Best American Single Malt Whiskey
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Best American Single Malt Whiskey

 

The Fifty Best American Single Malt Whiskey Tasting of 2018

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 20 American malt whiskies with a panel of 16 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The malt whiskies were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Each of the malt whiskies were evaluated and scored separately. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate. Judges were provided with eye droppers for the option of adding water.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The distilleries, states of origin and ABV are identified for each brand.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Sons of Liberty Uprising
New England Single Malt Whiskey

Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. (Rhode Island)
Distilled from stout mash.
Aged minimum 16 months.92° proof

Nose: Toffee, caramel, dark chocolate, toasted sugar, vanilla, citrus, orange, orange zest, dried apples and pears, rich cereal grains, malty, almonds, nutty, floral, black tea, sweet mint, spearmint, cinnamon, iodine, oak.
Palate: See’s Candies (mint, chocolate, toffee), salty caramel, sweet cream butter, chocolate, vanilla bean, honey, orange peel, almond, sweet nut, roasted nuts, cloves, mint, cinnamon, spice, aromatic cedar, oaky, deep dark wood, smooth, easy sipping.
Finish: See’s Candies (mint, chocolate, toffee, nuts), caramel, butter rum lifesaver, bitter almond, nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaves, spice, pepper, salty, menthol, pinecones, wood-forward, oak wood, smooth, approachable, great finish.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Sons of Liberty Uprising New England Single Malt Whiskey



KyMar Farm Distillery Malt Whiskey
KyMar Farm Distillery (New York)
100% malted barley, grown & malted in N.Y.
Aged 6 months. 80° proof

Nose: Peach, pear, plum, guava, sour cherry, currant, grape, orange, lemon verbena, citrus, red apple skins, crystalized honey, cream, Sauternes mixed with apples, light sweet tea, sweet mint, wet grass, hay, rye, oak.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, cream, honey, plum, gooseberry, sour cherry, orange, lemon, citrus, apple peel, grapes, floral, iced tea, clove, light subtle spice, pepitas, malty, new wood, oaky, clean, balanced, complex.
Finish: Honey, golden honey, gooseberry, apple must, bitter orange pith, sweet mild tea, clover, cinnamon, anise, malty, very smooth, delightful.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   KyMar Farm Distillery Malt Whiskey



Door County Distillery Single Malt Whisky
Door County Distillery (Wisconsin)
100% barley mash. 80° proof

Nose: Caramel, chocolate, chocolate malt balls, molasses, honey, rock candy, cinnamon sugar, maple, orange, blueberries, dried fruit, violets, clove, cinnamon, pepper, mulling spice, fresh-roasted coffee, smoky, wood, oak, aromatic cedar.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, honey, Christmas cake, dried fruit, raisins, black cherry, blueberry, lemon, citrus, orange pith, malty, wheat, straw, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, smoky, aromatic wood, woody, oak, well-balanced wood sweetness, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, toasted almond latte, berry, lemon, anise, mint, sandalwood, bay leaf, nutmeg, clove, rum, salt, wood, pine, oak, cedar, smooth.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Door County Distillery Single Malt Whisky



Spirit Hound Straight Malt Whisky
Single Barrel
Distilled From Malt Mash

Spirit Hound Distillers (Colorado)
Malted barley grown and malted in Colorado.
Aged 2 yrs. 90° proof

Nose: Toffee, dark chocolate, hot chocolate, creamy, vanilla, cane sugar, honey, apricots, peaches, lemon, lemon zest, orange peel, ginger, sweet roasted corn, floral, peppery, bourbon, light oak, light cedar chest.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, creamy caramel brittle with pecans, cream, vanilla, honey, mocha, tropical fruit, orange, lemon, citrus, balanced wintergreen, spice, clove, rum-like, funk, slight smoky, Ponderosa pine, dry wood, oak.
Finish: Vanilla, honey, honeycomb, pineapple, spicy fruit, grain, cinnamon, stone, iodine, oak, wood, well-balanced, nice, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Spirit Hound Straight Malt Whisky



