There’s a lot of whiskey in the world. Hell, there’s a lot of whiskey made right here in America. Kentucky and Tennessee alone offer thousands of expressions to choose from. Then you have 48 other states in which distilling traditions are being reborn and craft distilleries are reinventing the game wholesale.
It’s a great time to be a whiskey lover, fam. Maybe the best time.
One of our favorite aspects of regional or state-by-state whiskey tasting is learning the little tweaks and odd quirks that local distillers and blenders utilize. Special water sources, locally grown grains, unique wood staves, and artsy aging techniques all come into play to create truly one-of-a-kind whiskeys. Which makes throwing down the ultimate gauntlet and naming the “best whiskey in all 50 states” a daunting task.
With our livers pickled and our eyes bleary, we’re here to report: the job is done. These are the bottles that stand out to us right now. Of course, this list isn’t the be-all and end-all of American whiskey. Tastes differ. Palates shift. And picking just one bourbon from Kentucky is a fool’s errand. Still, we stand by these picks. We’re ready to ruffle some feathers and get attacked in the comments and social media.
Alabama — JOHN EMERALD JON’S ALABAMA SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
This single malt stands out from the crowd by being imbued with pure Alabama flavors. The barley used in the mash bill is kilned using smoke from pecan and peach wood, giving the smoky whiskey a distinctly southern feel.
Tasting Notes: Smoke comes through but with a nice dose of spice and bright fruit. There’s a clear and deep burnt cream sweetness next to the fatty pecan nuttiness. At the end of the sip, the smoke gets dialed back as the spice and creaminess lead to a warming alcohol finish.
Alaska — PORT CHILKOOT WRACK LINE RYE
This 70-percent Alaskan rye focuses on organic grains, double distilling, and expert aging in newly charred American oak. This is Alaska in a glass while embracing American whiskey tactics.
Tasting Notes: There’s a brightness to the spice here. It’s light yet full of floral notes, oaky vanilla, and peppery rye spices. A thin line of sweetness comes in late that leads right back to a spicy warm finish.
Arizona — ARIZONA DISTILLING COPPER CITY BOURBON
AZ Distilling’s award-winning bourbon is a superb non-Kentucky bourbon to seek out. It’s corn-based with a mix of rye and barley filling out the mash bill. The whiskey is then aged for just under four years in new American oak before hitting the bottle.
Tasting Notes: Bourbon vanilla is upfront. Next, you’re going to feel a rich and buttery caramel sweetness with a hint of rye spice. There’s a beautiful balance here between the wood, spice, vanilla, and corn sweetness that just works.
Arkansas — ROCK TOWN SINGLE BARREL BOURBON WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
Happy #WhiskeyWednesday y'all! Kill two birds with one stone and stop into The Distillery for a $5 (TAX INCLUSIVE) Old Fashioned and then pick up one of our whiskey sampler packs for your dad. That's right, Father's Day is Sunday 🥃💪🏻🥃⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #rocktowndistillery #whiskey #whiskeygram #whiskeydistillery #fathersday #fathersdaygiftideas #distillery #oldfashioned #whiskeysampler #meetmeinsoma #littlerockarkansas
This was 2015’s micro whiskey of the year according to The Whisky Bible. The whiskey is made from locally grown Arkansas corn, red winter wheat, and a dash of malted barley. The booze is distilled and then goes into a barrel until it’s just right. Then, the bourbon is bottled right out of that single barrel. There are no blending barrels here.
Tasting Notes: This is pure bourbon. A confluence of vanilla, wood, spice, and caramel combine in a perfectly balanced sip. If you like your bourbon’s even-handed with some dark berry and toasted caramel notes, this is your jam.
California — SPIRIT WORKS STRAIGHT WHEAT WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
This event is this Saturday the 4th – get tickets while you still can! Posted @withrepost • @wwwbayareachapter We can’t wait to taste and learn more from the deliciousness of @spiritworksdistillery —alongside many other stellar brands—that will be joining us on May 4th for our Women Who Whiskey forum at Sea Star SF, so you should too! We’ll be having a grand ol time learning from women in the industry and hosting a fundraiser for Spark SF and gender equality. Come join for an afternoon of tastes and talks! Must be a member to come! Be sure to sign up to get your ticket (or donate) with the links in our profile. 👆🏻 . . . . . #womenwhowhiskey #wwwbayareachapter #womenwhowhiskeybayarea #www #whiskey #bayarea #whiskeyclub #womenwhiskeyclub #whisky #women #strongwomen #womenempowerment #whiskeyneat #whiskeycocktails #lookgoodfeelgood #drinksonus #cheers #bourbonmaven #oakland #sf
This small time distillery is all about grain-to-glass excellence. In this expression, organic red winter wheat from the Sacramento Valley is distilled and then aged for over two years in a newly charred American oak. It’s California in a glass — creative and craft-driven.
