Best American Single Malt Whiskey
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Best American Single Malt Whiskey

 

The Fifty Best American Single Malt Whiskey Tasting of 2019

 


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

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 highest. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin, distilleries and alcohol proofs are identified for each brand.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Balcones Peated Texas Single Malt Whisky
Classic Edition

Balcones Distilling (Texas)
Distilled from Highland-peated Golden Promise malted barley.
Aged at least 25 months in oak. 126° proof

Nose: Burnt toffee, caramel, brown sugar, maple, vanilla, honey, cooked honey, peach, deep orange, orange, melon, banana, raisins, prunes, dried fruit, ginger, grains, clove, cinnamon, spice, baking spice, iodine, wood, sweet oak, cedar.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, honey, apricot, pear, orange, grape, raisins, dried fruit, ginger, malty, almond, toasted nuts, nutty, clove, baking spices, spicy, white pepper, peppery, wood, oak, cedar, Pedro Ximenez, sherry, Dewar’s, rich.
Finish: Caramel, molasses, vanilla, creamy orange, a decent amount of fruit, spicy sweet prunes, clove, minty, powerful pepper, peppery, wood, oak, balanced, concentrated, complex, smooth, lush.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Balcones Peated Texas Single Malt Whisky Classic Edition



9A Single Malt Whiskey
StillTheOne Distillery (New York)
Distilled using Imperial Stout beer.
Aged 16 months in charred American oak barrels.
90° proof

Nose: Caramel, burnt caramel, butterscotch, light cocoa, honey, pineapple, pear, apple—malic, lychee, raisins, vegetal, jasmine, green tea, almonds, nutty, church incense, cinnamon, pepper, toasted wood, malty, early May.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, vanilla, honey, peach, pear, apple, orange, kumquat, lychee, rhubarb, stewed plum, raisins, ginger, floral, vegetal, nuts, clove, spice, winter spices, malt, grain, bourbon barrel, woody, oak, smoke, smooth, balanced malt meets wood, rich, interesting.
Finish: Toffee, white chocolate, muscovado sugar, maple, vanilla, candied ginger, sweet tea, dark passionfruit, pear, lychee, orange peel, clove, spice, kitchen spice, vegetal, iodine, new wood, cedar, easy, smooth, steady, classic, rich, nice finish.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   9A Single Malt Whiskey



Abomination
The Crying of the Puma Malt Whisky

Lost Spirits Distillery (California)
Distilled from 100% peat smoked malted barley.
Finished with late harvest Riesling seasoned American oak staves. 108° proof

Nose: Toffee, caramel, brown butter, vanilla, marzipan, honey, dark fruit, dried fruit, baked fruit, smoky raisins, peaty maple, BBQ sauce, allspice, spicy, vegetal, peaty, smoky, campfire, wood, cedar closets, oak, rack house.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, dark brown sugar, dark chocolate, creamy, buttery, vanilla, sherry, smoky pear, grain, nuts, spicy, black pepper, malty, brine, iodine, light peat, lovely sweet peat, smoke, smoky, woody, oak, smooth, rich.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, orange, nutty, malty, spicy, salty, peat, smoky, wood, cedar, bourbon, scotch, balanced, complex, smooth, savory, good finish.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Abomination The Crying of the Puma Malt Whisky



287 Single Malt Whiskey
StillTheOne Distillery (New York)
Aged 32 months in charred American oak barrels.
90° proof

Nose: Caramel, chocolate, dark chocolate, sweet cream, vanilla, honey, apple, pear, cantaloupe, citrus, orange peel, tangerine peel. burnt orange, dried fruit, raisins, ginger, clove, spice, malt, smoky, oak, new wood, clean, fresh.
Palate: Caramel, creamy caramel, creamy, chocolate, malted chocolate, whipped cream, vanilla, Juicy Fruit, orange, citrus, toasted orange peel, plums, prunes, raisins, dried fruit, cola, sweet grains, nutty, herbs, sage, cinnamon, baking spice, spicy, pepper, peppery, salty, briny, tar, dark peat, wood, cedar, oak, bourbon, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, whipped cream, vanilla, raisins, lemon curd, citrus, herbal, cinnamon, spicy, black peat, mild wood, wood, oaky, bourbon, well-rounded, smooth, gentle, great neat, perfect.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



