or two or more: Basil Hayden) to their portfolios! Rye is here to stay and the new 95-100% rye mash bills have replaced the old Kentucky style (which still had 20-30% corn) as the preferred flavor profile. It’s been all about the spice!
So that left American Single Malt, or malt whiskey, as the sleeper of American whiskies. Outfits like Stranahan’s in Colorado and Westland in Washington State have been able to gain at least a small foothold in the brown spirit world. But beyond them, the category could best be described simply as “sleepy.”
That is all changing. And changing at a pretty fast pace!
Recently Jack Daniels released their “Triple Mash” which featured a blend of Tennessee whiskey, Tennessee Rye and wait for it…. Malt whiskey! The remarkable thing is that JD kept it under wraps until this past year and this most unique distillery release ever! Very few people outside the distillery even knew they making malt whiskey and now there are plans for a 100% Jack Daniels American Malt. Love it!
Woodford has a malted whiskey and the aforementioned WhistlePig recently released a very special 21 year old release called “Beholden.” This incredible bottle is technically a “North American Malt” as the grain was sourced from Alberta, Canada. Still, quite a remarkable release and another sign that malt whiskey is finally getting a footprint!
If your looking for a change of pace from bourbon and rye, consider trying an American Malt. The rest of the world has always embraced this grain for their whiskey and now American palets are warming up to this unique, delicious, toasty and sweet change of pace spirit.