Tasting Notes: There are nice florals and bright orchard fruits upfront. A slight straw grassiness comes into play along with clear oak woodiness and vanilla. The sip gets slightly dry before coming in with a spicy, warm finish.
Colorado — STRANAHAN’S DIAMOND PEAK
Diamond Peak combines 100 percent barley single malt whiskey, heavily charred oak, and Colorado Rocky Mountain spring water into a delicate sip of whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Bready malts are present. Then the Christmas season comes into play with a mix of … is that almost peppermint?, plus marzipan, and Christmas cake spices. There’s a nice hint of smoke to pull back on that sweetness, with a solid heat twining together with the spice at the finish.
Connecticut — LITCHFIELD BATCHERS’ DOUBLE BARRELED BOURBON WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
Today we celebrate our anniversary! When we first started out, this is what our portfolio looked like. We've come a long way in four years, thanks to the support of our community and business partners. We can't thank you enough for your loyal enthusiasm. Cheers to your Spirit of Hard Work! . . . #spiritofhardwork #craftspirits #craftdistillery #bestofct18 #litchfieldcounty #ctlocal #ctmade #madeinct #drinkctlocal #bourbon #whiskey #vodka #gin
This micro-distillery in Connecticut is making some magic happen by blending their own whiskey with sourced whiskey they barrel and age in-house. Litchfield is all about making good whiskey great and then bottling it for you.
Tasting Notes: The sip starts with an almost vinous note that goes into sweet caramel and spice. There’s a clear vanilla essence through the woody oak. The aged-grape flavors come in again with a slight sweetness before a warm finish.
Delaware — PAINTED STAVE DIAMOND STATE STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY
Delaware isn’t exactly known for producing whiskey. It’s a pretty small state, after all. Still, Painted Stave is producing some big flavors up that way. Their straight rye doesn’t overdo it with a single grain and keeps the rye mash bill at 67 percent with 25 percent corn and the rest malted barley. Finally, the distillate is aged for two years in new American oak until it’s just right.
Tasting Notes: There’s an easy start to this one with mild rye spice. The sweetness that comes next is closer to a burnt toffee with a hint of vanilla from the oak. The spiciness of the peppery rye carries through and closes out with dry warmth.
Florida — ST. AUGUSTINE PORT FINISHED BOURBON
The bourbon rests for three years in American oak first, giving it a classic base. Then, the booze goes into port casks from San Sebastian for six solid months. The end result is a unique bourbon that’s both enticing and refined.
Tasting Notes: The woodiness that leads this one feels more like a cedar than an oak. Corn comes into play, along with a sweet dried fruit meatiness a la port wine. Vanilla and hints of mint show up and are later washed out by oak, bitterness, and a whisper of ripe red berries.
Georgia — GHOST COAST STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
Introducing Ghost Coast’s Second Release Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Made from a mash of corn, malt, wheat, oats, and using a traditional bourbon yeast, the Second Release is made for traditional bourbon lovers. This classic combination allows the oak barrels, oats, and Georgia’s Hostess City aging to shine through, bringing forth an inherent earthy taste and vibrant tannins. Come out Saturday (June 1) and sip for yourself! 🥃
This bourbon from Savannah, Georgia, hits a lot of right notes. The spirit is distilled from a mash bill of corn, rye, wheat, and oats — giving it extra heft and depth. It’s then well-rested under humid conditions and swaying Spanish moss.
Tasting Notes: The emphasis on the rye adds spicy notes that are immediately followed by rich butterscotch. Then the oak and vanilla come in alongside dried apricot, buttery caramel, and a brewer’s yeast funk. Finally, a cinnamon spice takes over and leads to a warming finish that never burns.
