Before we talk further about American Single Malt Whiskey, we should look at the origins of single malt whiskey. There are many differences between bourbon and other types of whiskey. To review the differences lookup this post from 2018.
Single malt is the original form of whiskey
Even though single malt has evolved over the years, the lineage goes back to the original whiskeys ever produced. There is documentation of whisky production using malted barley in Scotland dating back to the late 1400s. Single malt is most closely associated with Scotch whiskey. Single Malt Scotch Whisky is malt whisky sourced for a single distillery. Every distillery in Scotland uses malted barley to make their whisky, but each one tastes different. The existing standards for single malt whiskey in Europe are:
- Must be made at one distillery
- Uses malted barley
- Made in copper pot stills
- Matured for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks not exceeding 700 liters
- Bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV
NOTE: Caramel coloring is allowed for the production of single malt whisky in the United Kingdom
A Mash Bill is only a list of ingredients
When you consider that a mash bill is not a recipe but a list of ingredients, you must consider the different variances available to distillers. The spirit can be affected by using other yeast strains or making changes to the length of fermentation time. A distillery can use various sizes of stills or change the settings on those stills to help make their spirit unique. Finally, using different barrels, aging for different lengths of time, and the locations in the warehouses are all influences on the final product.
American Single Malt Whiskey
There is no specific definition for American Single Malt Whiskey. Currently, for those makers using new barrels for aging, it is being considered malt whiskey. For those aging in used barrels, it is whiskey made of 100% malt. Many distilleries are lobbying for specific language on what makes an American Single Malt Whiskey.
Current examples of American Single Malt Whiskey’s
High West High Country Single Malt, Corsair Triple Smoke, Town Branch Kentucky Single Malt, Hillrock Single Malt Whiskey, and Stranahan’s Single Malt are examples of various American Single Malts available today.
Courage and Conviction Whisky
Virginia Distillery produces an American Single Malt Whisky by the name of Courage and Conviction. Courage and Conviction is a blend made up of three distinct barrel finishes, including used bourbon barrels, used sherry casks, and used Cuv’ee casks. Watch our review of Courage and Conviction American Single Malt Whisky HERE.