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American Single Malt Whiskeys Under $100 Worth Trying Right Now, Ranked

American single malt whisk(e)y might be one of the most interesting categories in whiskey right now. American single malts are popping up all over the country, mostly in the craft distilling scene. But since there are fewer regulations around American single malt, there’s a bit more going on in the making of the spirit. And unless you’re up on all the techniques, you probably need a place to start on your American single malt whiskey journey.

Before we dive in, an American single malt is any whiskey that’s made with 100 percent malted barley, either peated or unpeated, just like in Scotland, Ireland, Japan, or anywhere else for that matter. The whiskey has to be matured in some kind of oak and made in the U.S., which is kind of obvious. There are some other detailed rules about ABVs before barreling and bottling, but you get the gist.

Below, I’m calling out ten American single malts — all under $100 — that I think are worth actually drinking right now. Yes, I’ve ranked them but the bottom five are all winners too (maybe just not quite my cup of tea). The top five are all fire. All of these bottles are fairly new, some are instant classics, most of them have a slew of awards, and perhaps most importantly these are all tasty whiskeys.

Lastly, these are going to be fairly widely available but some of them might still be a little regional, and therefore only available at higher-end whiskey shops with good folks curating what’s on the shelf.

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months

10. Virginia Distillery Co. Courage & Conviction Cuvee

Courage and Conviction Cuvee
Virginia Distillery Co.

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $80

The Whiskey:

Virginia Distillery Co. is doing some of the most interesting things with American single malt — so let’s start here. This expression is made from 100 percent malted barley distillate that’s aged for three years in Cuvée wine casks. Those barrels are vatted and proofed down with local water and bottled without filtration or coloration, letting the barrels shine in the glass.

Tasting Notes:

Berries burst forth on the nose with a raspberry and blackberry bramble leading toward a cherry orchard with plenty of wood and fruit, a hint of malty spice, and a tiny whisper of brown butter. That butter layers into the palate with a berry cobbler vibe full of malty biscuit topping and spiced red berry filling that’s all dusted with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little allspice. The finish layers in a creamy note of honey, some more woody spice, and a tart, almost sour cherry end.

Bottom Line:

This is an exciting pour. It’s well-rounded but easy. It also feels summery, which, hey, that’s perfect for right now.

9. Westland American Oak American Single Malt Whiskey

Westland Whiskey
Westland

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

This Seattle whiskey is made with five types of barley from Washington state: Munich, Extra Special, Brown, Pale Chocolate, and Washington Select Pale malts. Those malts are all processed locally and then mixed with classic Belgian ale yeasts for fermentation. The distillate is then triple-barreled in new American oak, Cooper’s Reserve (more on them next) new American oak, and first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. Finally, those barrels are blended, proofed down, and bottled as-is.

Tasting Notes:

Lemon meringue pie bursts forth on the nose with thick and creamy vanilla pudding dotted with vanilla seeds, a little bit of Pecan Sandie, a touch of mocha latte, and a whisper of Earl Grey tea. The palate leans into the black tea and mocha with a continued creaminess. There’s an ester-y/banana vibe on the mid-palate that steers the taste toward ripe cherries, white peach, Almond Joy, and a hint of spicy malt. The finish is part banana bread and part rich vanilla/chocolate with a whisper of wet wicker.

Bottom Line:

If you like creamy fruit bombs (I do), then this is the bottle for you.

8. Copperworks Washington Peated American Single Malt Whiskey

Copper Works Washington Peated
Copperworks

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $76

The Whiskey:

The Pacific Northwest is a real hotspot for American Single malt and this other Seattle whiskey really leans into that community. This juice is made from 100 percent peated Copeland barley grown locally in Washington’s Skagit Valley. Those grains are kilned with peat harvested from a lake on the Olympic Peninsula. The whiskey is then small-batched from only six barrels before being bottled in a mere 1,043 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a whiff of grilled pineapple and papaya on the nose with smoked caramel, burnt vanilla pods, and tart passionfruit — it smells like a fruity IPA. That smoky caramel married roasted almonds with plenty of salt as firewood sap mingles with rye bread crusts, old saddle leather, plum jam with allspice, and a hint of mulled wine. The finish has a fig vibe with more of that leather and firewood leading to a slight white pepper powdery vibe.