Hawai’i — KO’OLAU DISTILLERY OLD PALI ROAD WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
Old Pali Road Whiskey – Lovingly hand-crafted in Hawaii to deliver the purest oak-barrel matured whiskey possible. Available in great bars and retail outlets throughout the islands. To find one nearest to you, visit: https://www.koolaudistillery.com/ #koolaudistillery #oldpaliroad #oldpaliroadwhiskey #beachwhiskey #craftdistillery #veteranowned #madeinhawaii #hawaiianwhiskey #hawaiiwhiskey
Ko’olau’s Old Pali Road is a special whiskey. The spirit is made from local Hawaiian grown corn and mineral water straight from a volcanic spring. Then the booze is aged in before being blended with five-year-old mainland whiskey to create a wonderfully balanced elixir.
Tasting Notes: This sip has a balance of a Tennessee whiskey by way of Kentucky bourbon. There’s a clear sense of banana fruit and dried plums upfront. That’s then cut by oaky vanilla and mild warming spice on the back end.
Idaho — GRAND TETON COLTER’S RUN SMALL BATCH BOURBON WHISKEY
This mountain whiskey is a gem. The distillate starts with a 71 percent local corn base then adds nice cut of rye with a dash of malted barley in the mash. The spirit is then aged in nicely charred new American oak for at least three years before going in the bottle.
Tasting Notes: What’s nice about this bottle is that the rye doesn’t overwhelm the bourbon notes. The opening is clear bourbon notes of vanilla with an orange zest essence that pops. The sip edges dry — with notes of wood, vanilla, and baking spices leading to a mildly warm finish.
Illinois — FEW RYE WHISKEY
Just outside Chicago, FEW is bottling some great booze. Their rye takes a 70-percent local rye and mixes it with a 20 percent local corn and ten percent malted barley. The distillate is then rested in well-charred new oak wherein it dials into a classic rye whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Herbaceous spice leads the way. Think blooming sage, basil, and mint, cut with allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Pear and peach orchards and wildflower fields kissed by the sun lead towards a clear rye spiciness and toffee sweetness which then propels the dram to a dry and bright finish.
Indiana — BEAR WALLOW HIDDEN HOLLER CORN WHISKEY MOONSHINE
Indiana’s Bear Wallow is a female-driven distillery working some magic in a state where the lion’s share of America’s whiskey actually comes from. Their unaged corn whiskey, or moonshine, is a great example of the whiskey style and worth seeking out to get a sense of what every whiskey is before it goes in the barrel.
Tasting Notes: The corn really shines in this ‘shine. You get a sense of the sweet cereal by way of a slight alcohol burn. The edges are still rough but that is, literally, the point. There’s a grassy nature at play that leads to a dry palate. There are distant echoes of spice and fructose notes of what might come to pass had this touched oak.
The drink ends hot with an eye-popping verve that’ll leave you wanting more. And saying words like “grandpappy” or “I reckon.”
Iowa — TEMPLETON RYE BARREL STRENGTH STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY
Templeton’s Barrel Strength Rye expression is a combination of Indiana spirits and Iowan barreling expertise. The MGP distillate of 95-percent rye grains and five-percent malted barley pairs wonderfully with the Templeton barreling program to produce superb rye blended from hand-selected barrels.
Tasting Notes: Dried fruits and meaty plum sweetness lead the way. Then a toasted almond fattiness comes into play before the sharp rye peppery spices and bright florals cut through it all towards a lush, long-lasting, and warm finish.
Kansas — UNION HORSE ROLLING STANDARD MIDWESTERN FOUR GRAIN WHISKEY
This Kansas whiskey is a uniquely American whiskey expression all around. The bottle marries two American whiskey styles with four separate grains involved. It’s part American wheated bourbon and part American single malt. Locally sourced corn, wheat, rye, and barley are utilized in the mash. Then the booze is mellowed in used oak barrels from Missouri until it’s just right.
Tasting Notes: The grain-to-glass whiskey opens with classic notes of oaky vanilla. Next, a maple syrup earthy sweetness cut through along with a roasted almond fatty nature. Dark pitted cherries come into play right before the rye kicks in with a hint of cinnamon on the mildly spicy finish.
Kentucky — MICHTER’S SINGLE BARREL KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY
Michter’s Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon is a masterclass in everything wonderful Kentucky Bourbon can be. And, look, there are thousands of bourbons we can call out here. Kentucky is rife with amazing whiskey. Still, this bottle stands out again and again as being exactly everything we want and need in a great bottle of the brown stuff.