287 Single Malt Whiskey



Balcones No. 1
Texas Single Malt Whisky Classic Edition

Balcones Distilling (Texas)
Aged at least 22 months in oak. 106° proof

Nose: Caramel, caramel cookies, chocolate, fudge, Aunt Jemima syrup, honey, dark fruit, stewed fruits, dried fruit, baked apple pie, orange peel, green plantain, gentle floral, creamy coffee, granola, hazelnut, nutty, sweet barley, malty, wood, port wine, scotch, great nose.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, sweet caramel fudge, chocolate, dark chocolate, creamy, orange, sweet orange, orange peel, burnt orange, prunes, dried fruit, vanilla bean, grain, coffee, sweet cinnamon, clove, spicy, black pepper, peppery, iodine, rich stout, malty, aromatic oak, fruit develops, nice body, pleasant mouthfeel, balanced.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, sweet vanilla cream, vanilla, white chocolate, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, raisins, orange, sweet herbs, tea, espresso-like, pecans, pepper, iodine, bourbon-like, just a whisper of sweet, lots of heat, smooth and silky.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Balcones No. 1 Texas Single Malt Whisky Classic Edition



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Uprising American Single Malt Whiskey
Finished in Pedro Ximénez Sherry Barrels

Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. (Rhode Island)
Distilled from 100% malted barley.
Aged in new charred American oak barrels. 92° proof

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, rich caramel, burnt sugar, molasses, maple syrup, dark sugar, brown sugar, dark chocolate, honey, baked apple, burnt orange, grapes, raisins, dried apricots, sandalwood, nutmeg, nutty, smoked almonds, coffee, cognac, tawny port, Madeira, sherry, Oloroso sherry, Palo Cortado sherry, wood, toasted wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, treacle, brown sugar, sweet molasses, creamy, chocolate, dark chocolate, honey, very ripe plantain, raisins, dried fruits, apples, vegetal, almonds, coffee, clove, spicy, lots of pepper, moss, peat, Madeira, sherry, good body, smooth, tasty, super.
Finish: Caramel, dark chocolate, molasses, demerara sugar, creamy, vanilla, very ripe plantain, coffee, hazelnut, nutty, spices, cedar, sweet oak, full, rich, develops complexity, almost a dessert wine, rum-like, lingering port, great sweet finish.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Uprising American Single Malt Whiskey finished in Pedro Ximénez Sherry Barrels



Defiant American Single Malt Whiskey
Blue Ridge Distilling Co. (North Carolina)
Distilled from 100% malted barley. 82° proof

Nose: Toffee, treacle, dark chocolate, cola, plum, dark cherry, raisins, orange peel, dill, herbs, caramelized spice, cardamom, spice, incense, tea with cream and sugar, faint coffee, sweet grain, cereal, toasty, bacon, iodine, briny, maritime, forest, wet wood, old oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, buttery, vanilla, maple, salty chocolate, sweet sherry, dark cherry, orange peel, banana, corn, grain, malty, spiced bread, sweet spice, pumpkin spice, clove, pepper, peppery, salty, brine, iodine, wood, oaky, cedar chest, well-balanced, smooth, approachable, delicious.
Finish: Caramel, Baker’s chocolate, vanilla, corn, grain, parsley, clove, spicy, pepper, iodine, wood, woodsy, cedar, savory, balanced, well-made, great finish, pleasant, great neat.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Defiant American Single Malt Whiskey



Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey
Proof Artisan Distillers (North Dakota)
Distilled from locally harvested malted barley.
Aged 2 years – first in new American White Oak barrels and finished in bourbon barrels.
94° proof

Nose: Caramel, maple syrup, chocolate, creamy, vanilla, banana candy, sweet sherry, raisins, orange peel, banana peel, dough, dried Play-Doh, almonds, perfume, wormwood, cinnamon, clove, dried spices, sea salt, briny, iodine, fall leaves, peeled bark from oak, light wood, oaky, fresh.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, vanilla, tropical fruit, dried fruit, sherry, toasted dough, bready, grainy, malty, nutty, clove, allspice, hot cinnamon, pink peppercorn, peppery, wood, oak, cedar, maritime, briny, bouncy, smooth, creamy mouthfeel, nicely done.
Finish: Caramel, chocolate, vanilla, dried apricot, ginger, pleasant almonds, spicy, pink peppercorn, pepper, Play-Doh, malty, hints of moss, incense, peaty, smoky, woody, sherry, clean.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glen Fargo American Malt Whiskey