Alpine Traveler's Rest
American Single Malt Whiskey

Alpine Distilling (Utah)
100% barley malt. 88° proof

Nose: Caramel, treacle, butter, vanilla, cherry, apple, papaya, white grape, citrus, orange, orange peel, fruit stripe gum, cinnamon, spices, sherry, oak, wood.
Palate: Caramel, buttery, vanilla, honey, dark fruit, pear, banana, exceptional dried fruit, sherry, wheat, barley, grain, nutmeg, clove, white pepper, spicy, sour mash, woody, soft.
Finish: Orange, mild citrus, berries, vanilla, almonds, grain, red pepper, spicy, woody, oak, soft, warm, easy, classic.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Alpine Traveler's Rest American Single Malt Whiskey



Balcones "1" Texas Single Malt Whisky
Classic Edition

Balcones Distilling (Texas)
Golden Promise barley from Scotland.
Non-chill filtered.
Aged minimum 16 months. 106° proof

Nose: Treacle, salty caramel, creamy, cocoa, molasses, maple, sweet vanilla, honey, pastry, raisins, black cherry, honeysuckle, floral, fall leaves, mocha, coffee, cinnamon, clove, malty, bourbon barrel, wow.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, chocolate, honey, cherry, orange peel, citrus, tea, wheat, barley, malty, rye, pepper, spicy, briny, oaky, bourbon, smooth, powerful.
Finish: Dark brown sugar, Baker’s chocolate, honey, berry, floral, mint, anise, cinnamon, clove, spice, peppery, cereal, oak.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey
Rogue Spirits (Oregon)
100% Risk barley malt from Rogue Farms, Oregon.
Aged minimum 2 yrs. 80° proof

Nose: Caramel, creamy, maple, honey, black cherry, blackberry, orange peel, figs, raisins, dried fruit, orange blossom, heather, toasted nuts, smooth pecan, coffee, clove, cinnamon, spicy, licorice, ginger, sherry, cognac, well-behaved sweetness, oak, woody.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, butter, creamy, honey, maple, vanilla, apple, pear, orange, dates, dark raisins, dry corn, grain, toast, walnut, summer flowers, cinnamon, spicy, peppery.
Finish: Cherry, orange peel, creamy, grain, allspice, spicy, oak, smoky, smooth, builds gradually, an authentic "American Speyside".

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Rogue Oregon Single Malt Whiskey



John Henry Single Malt Whiskey
Harvest Spirits (New York)
Double distilled from two-row malted barley,
rested in new oak, then aged in Applejack barrels
for 2 years 8 months. 84° proof

Nose: Butterscotch, light caramel, honey, cherry, apple, banana, citrus, orange, mild corn, sweet corn, sweet grain, golden light malt, very light cherry pits, mint, fennel, spice, little peaty, stone, wood, cedar, oak.
Palate: Caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, honey, candied ginger, ginger pie, ginger, dark berry, orange peel, dried fruit, grain, malty, bitter neem leaf, wintergreen, cinnamon, spicy, black pepper, tropical wood, cedar chest, oak, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, Baker’s chocolate, coffee, clove, ginger, spicy, peppery kick, aromatic bitters, fenugreek, neem leaf, iodine, soft, smooth, pleasant.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



John Henry Single Malt Whiskey



Spirit of Texas Single Malt Whiskey
Spirit of Texas Distillery (Texas)
100% malted barley. 92° proof

Nose: Toffee, caramel, clotted cream, creamsicle, stroop syrup, honey, pound cake, tropical fruit, banana, raspberry, floral, jasmine, maple, sweet cinnamon, hint of rye, oak.
Palate: Caramel, vanilla, honey, artisanal chocolate, dark chocolate, dark chocolate covered apples, candied orange, pineapple, banana, dark raisins, sweet red bell pepper, spicy grass, cinnamon, cumin seed, pepper, spicy, woody, fresh-sawn wood, cedar, super-creamy mouthfeel.
Finish: Tropical fruit, dried raisins, grain, bay leaf, anise, mint, cinnamon, spice, pepper, woody, clean, power up front, very smooth, nice fade.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Spirit of Texas Single Malt Whiskey



Breckenridge Dark Arts Whiskey
Breckenridge Distillery (Colorado)
Distilled from malt mash. 92° proof

