As the Great Recession drew close, a spontaneous upsurge in small-scale distilling began. It was a movement that today shows no sign of slowing down.
It also spawned a generation of whiskey makers who challenge stubborn norms of what a craft distiller should look like or where they should come from. These pioneers are pushing American whiskey further into the future and helping it evolve into a more diverse spirit.
What is American Craft Whiskey?
Craft whiskey is a type of whiskey made by independent distillers. The best american craft whiskey uses traditional methods and local ingredients to produce a unique product that is often more complex than mass-produced whiskey.
It is distilled in small batches and then aged in oak barrels for a more extended period of time than other types of whiskey, such as rye or vodka. This aging process allows for a more complex flavor profile.
American Craft Whiskey is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, and it’s becoming more popular with consumers. The movement started in the mid-aughts and has grown to over 570 small distilleries across the country.
However, some distillers are frustrated with the lack of a clear definition of a “craft” distillery.
In any case, it’s important to remember that while some craft spirits are great, others are not. It’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide what they want in a whiskey and whether or not it is a good fit for them.
What is Straight Whiskey?
Straight whiskey is a type of American whisky that has been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years. During this time, the spirit oxidizes and penetrates the wood to extract the flavor compounds and caramelized sugars in it.
Unlike most other types of whiskey, straight bourbon whiskey cannot include additives or colorings. This is because straight whiskey has to meet a particular set of aging requirements, ensuring its flavor and characteristics are unmistakable.
The core of this requirement is that the distillate must be aged in new charred oak barrels, except for corn whiskey. This aging process allows the spirit to oxidize and penetrate the wood, which extracts most of its flavor.
While some craft distilleries avoid the term “craft,” others do so to distinguish their product from larger companies
What is Blended Whiskey?
Blended whiskey is a form of whisky made from a combination of different whiskies. It usually combines one or more high-quality straight or single malt whiskies with neutral grain spirits, coloring and flavorings.
It uses the same distilling and aging processes as single-malt whisky. But instead of using only malted barley, a blended whiskey may use corn, rye or wheat as its base.
There is a misconception that single malts are always better than blends, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! The fact is that both whiskies are great, and there are many great examples of each.
The key to finding the right blend for you is to find a master blender who understands your tastes and preferences. They will also be able to recommend you great whiskies that are perfect for you!
What is Rye Whiskey?
Rye whiskey is a type of American whisky that has been around for hundreds of years. It predates bourbon and regained popularity in the last few decades as millennials, and Gen Z discovered it.
To make rye, distillers first mill grains into a mashed mixture. The mash is then cooked, where the starches in the grains are turned into sugars. These sugars then get fed to yeast, which provides them and produces alcohol.
After the mash is finished cooking, it’s put into fermenting barrels for at least a week. It’s then transferred to a still, where it gets distilled.
During this process, heat helps to pull out any impurities in the wash that don’t belong. The heat also aids in the process of converting the alcohol into vapor, which is what goes into a bottle.
In the United States, rye whiskey must be made from a mash of at least 51% rye. The remaining percentage of the mash can include corn, wheat, malted barley and other grains.
What is Single Malt Whiskey?
Single Malt Whisky is a type of whiskey produced at a single distillery, typically from barley. Scotch whisky is the most famous, but there are other great single malts from Ireland, Japan and other countries worldwide.
Single-malt whiskies are often distinguished from blended whiskies by their strict production rules. In Scotland, a whisky can only be called a single-malt if it is distilled from only barley and aged in oak casks for at least three years.
Blended whiskies, on the other hand, are a mixture of barrels that may have previously held different spirits. Because they are made from different types of grain, these whiskies have a broad range of flavors, which is why they’re so popular.
However, because there are so many different whiskies in the market, it can take time to choose which is best for you. If you are new to whisky, it is recommended that you start with a single malt. It can be a little more expensive but will have a greater depth of flavor and complexity.