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

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, maple, honey, overripe fruit, sweet cooked apples, lemon peel, dried fruit, ginger, candy cane, Big Red gum, cinnamon, clove, cumin, coriander, spice, herbs, dill, toasty, malty, wheat pasta, smoky, young Canadian whiskey, clean, savory.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, treacle, rum, sugarcane, demerara sugar, vanilla, honey, smooth creamy orange, tropical fruit, sweet grains, nutty, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, soft spice, malted milk, malty, peaty, smoky, toasted cedar, woodsy, oak, smooth, pleasant.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, sugarcane, maple, creamy, vanilla, gummy candy, orange peel, Big Red gum, anisette, nutmeg, clove, church incense, baking spice, spicy, toasty, peat, smoky, woody, complex, well-balanced, savory, delicate, smooth as heck.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Door County Distillery Single Malt Whisky



Wanderback Batch No. 2
American Single Malt Whiskey

Wanderback Whiskey Co. (Ohio)
Distilled from 100% malted barley.
Aged a minimum of 3 yrs. Finished in ex-rum & ex-bourbon casks.
100° proof

Nose: Caramel, hints of toffee, marble chocolate, maple, vanilla, Juicy Fruit, yellow fruit, apricot, light banana, orange, orange peel, light lemon, dried fruit, sweet corn, banana leaf, ginger, licorice, sweet spices, cinnamon, cinnamon dust, spice, coffee, red wine, brandy, iodine, sawdust, cedar, oak.
Palate: Sweet caramel corn, creamy, dark chocolate, marzipan, honey, banana bread, rum cake, like rum, cherries, pear, orange, orange peel, nice balanced fruit, dried fruit, maduros, ginger, light corn, grain, bloomed toasted pine nuts, coffee, clove, pink peppercorn, peppery, overwhelming wood, woody, oak, hint of smoke, incense ash, malty.
Finish: Sweet vanilla, creamy, caramel, dark semi-sweet chocolate, clove, allspice, spicy, pepper, pink peppercorn, straw, peaty, woody, cedar, light, easy, so unique.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Wanderback Batch No. 2 American Single Malt Whiskey



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

FEW Single Malt Whiskey
FEW Spirits (Illinois)
Distilled from 100% malted barley.
Aged at least 1 year in charred American oak rye & bourbon barrels.
93° proof

Nose: Caramel, toffee, Baker’s chocolate, bitter chocolate, vanilla, honey, aged honey, apples overripe apples, fermenting peaches, cider, orange, orange peel, dates, dried fruit, dried raisins, golden raisins, corn, sweet grain, hints of toast, hay, straw, candle wax, cinnamon, clove, applewood, rosewood, cedar, oaky, sweet oak.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, treacle, molasses, chocolate, vanilla, ripening apples, sweet pear, summer orchard, orange peel, raisins, dried dates, ginger, smoothly roasted corn, popping corn, popcorn, hint of rye, nutty, clove, slight spicy, peppery, earthy, barnyard, “basse-cour,” iodine, briny, peaty, cedar, oaky, smoke, extremely complex.
Finish: Caramel, dark sugar, molasses, creamy, vanilla, honey, raisins, dried dates, grass, popcorn, clove, bacon, faint peat, charred corn, char, hints of smoke, oaky, flavorful, smooth, interesting.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



FEW Single Malt Whiskey



Acre Texas Single Malt Whisky
Acre Distilling (Texas)
Distilled from barley grown and malted in North Texas.
Aged in new charred American oak barrels. 100° proof

Nose: Caramel, treacle, dark chocolate, Baker’s chocolate, honey, dark fruit, apple, grape gum, bergamot, citrus, orange peel, figs, raisins, sweet corn, plantains, cereal, light toast, clove, cinnamon, spice, sweet tea, olives, meaty, salty, briny, sap, peaty, cherry wood, cedar, oak barrel, oak.
Palate: Caramel, dark chocolate, chocolate cupcake, raw sugar, brown sugar, crème brûlée, vanilla, orange marmalade, fruity rich, sweet grain, tea, floral, perfume, cinnamon, coffee, malty, slight dill, briny, peaty, charred, smoky, concentrated pine, woody, oak, nice body and mouthfeel.
Finish: Caramel, vanilla, honey, sweet tea, orange peel, dried fruit, clove, cinnamon, spices, peppercorn, stone, chalky, malty, woody, cedar, oaky, heat, balanced, complex, gentle, nice finish.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Acre Texas Single Malt Whisky



