Whiskey and whisky are having a moment that doesn’t seem likely to end anytime soon. Bars zero in on them, media outlets gleefully spill ink (or pixels) over them, and passionate drinkers upload 10-minute videos reviewing them. The thing is, we still mostly only credit a few corners of the planet with producing of the good stuff. Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Japan dominate mainstream whisk(e)y conversations.
That hasn’t stopped other states and countries from trying to get in the mix, though. And considering how often the best distillers use grains and barrels from outside of their respective regions, there’s really not as much tying the spirit to particular locales as it might seem at first glance. Parts of the world with distinct distilling traditions like Sweden, Germany, Taiwan, the Caribbean, Australia, and beyond may be known more for vodkas or brandies or rums, but if they’re able to make those spirits, they just might be able to make great whisk(e)y, too.
With all of this in mind, we thought we’d cobble together a list of nine great bottles of whisk(e)y from places you might never expect. Of course, this list isn’t nearly complete (we see you, whiskey-outrage Twitter!) and what you’d “expect” will vary depending on your knowledge level. Ultimately, this is a gateway to a wider world of whiskey and whisky that you can use to begin a broader exploration of the spirit.
Slyrs 3-Year-Old Single Malt Bavarian Whisky
This is the first single malt to be distilled and bottled in Germany, Bavaria specifically. The barley whisky has a distinctly German vibe and edges away from more classic scotch notes. The whisky is barreled for a relatively short three years and has still managed to stand out.
TASTING NOTES: Burnt cream and vanilla greet you on this one. Sweet plums and baked apples with plenty of spice are present. Next, you get notes of barley malt sitting next to lemongrass citrus and more creamy burnt sugars. Finally, a nice peppery and cinnamon essence comes into play as the whisky warms up toward the finish. –Zach Johnston