Tasting Notes: Interestingly, this sip opens with a clear ripe green apple bite next to bourbon caramel and the distant echo of green olive brine. Then the classic bourbon notes rush in with a butterscotch clarity and vanilla oakiness that never overwhelm. Fatty roasted almonds lead the way to the distant billow of pipe tobacco smoke before the warming finish rises up and takes you home via a leathery library from yesteryear.
Louisiana — LA 1 LOUISIANA WHISKEY
Donner-Peltier Distillers out in Thibodaux has been distilling and aging an award-winning whiskey for years now. The spirit is a unique one that incorporates locally grown rice into the mash bill alongside the classic ingredients of corn, rye, and barley.
Tasting Notes: There’s a clear sweetness from the rice that accents the corn. A funky rye note comes in with an almost pumpernickel essence, followed up by a sugary sweet note. Notes of oaky vanilla sit next to buttery toasted rye bread and hints of deeply roasted cacao nibs.
The finish is bold and brings the peppery rye spice to tie it all together.
Maine — MAINE CRAFT FIFTY STONE SINGLE MALT WHISKY
A Scottish-style single malt made in Portland, Maine? Yup! This is pure Maine in a bottle. The distillers take 100-percent locally grown barley and malt it with locally sourced peat and seaweed. This imbues a clear and unique smokiness you won’t find in any other single malt.
Tasting Notes: This one opens up with a clear sense of the barley via a warm scone covered in salty butter and honey. Then the smoke comes into play next. It’s subtle. There’s a briny nature like you’re about to enjoy a crab boil off a campfire right on the beach. You sense the sea spray through the smokiness. The honey and salty butter come back into play as the smoke leads to a soft finish.
Maryland — SAGAMORE SPIRIT PORT FINISH RYE
Taking spicy rye and finishing it off in port barrels adds a wonderful dimension to Sagamore’s famed rye expression. The port counterbalances the heat with a fruity nature that ebbs towards sweet, adding depth to the American grain spirit. Oh, and did we mention, this was awarded the “World’s Best Rye Whiskey” at this year’s (2019) San Francisco World Spirit Competition?
Yeah, this is a bottle worth chasing down and putting on your shelf right now.
Tasting Notes: You’re greeted here with notes of buttery toffee, rich and meaty plums, and a matrix of baking spices. Sharp and sweet dark cherries and red berries come into play alongside a caramel smoothness. Then a bitter note comes in as the port fruitiness fades and rye spice rises.
Finally, that sweet, plummy port nature takes over towards a dry-ish, warm end.
Massachusetts — BOSTON HARBOR PUTNAM NEW ENGLAND SINGLE MALT
View this post on Instagram
Does your dad love #whiskey? Give him a gift he'll actually want this Father's Day with a bottle of our Putnam New England Rye or Single Malt Whiskey! Find the closest retailer to you with our store locator tool on our website or stop by our public hours on Saturday from 12-5 PM to pick up a bottle! #drinklocal
Putnam single malt takes Scottish tactics and filters them through New England terroir. Local malted barley is combined with Massachusetts spring water to create a distillate that then goes into well-toasted and charred new American oak barrels. The result is something American by design but familiar.
Tasting Notes: The sip opens up with a clear sense of the malts and a nice, mellow sweet edge. There are notes of florals that give way to a dark chocolate bitterness with hints of espresso. The finish comes in fast with a warming essence, then returns to the mellow grain malts.
Michigan — TRAVERSE CITY WHISKEY CO. NORTH COAST RYE
The Great Lakes and surrounding agriculture are the highlights of this whiskey. The 100-percent rye mash highlights the beauty of the grains grown in the fields surrounding the distillery. This is a mellow sip that owes its accessibility to masterful distilling, barreling, and blending.
Tasting Notes: There’s a sweetness on the front of this one. The fruit leans more towards a Red Vine made of cherries. Then the sharp spices of the rye cut through and lead towards a fruity-yet-dry finish with plenty of warming spiciness.