Bottom Line:

This feels like more of an acquired taste than anything on this list. That said, if you like big, hazy IPAs with a little spice, then this is the play for your bar cart.

7. Dogfish Head Distilling Co. Lets Get Lost Whiskey

Dogfish Head

ABV: 51%

Average Price: $66

The Whiskey:

All whiskey starts off as beer so it makes a lot of sense when brewers start distilling. Industry darling, Dogfish Head, did just that with this expression. The base is 100 percent barley with a mix of Pale, Crystal, Coffee Kiln, and Applewood Smoke malts. That mash is fermented with Dogfish Head’s own ale yeast before distillation, aging, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Orange and honey mingle with a salted nuttiness next to vanilla pudding and a touch of dry cherry tobacco. The palate has a touch of that fruity yeast next to a slight chili-choco vibe that leads back to the tobacco with a cinnamon Red Hot edge. The finish really leans into the dryness of the chili-chocolate’s bitter end — to the point of conjuring an espresso bean next to a touch of smoked cedar.

Bottom Line:

This is a really nice whiskey all around. It also won a coveted double gold in San Francisco this year, which tracks for its quality. Overall, if you like Dogfish Head’s beer, this is a no-brainer buy.

6. Hillrock Estate Single Malt Whiskey

HIllrock Single Malt
Hillrock

ABV: 48.2%

Average Price: $99

The Whiskey:

Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (Maker’s Mark, WhistlePig) started this whiskey in New York. The juice is true farm-to-glass with the barley grown on the estate in the Hudson Valley. The grains are malted in-house. Hell, even the stills were specially built for this whiskey. Naturally, the whiskey is bottled by hand, adding an extra layer of detail to the whole thing.

Tasting Notes:

Bourbon vanilla and spicy malts lead the way on the nose as butterscotch candies, a hint of old oak, and leathery dark fruits round it out. The palate marries that butterscotch to almost woody honeycombs next to Red Hots, red-wine-soaked cedar planks, and plenty of winter spices. The finish leans into the winter spices with a touch of heat as the dark fruit leather comes back into play with a whisper of that wet cedar on the backend.

Bottom Line:

It’s crazy that this costs what it does. Granted, this might sneak above $100 in some markets but still… Anyway, this is a super refined and bespoke American whiskey that will speak to bourbon fans and maybe get them into the style.

5. Cedar Ridge The Quintessential American Single Malt

Cedar Ridge The Quintessential
Cedar Ridge

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $55

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is all about a grain-to-glass experience. The juice is made with 100 percent 2-Row Pale Malted Barley (the same stuff used in some of the biggest craft beers) from up in Saskatchewan. The whiskey is matured in ex-bourbon barrels for an undisclosed term. That whiskey is then finished in a combination of brandy, rum, wine, port, and sherry barrels before it’s vatted. The whiskey’s blend is then made using the solera method — where the vat is never fully emptied before the next barrel is added.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is immediately full of bright fruit with a peach and pear vibe that leans into a malty banana bread with plenty of butter, cinnamon, and walnut next to a touch of Almond Joy (but the good ones from a high-end shop). The palate is soft and subtle with hints of spiced malted gingersnaps, light cream soda vibes (maybe a light sasparilla), and a mellow and creamy base of chocolate that’s not dark but not milky either. The mid-palate has a nice sweetness that’s slightly apple adjacent with an apricot hint that mellows into a final note of chewy toffees with rum-raisin lurking on the very backend.

Bottom Line:

Things are really getting interesting on the bottom half of this list. This is just good whiskey, American single malt or not.

4. McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey Aged 6 Years

McCarthy's 6 Year
McCarthys Single Malt

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $98

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is a marriage of Scotland and Oregon in the bottle. The mash is made from 100 percent peat-malted barley from Scotland that’s fermented by Widmer Brothers Brewing and then distilled at Clear Creek Distilling on their Holstein pot still. That spirit then spends six years resting in air-dried Oregon oak before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The whiskey opens with a wet brown sugar that leads to a sticky toffee pudding with black-tea-soaked dates, plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, toffee sauce just touched with dark rum, and candied cherries on top. That candied vibe carries through on the palate with red cotton candy, rock candy sticks, and Red Hots on the mid-palate. The finish veers away from all of that with a mix of woody winter spices, old leather, and cinnamon/cherry tobacco with a very dry edge over a hint of cedar.

Bottom Line:

This, again, is the perfect American single malt for a bourbon lover. There’s a nice balance of sweet and spicy with a fruity edge that just works.

3. Boulder American Single Malt Whiskey Bottled in Bond

Boulder Spirits

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $75

The Whisky:

This Colorado whiskey is a fascinating experiment in that it asks what a single malt that’s treated like a bottled-in-bond bourbon might taste like. The juice is made from 100 percent malted barley. Then is spends four years in a bonded warehouse aging in new American oak. It’s bottled at 50 percent ABV, per federal regulations.

Tasting Notes:

Leather meets Chery Coke on the nose as vanilla pudding and brown spices mingle in the background with a hint of dry cinnamon sticks that have been dipped in mulled wine. The taste is all about the malty spice with more of that Cherry Coke next to ropes of black licorice, Sioux City Sasparilla, and a moment of dry wicker that was painted a long time ago. A hint of anise arrives late and brings about a finish that indulges in a spicy oatmeal cookie with raisins and walnuts and plenty of brown sugar, vanilla, and butter.

Bottom Line:

This feels like it’s all over the place but somehow works. Add some ice or water and it really blooms in the glass.

2. Westward Whiskey American Single Malt

Westward Distilling

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

Portland’s Westward Whiskey has its roots in Pacific Northwest craft brewing culture (like most craft distilleries in the PNW). This juice is emblematic of how important the first step of whiskey is — the fermented mash that is basically beer — to the whiskey-making process. The whiskey spends a few years aging in new American oak, like bourbon, before tiny batches of five or six barrels are used to create this expression.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a mix of cream soda, wet applewood, soft yet spicy malts, and orchard fruit (apples, plums, pears) on the nose. The taste has a soft vanilla tobacco vibe with a nutmeg-heavy eggnog creaminess, a little dry leather, and a pretty big dose of dry cacao that’s almost waxy. The chocolate vibe drives the mid-palate towards the finish with a powdered cacao edge, a slight wet wicker feeling, malty spice, and a plum pudding hint at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This is maybe the most straightforward whiskey on the list but that’s not why it’s nearly number one. Numbers five through three are all great, unique, etc. This has a point of view that’s succinct and engaging. The applewood feels wet. The spicy malts feel soft. There’s detail here that helps it stand out and that’s what feels special.

1. Balcones Lineage Texas Single Malt Whisky

Balcones Lineage
Balcones

ABV: 47%

Average Price: $52

The Whiskey:

Balcones helped redefine single malt as an American spirit. This expression starts as a combination of Simpsons Golden Promise malted barley from Scotland and barley from the high plains of Texas. Those malts are fermented and then distilled on stills Balcones imported from Scotland. The spirit then goes into both used bourbon barrels and new American white oak (like bourbon and rye) for a rest under the hot Texas sun. Finally, those barrels are batched and bottled with a little Texas water for bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a rush of tea tree oils in a mug of apple cider with freshly chopped and sappy douglas fir firewood next to notes of raw pancake batter, old peaches, and a freshly cracked can of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda. The palate builds on that with spicy yet sweet mulled wine, a big dollop of fresh honey, and plenty of soft cedar with a hint of allspice, burnt sugars, and maybe some floral black tea. The finish arrives with a syrupy red wine pan sauce with butter and cinnamon next to dry cedar, wet black tea grounds, and a walnut cake full of spice and vanilla with a caramel drizzle.

Bottom Line:

This is next level. It’s so complex yet takes you on a journey. It’s tea and cake in the afternoon next to making pancakes on Sunday morning with a hangover next to standing in an orchard next to the beehives. It’s one of the best American single malts you can actually get that also happens to be affordable.

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