BRONZE MEDAL WINNERS

Tire Fire Puckishly Peated
Single Malt Whiskey

ASW Distillery (Georgia)
91° proof

Nose: Dark chocolate, tangerine, honeysuckle, sandalwood incense, straw, thyme, rye, waxy, candles, leather, hide, meat, salty, briny, maritime, peaty, ash, super-smoky, campfire, woody, cedar, Crown Royal, scotch, mezcal.
Palate: Dark chocolate, dried fruit, orange peel, citrus, grassy, pepper, malty, meaty, beef jerky, cowhide, farmyard, earthy, iodine, peaty, smoky, ashy, char, charred wood, cedar, wonderfully balanced, soft, smooth.
Finish: Hints of salted toffee, buttery, honeysuckle, citrus, bitter herbs, spicy, beef jerky, cowhide, iodine, peaty, smoky, char, burnt wood, savory, flavorful.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Tire Fire Puckishly Peated Single Malt Whiskey



Abomination
Sayers of the Law Malt Whisky

Lost Spirits Distillery (California)
Distilled from 100% peat smoked malted barley.
Finished with late harvest Riesling seasoned American oak staves.
108° proof

Nose: Toffee, chocolate, burnt brown sugar, charred maple, salted caramel, burnt caramel, orange caramel, burnt orange, cider, mixed fruit, cherry, dark fruit, dried fruit, peanuts, clove, black tea, peaty, barnyard, BBQ, sweet wood smoke, liquid smoke, big smoke, char, fired wood stove, woody.
Palate: Toffee, molasses, baked fruit tart, big fruit, apple juice, citrus, cinnamon, spice, clove, black pepper, pepper, briny, salty, burnt ends of brisket, whole roasted pig, peaty mix, smoke, smoky, smoked wood, charred wood, sherry, scotch, soft mouthfeel, balanced.
Finish: Caramel, molasses, prunes, ginger, grass, mint, black pepper, nutty, malty, iodine, cigar, perfect peat, peaty, camp fire, smoke, smoked wood, woody, good body, smooth, goes down easy.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Abomination Sayers of the Law Malt Whisky



Missouri Ridge Distillery
American Single Malt Whiskey

Missouri Ridge Distillery (Missouri)
Distilled from fine quality grains and Ozark Mountain water.
90° proof

Nose: German chocolate, vanilla, honey, pineapple, coconut, crushed peanuts, corn notes, Cheerios, grain, floral, spiced apple, baking spice, dry leaves, aged dried pork, peaty, char, new wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, butter, honey, apple, pineapple, guava, citrus, corn, biscuit, walnuts, dry leaves, tobacco, leather, smoke, aromatic wood, oak, single malt, velvety, soft, smooth.
Finish: Toffee, caramel, vanilla, honey, shortcake, toast, nutty, spice, spicy, peppery, tobacco, rennet, leather, tannic, oak, light smoke, smooth.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Missouri Ridge Distillery American Single Malt Whiskey



Spring44 Single Malt Whiskey
Spring 44 Distilling Co. (Colorado)
Pot distilled from heavy peated, single row barley.
Aged in used bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for at least 21 days.
100° proof

Nose: Chocolate, vanilla, honey, lollypops, Macintosh apple, apple skins, banana, orange, ginger, ginger ale, anise, mint, laurel, black olive, almonds, cloves, cinnamon, baking spices, spicy, salty, brine, wet stone, iodine, peaty, smoke, campfire, cedar wood, cedar box, birch wood, scotch.
Palate: Chocolate, chocolate biscuits, maple, vanilla, ripe fruit, ginger, anise, perfume, allspice, cinnamon, spice, pepper, moss, briny, seawater, salty, beef teriyaki, beef jerky, smoked, peat, char, fire pit, oak, cedar closet, sherry, scotch.
Finish: Scotch bonnet peppers, peppermint, herbs, anise, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, cinnamon, mace, sage, spicy, very mild pepper, Hawaiian smoked salt, iodine,smoke, liquid smoke, teriyaki smoke, hot.


Bronze Medal
Bronze medal



Spring44 Single Malt Whiskey

 

 

 

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