Minnesota — TATTERSALL STRAIGHT WHEAT WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
🥃 NEW WHISKEY GIVEAWAY 🥃 Win a bottle of our new Straight Wheat Whiskey, made in collaboration with @lundsandbyerlys and now available at 11 Twin Cities locations. Crafted from 100% Minnesota wheat and aged over two years in Minnesota charred white oak, it's a smooth, 90 proof sipping whiskey that highlights the wheat with subtle undertones of vanilla, nuts and caramel. For a chance to win, tag a friend who loves whiskey, like the post, and follow our account and @lundsandbyerlys — we'll pick a winner tomorrow! The whiskey will be given away by Lunds & Byerlys
The addition of wheat in this Minnesota whiskey adds a nice depth of flavor without sacrificing the integrity of the drink. The barreling brings about a subtle mellow that leaves you reaching for the bottle to take just one more dram.
Tasting Notes: Hints of berries and bananas lead towards a caramel spice undercut with vanilla. There’s an echo of rye spice in the background here that helps lead to a big finish with more fruit and a warm alcohol buzz.
Mississippi — CATHEAD OLD SOUL BOURBON
This is a masterful blend of two bourbons. The base is a four years old, high-rye mash bill bourbon. That’s cut with an 18-month old bourbon that also has a high-rye mash bill. This is a unique blend that just works.
Tasting Notes: Caramel and vanilla greet you in classic bourbon form. Then the sip veers into an old library with a pall of tobacco smoke and the lingering presence of old leather. Ripe cherries take you in another direction altogether before the caramel sweetness returns along with the rye spice to finish things off.
Missouri — STILL 630 RALLYPOINT RYE
This award-winning rye whiskey is a measured sip. This whiskey has a mash made of 95-percent rye mixed with five-percent barley. The distillation is spot on and the Missouri oak barreling is masterful and straightforward. This is a great example of dialing in the skills and putting a good whiskey in the bottle.
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon and allspice greet you with a nice hint of caramel and vanilla from the oak. A baked cinnamon cookie sweetness and heft take over before the rye spice surfaces. There’s a clear sense of cinnamon, caramel, and rye malt from the beginning to warming end.
Montana — GLACIER NORTH FORK
North Fork Rye won gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The whiskey uses a mellow mash of rye and corn charred American white oak aging to create a wonderfully balanced and easily drinkable sip.
Tasting Notes: The sweetness from the corn meets you upfront. There’s a clear sense oaky vanilla and mild caramel that’s cut by a mellow rye peppery nature. Hints of orchard fruits and whispers of the corn marry that rye spice to propel the dram towards a well-balanced finish.
Nebraska — CUT SPIKE SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
Cut Spike’s single malt blends the world of Scotch whisky through the use of malted barley and the great state of Nebraska through the use of limestone-filtered local water. The still itself comes directly from Scotland, which helps to add to the overall Scotch feel of this American single malt.
Tasting Notes: The opening of this one is interesting. There are vinous notes next to a sour cider feel. The oak comes in with a vegetal flavor before the butterscotch takes over. Next, you get a sense of florals, oak, toffee, and mild spices. Finally, the sip warms up with some nice spice that gives way to a fatty and sweet prune finish.
Nevada — VERDI LOCAL MAHOGANY WHISKEY
Verdi’s Mahogany Whiskey breaks a lot of rules. It’s aged in stainless steel tanks with both mahogany and oak staves in the tank. It’s a sort of reverse wood mellowing process. The American whiskey finds a lot of nuance by having multiple kinds of wood at play at the same time from the inside out.
Tasting Notes: This whiskey hits a few classic notes while bringing in new ones. The oak gives the sip an opening similar to bourbon with caramel and vanilla present. Then a butterscotch rush comes in, paired with a sourness and a hint of yeast funk. A wave of cereal sweetness leads to a light and dry finish with a very distant warming spice.
New Hampshire — NEW ENGLAND SWEETWATER FARM & DISTILLERY CLARK & CHESTERFIELD BOURBON WHISKEY
This New England whiskey is a fascinating expression of bourbon. The mash bill is 51-percent raw corn, just barely making it an actual bourbon. The rest is 30-percent rye and 19-percent malted barley. The spirit is then rested in new American oak and bottled at a high 107 proof.
Tasting Notes: This is a bourbon that feels more like rye. Spice, apples, and caramel are on the front end. Oaky vanilla gives way to burnt, creamy toffee and floral notes. Finally, that rye spice takes over and blazes a path towards a hot and satisfying conclusion.