Nose: Caramel, sweet cream, gingered honey crystals, honey, black cherry, tart green apples, hot toddy, honeysuckle, lavender, rose, floral, rye, wheat, poppy seeds, dried leaves, spice, dusty, cherry wood, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, honey, orange peel, ginger, coffee, poppy seeds, rye, wheat, mint tea, green forest, port wine, musty, low peat, faint barbecue smoke, dry wood, oak, birch, cedar.
Finish: Treacle, raisin, honey, ginger, herbal, tea, tea tree oil, grain, malt, spicy coffee, pepper, woody, balanced, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Breckenridge Dark Arts Whiskey



Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey
Rogue Spirits (Oregon)
2 Row, Maier Munich & C15 malts.
Aged minimum 2 yrs. 80° proof

Nose: Peach, sweet peach tea, apricot, mango, guava, pineapple, passion fruit, melon, apples, citrus, quince paste, sour orange, blackcurrant, bubblegum, honeysuckle, honey, grass, oolong, butter.
Palate: Butterscotch, taffy, creamy, vanilla, candied grapefruit, grapefruit, kumquat, pineapple, peach, passion fruit, berry, grape, jammy, pamplemousse liqueur, rose, floral, spearmint, cinnamon, corn, birch, oak, funky, unique.
Finish: Passion fruit, peach, stone fruit, pomegranate, raspberry, blackcurrant, strawberry tequila cream, toasted cream, honey, floral, almond, spicy, wine, port wine, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey



Sons of Liberty Battle Cry
New England Single Malt Whiskey

Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. (Rhode Island)
Distilled from a Belgian ale inspired mash.
Aged minimum 16 months. 92° proof

Nose: Toffee, caramel, dark chocolate, Baker’s chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, maple, mocha, coffee, toast, malt, green apple, olive, cherry pits, nutty, pepper, musty, earthy, smoke, oak.
Palate: Caramel, dark chocolate, cocoa, sweet dark sugar, orange blossom honey, vanilla, dark fruits, plum, plummy, apple, citrus, ginger, wintergreen, cinnamon, spicy, pepper, coffee, nutty butter, cereal, peaty, woody, cedar, oak, maple, deep oils, briny, smooth.
Finish: Café au lait, pear, apple, bitter lemon, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, spicy, leather, tannic, oaky, well-balanced, nice burn, light, easy.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Sons of Liberty Battle Cry New England Single Malt Whiskey



Old Line American Single Malt American Whiskey
Cask strength

Old Line Spirits (Maryland)
100% malted barley. Aged minimum 1 yr. 120° proof

Nose: Toffee, milk chocolate, chocolate, sweet dark sugar, vanilla, maple, honey, dried fruit, corn, coffee biscuit, cracked wheat, roasted nuts, cinnamon, tannic, smoky, oak.
Palate: Caramel, salted caramel, chocolate, dark cocoa with a dash of cream, hot pudding, hot raisins, Red Hots candy, cinnamon, deep spice, tea, wheat, woody, oak, opens up your senses.
Finish: Caramel, honey, citrus, raisins, toasted cinnamon, spicy, malt, nutty, oak, aromatic, big, flavorful, approachable.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Old Line American Single Malt American Whiskey



Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey
Double Barrel

Proof Artisan Distillers (North Dakota)
100% malted barley. Aged 16 months. 94° proof

Nose: Caramel, dark chocolate, tropical fruit, raisins, floral, black tea, mint, anise, cloves, cinnamon, spicy, peppery, old leather, meaty, iodine, maritime, briny, peaty cave, misty woods, smoke, wood, pinewood.
Palate: Toffee, honey, spicy fruit, citrus, orange zest, ginger, almond, rye, anise, coriander, cinnamon, spice, pepper, oily dusty residue, notes of wormwood, briny, smoky, forward oak, woody, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, sweet cream soda, vanilla, dried fruits, malt, citrus, ginger, rose, bay leaf, clove, spice, pepper, tannic, big crescendo power.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey



Virginia-Highland Whisky
Port Cask Finished Whisky

Virginia Distillery Company (Virginia)
Whisky from Scotland married with Virginia whisky distilled from 100% malt mash. Aged minimum 1 yr. 92° proof

