The Best New American Whiskeys To Try In 2016

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With the recent news that there is a shortage in the supply of single malt Scotch. The shortage will impact old and rare single malts and is anticipated to last between ten and fifteen years. In order to combat this, distilleries have begun quickly rolling out more bottles with no age labels. Whisky lovers who enjoy the rich, distinctive taste of whisky but don’t want to skimp on quality to avoid paying inflated prices do have an option: they can begin dipping into American whiskies. Bourbons, ryes and other American whiskies are the perfect replacement for Scotch.

There’s no denying the rise in popularity of American whiskey. But, why has interest in our native spirits increased so incredibly in the last few years? “The cocktail Renaissance not just in the US, but around the world, highly values the quality of ingredients, and the spirits they use are a big part of that,” says Distiller Co-Founder & CEO Mikael Mossberg

People are beginning to show interest in knowing where the things they consume come from and how exactly they are made. “That same desire for local craft with high quality ingredients has really helped to foster a burgeoning craft distilling movement here in the US,” says Mossberg.

The rise in popularity of American whisky isn’t really that new. Sales of American whiskies have been on a rapid increase since as far back as the late 90’s to the early 2000’s. “In past generations, people would stick to a single brand for their entire lives and never venture beyond that, but within the last fifteen or so years that sort of behavior has really gone by the wayside,” says Mossberg. “There is a cultural shift towards discovering and experiencing new foods, flavors, and spirits, and American whiskey definitely has quite a bit of variety to offer. Staunch brand loyalty has given way to loyalty towards quality, and in many respects, transparency in the production process.”

But, compared to Irish whiskey, Scotch and others, you might wonder where American Whiskey stands. “Very much shoulder to shoulder with Irish and Scotch,” says Mossberg. Bourbon is America’s calling card, but rye and single malt whiskeys are very highly regarded throughout the rest of the world. “Over the past few years American whiskey has made huge strides on the international stage and that, combined with the explosion of craft distilleries, has really solidified American whiskey as a force to be reckoned with.”

American whiskey has a strong foundation built in Kentucky bourbon.  “Large brands such as Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, and Four Roses are brands that consumers can buy with confidence and know that they are buying quality spirits.”  That said, Americans are also innovators in their own right. “Producers can experiment with wine barrels to finish their whiskey, or work with non-traditional grains to make unique products,” says Mossberg. “Buying local products is also something that restaurants and bars have been promoting heavily and that goes a long way towards supporting the blossoming of regional distilleries around the country.”

Mossberg has his own personal favorites but he’ll humbly admit he’s far from being qualified to decide which ones are the best. “Huge and small distilleries alike are creating really remarkable stuff.” He adds, “I’ll think I’ve found my new favorite and the next week have my mind blown again.” 

Here’s Distiller’s List of Best New American Whiskies:

Photos courtesy Distiller