New Jersey — ASBURY PARK DOUBLE BARREL BOURBON
This is a unique expression of bourbon. That’s due to the whiskey finishing its aging process in gin barrels. Asbury Park distills award-winning gin and lets that spirit touch wood to get the sort of nuanced depth it takes to win those awards. To help their whiskey stand out, they then refill those barrels with bourbon to make the two spirits interesting echoes of one another.
Tasting Notes: There’s a smokiness on the nose here that is cut with a whisper of menthol and toffee. Then we’re sent on a classic bourbon path of oaky vanilla, more rich toffee, ripe apples, and peppery rye spice. There are hints of sweet raisins alongside that spice as the finish pops and lingers on the tongue.
New Mexico — SANTA FE SPIRITS COLKEGAN SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
Colkegan is a combination of the Scottish Highlands and New Mexico’s Indigenous ingredients. Instead of smoking their barley malts with peat, Santa Fe Spirits uses local mesquite logs in the kilning process, giving the base of this whiskey a clear New Mexico vibe.
Tasting Notes: There’s a subtle balance of brisk desert smoke next to olive brine umami. Then hints of rich and sweet marzipan arrive with white chocolate fattiness and whispers of vanilla blossoms. The smoke carries through with a sense of dark, tart berries and rhubarb, and dry mesquite wood.
That berry fruit feel carries on into the mellow finish as the smoke dissipates.
New York — KING’S COUNTY PEATED BOURBON
Brooklyn’s King’s County is doing some interesting things with whiskey all around. Their Peated Bourbon takes the ideas of Scotland and blends them with Kentucky’s hollers. The corn-fueled mash bill is cut with peated barley from Scotland, giving it a unique nature in the world of bourbon.
Tasting Notes: Cracker, dark chocolate, marshmallow sweetness, and smoke greet you — not unlike an evening spent around a campfire. Sea salt comes in next, along with toasted caramel, pretzel buttery breadiness, notes of leather, and a bitterness linked to that chocolate. Spice and salt combine to give this one a clear and deep finish.
North Carolina — DEFIANT AMERICAN SINGLE MALT WHISKY
It’s all in the name here. Defiant American Single Malt technically isn’t an “American single malt” due to it being aged in stainless steel tanks. The tanks do carry spirals of well-toasted American oak but the whiskey is never barreled in oak. We’ve seen this method before and we’re kind of here for its ability to add a new dimension to the world of whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Raw honeycomb and vanilla greet your nose. Crisp notes of peppery spice with a grassy edge. Cherry fruit and rich burnt cream have their moments with the spice carrying the brunt of the flavor until we reach the warm embrace at the end.
North Dakota — PROOF CROOKED FURROW HARVEST BLEND
North Dakota’s first bourbon focuses on local corn and barley from the great plains of the prairie state. The distillate is then aged twice through a hand-selected barreling program. The final product is blended from the best barrels that have aged a minimum of two years.
Tasting Notes: Corn shines here. There’s a clear sense of bourbon notes with vanilla, oak, and caramel leading the pack. Orchards full of tart apples and whispers of spice carry on through the sip until that corn-caramel sweetness takes hold on the back end, leading towards a big finish of spice, sweet, and bitterness.
Ohio — TOM’S FOOLERY BONDED BOURBON
There are a lot of things that make this whiskey unique and delicious. The first ripple is that it’s distilled in former Micther’s pot stills. The mash bill of 72-percent corn, 12-percent rye, and 16-percent malted barley has a great start with those well-worn stills. The spirit is then aged for four years in newly charred oak. Finally, the bourbon is finished in Applejack brandy casks, giving it a great distinction.
Tasting Notes: Light hints of smoke and buttery kettle corn open this one up. Grassy notes sit alongside caramel apples and chocolate. The sweetness starts to edge more towards honey as a musty leathery essence takes over towards a spicy end.
Oklahoma — OK DISTILLING 1907 RECTIFIER’S SELECT
OK Distilling is working as a master blendery that buys already aged whiskey barrels and blends them into superb bottles of booze. This is a pretty normal practice for newly minted distilleries still waiting for their own barrels to mature (WhistlePig does the same thing).
The point being, OK Distilling is showing it knows how to make a great bottle of whiskey even before we get to taste their original product.
Tasting Notes: The sip has bitter and toffee notes with a hint of florals. Vanilla and hefty notes of wood come in next. There’s a roasted cacao feel alongside some rich toffee and a mild spice that leads towards a mellow finish.