Nose: Toffee, caramel, milk chocolate, bitter chocolate, orange truffle, apple syrup, green apple, apples, pears, a bit of lemon peel, dark raisins, dried fruits, corn, chai tea, light floral, faint rose, cut grass, mint, light musk, peat, wood, delicate.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, vanilla, candied citrus, candied ginger, cherry, green apple, pear, orange, citrus, dark raisins, perfume, sweet sherry, dark wine, coffee, nutty, cinnamon, spice, pepper, spicy pepper, balanced barley, peaty, maritime, salty, briny, char, wood chips, wood, oak.
Finish: Burnt sugar, plum, berry, green apple, bosc pear, orange blossom, flowers, nutmeg, spicy, peppery, salty, peat, smooth, delicious.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Virginia-Highland Whisky Port Cask Finished Whisky



Alley 6 Single Malt Whiskey
Alley 6 Craft Distillery (California)
100% malted barley. Aged minimum 9 months. 86° proof

Nose: Caramel, buttery, candy corn, honey, sorghum, pear, banana, lemon, persimmons, dried apricots, rose hips, hibiscus, herbal, sweet tea, almond, nuts, licorice, sherry cask, peaty, mossy.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, creamy, white chocolate, burnt sugar, honey, toasted fruit, cherry, banana, citrus oil, dried rose petals, sweet tea, spicy, woody, smooth.
Finish: White chocolate, creamy, raisins, prunes, dates, figs, dried rose petals, cinnamon, clove, light coffee, iodine, char, woody, oak, easy warm sweater hug, great—best in show.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Alley 6 Single Malt Whiskey



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Missouri Ridge Distillery
American Single Malt Whiskey

Missouri Ridge Distillery (Missouri)
90° proof

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, candy corn, buttery, old caramel, Baker’s chocolate, molasses, apple, apple juice, orange juice, melon, banana, plantain, corn, raisins, grassy, pickles, spicy, earth, maple wood, white oak.
Palate: Toffee, milk chocolate, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, clover honey, bee’s wax, jalapeno jelly, berries, citrus, raisins, oily sweet corn, mashed barley, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (like mulled cider), spice, pepper, sour wood, touch of smokiness, autumn in a glass.
Finish: Treacle, honey, banana, slight grape, ginger, straw, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, dessert wine, char, cedar, oak, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Missouri Ridge Distillery American Single Malt Whiskey



Red Bordner's South Carolina
Single Barrel Malt Whiskey

Red Bordner Distillery (South Carolina)
80° proof

Nose: Milk chocolate, light dry cocoa powder, candied tart pink lady apples, maraschino cherries, cherry, orange peel, guava, banana, plantain, nuts, malty, iodine, funky, musty, earthy, char, old wood, oak.
Palate: Toffee, Baker’s chocolate, bitter chocolate, burnt sugar, caramel apple, lots of orange, banana, dark dried fruits, creamy sweet corn and rye, old malt, cumin seeds, dry wood, woody, oaky, easy drinking.
Finish: Dark chocolate, stone fruit, honey, wintergreen, burnt cumin seeds, cedar, really nice orange, exceptionally smooth, easy finish.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



South Carolina Single Barrel Malt Whiskey



Wood's Tenderfoot American Malt Whiskey
Wood's High Mountain Distillery (Colorado)
77% Two-row (chocolate and cherry-wood smoked),
10% malted wheat and 13% malted rye.
Double distilled. Aged 18 months. 90° proof

Nose: Vanilla, sweet tea, orange zest, juniper, mint, scotch, rye, malt, straw, peaty with some maritime clove, old leather, old books, musty, salty, briny, char, new wood, pine, oak.
Palate: Dark chocolate, chocolate, malt balls, sweet dark sugar, clover honey, lemon, citrus peel, almond, grain, coffee, cinnamon, spicy, white pepper, smoked pepper, mineral, smooth peat, tannic, deep wood, light wood, big oak.
Finish: Toffee, Baker’s chocolate, café au lait, coffee, citrus, mint, spicy, peppery, wet stone, woodsy, balanced, covers the tongue, smooth, easy finish.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Wood's Tenderfoot American Malt Whiskey

 

 

 

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