Oregon — RANSOM WHIPPERSNAPPER
Oregon’s Ransom Whippersnapper bridges the words of bourbon and Irish whiskey with a nod to Scotland thrown in for good measure. The corn-focused mash has a very unpeated barely feel. That spirit is then aged in barrels for six months to two years before being blended down into an award-winning elixir.
Tasting Notes: Biscuits, fresh out of the oven, are dominant here, with a nice dollop of raw honey and melted, salty butter. Orange zest, vanilla, maple syrup, fatty walnuts, dried fruit, and floral mints are all in play. There’s a move towards spice that’s quickly pulled back in the caramel and vanilla direction amidst a very complex yet subtle conclusion.
Pennsylvania — DAD’S HAT PENNSYLVANIA RYE WHISKEY
View this post on Instagram
#Repost @thebentspoon • • • • • • perhaps some Dads for Father’s Day?!? . Happy Father’s Day! to celebrate our @dadshatrye caramel is back! 🥃 . . #happyfathersday #dadshatrye #smallbatch #crafted #artisan #icecream #since2004 #sweet15 #foodporn #goodeats #princeton #nj #princetonnj #thebentspoon
This is rye in an almost purest form. The mash bill eschews corn for extra rye. It’s 80-percent rye, 15-percent malted barley, and five-percent malted rye, adding more rye-ness to the whole affair.
Tasting Notes: Ripe cherries and oak lead the way into a distinct rye spiciness. Those juicy cherries carry through with herbaceous and grassy notes. As the cherry starts to get tart and, dare we say, a little funky, the spice kicks back in towards a big, warm rye finish.
Rhode Island — SONS OF LIBERTY UPRISING
Uprising has its foundation in beer. The malts used in the 100-percent malted barley mash bill are the same roasted malts used to make a stout. It’s fermented with ale yeast, distilled, and then goes into charred American oak and toasted French oak to rest for a few years. Finally, the whiskey is blended to create a unique American single malt.
Tasting Notes: There’s a toasted, buttery nature to this sip. Notes of vanilla creaminess, rich caramel, dark chocolate, and well-roasted coffee beans are all in play, giving this one a stout feel. Finally, spicy notes kick in and cut through the fatty and bitter coffee and chocolate to bring along a very welcome warm finish.
South Carolina — HIGHWIRE NEW SOUTHERN REVIVAL SORGHUM WHISKEY
Sorghum whiskey is tricky business. The distillate is made from a sorghum syrup that’s not unlike rum. Still, sorghum is a cereal like corn that’s turned into a syrup. So, this is still technically whiskey and not rum (which is made from syrups or honey from non-grain sugar sources).
The point here is, if you dig rum, you’re going to love this.
Tasting Notes: Maple syrup comes through clearly here. Roasted and salted cashews carry you through a sip with hints of vanilla and peaty smoke. There’s a floral note on the end that has an echo of bitterness before the earthy maple syrup kicks back in.
South Dakota — BADLANDS IRON HILLS BOURBON
South Dakota’s Badlands highlights local ideas and products to create a grain-to-glass experience with their whiskey expressions. Their ingredients are harvested in the Badlands, allowing the terroir to dictate the path of this spirit.
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon spiciness greets you with a nice dose of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Apple orchards, toffee, and more oaky vanilla carry the taste into classic bourbon territory. Finally, that spicy cinnamon takes on a sweet Red Hots note as the finish comes up quickly.
Tennessee — NELSON’S GREEN BRIER NELSON’S FIRST 108 TENNESSEE WHISKEY
The rebirth of Nelson’s Green Brier in Tennessee has been a game-changer for Tennessee whiskey. The family-run distillery re-produced Belle Meade to get a start and, now, they’re producing their own distillate to celebrate the wonders of Tennessee’ whiskey heritage. Like Kentucky, there really are so many great options in Tennessee to draw from. But First 108 stands out and gets the nod here for its consistency and unique nature.
Tasting Notes: Cedar, anise, cinnamon, brown sugar, and apples open this one up. Baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon carry through alongside sugary toffee and sweet malty biscuits. Then the sip takes a left turn in the best way towards roasted coconut, tart cherry, and dark cacao as it nears warming end.
Texas — BALCONES TRUE BLUE
Corn whiskey is getting a revival in Texas. Balcones is taking locally grown blue corn and making magic happen in the world of whiskey. The roasted Hopi blue corn is precisely distilled and then goes through a rigorous barreling program in a multi-story warehouse in Waco, Texas, where hot days and cool nights give the whiskey a beautiful depth.
Tasting Notes: The sip opens up with some distant spice next to juicy tropical fruit. That spice mellows into wisps of rich pipe tobacco and an old library full of leatherbound books. Woody oak, dark chocolate, and juicy fruit combine to make a finish that buzzes on your tongue in the best way.
Utah — HIGH WEST AMERICAN PRAIRIE BOURBON
This blendery takes three whiskeys from around America to create a Utah whiskey that shines. The elixir is a combination of two-year-old bourbon from MGP in Indiana, a six-year-old Kentucky bourbon, and a 13-year-old Kentucky bourbon. The whiskeys are shipped to Utah where they’re tinkered with in the blending room until they’re just perfect for bottling.
Tasting Notes: Raw honeycombs, rich malt, and light notes of sawdust open this one up. Butterscotch sweetness and creaminess move the sip towards a tart apple bite with a light, earthy maple syrup glaze. Toasted oak and spice come together on the back end to end the sip on a high note.
Vermont — WHISTLEPIG FARMSTOCK RYE CROP 003
WhistlePig is clearly having a moment on the world’s whiskey stage. Their latest release (from July 2019) combines three whiskeys into a wonderful expression of rye. Two Canadian ryes — a six-year and ten-year — are blended with WhistlePig’s own grain-to-glass rye from their Vermont farm, which was aged in Vermont oak for three years. The results are a masterful bottle of booze.
Tasting Notes: Vanilla welcomes you to this drink with hints of cigar tobacco, sweet maraschino cherry, and chestnuts roasted over an open fire. Subtle rose pedals come in next with rich toffee, baking spices, and a burnt cream plushness.
Finally, that signature rye spice takes hold and gives you a warm embrace.
Virginia — VIRGINIA DISTILLERY CO. PORT CASK FINISHED VIRGINIA-HIGHLAND WHISKY
View this post on Instagram
Happy Birthday, America. This one's for you. 💙❤️ – Get our "Red, White & Whisky" recipe in the link in our bio. – Our Visitors Center will be closed July 4th. Regular hours will resume on Friday, July 5th. . . . . . #FourthofJuly #IndependenceDay #vadistillery #vadistilleryco #vaspirits #maltwhisky #barrelaged #americanwhisky #mountainwhisky #mountainmade #craftspirits #whisky #whiskey #imbibe #localspirits #artisanspirits #drinkresponsibly #madeinvirginia #loveVA #virginiaisforlovers #visitvirginia #virginiaisbeautiful #indiespirits
Virginia Distillery is marrying Virginia terroir and whiskey with the Scottish Highlands, literally. Their Virginia-Highland Whisky is a blend of Scotch sourced from Scotland and a local single malt from Virginia. The two are expertly blended and then finish aging in local port casks from Virginia wineries.
The results are unique and tantalizing.
Tasting Notes: Toasted malts lead the way with a tart red berry burst. Think of a scone covered in red currants. Cake sweetness arrives with a lingering of tart red berries and honey. Raisins come in next with a sharp spiciness before a distant echo of smoke comes into play on the very last note of this sip.
Washington — WESTLAND SHERRY WOOD AMERICAN SINGLE MALT
View this post on Instagram
Examine the path before embarking. Consider the drink before imbibing. Our Sherry Wood #americansinglemalt is more than a sherried whiskey, it's a careful balancing act between grain and cask. Learn more from our #linkinbio . . . . . #cartography #topography #travel #wanderlust #maps #singlemalt #dram #instadram #whiskeygram #cozy #fireplace #pnwonderland #adventure #getoutside #explore #westlanddistillery #westlandwhiskey
This is a big whiskey with a lot of ideas swirling around to make it stand out in the best ways. Six different styles of malted barley are used. Four different barreling tactics are in play: Oloroso, Pedro Ximenez barrels, used bourbon barrels, and new charred American oak are used for 26 months each.
Finally, one last ripple is the use of Belgian brewer’s yeast to add an extra layer of nuance to this single malt.
Tasting Notes: This sip transports you to a sunny orchard field full of trees full of heavy, hanging ripe fruits. Orange zest, dark chocolate, sharp spice, and plum sweetness are all in play. There’s a note of vinous heft that turns dry and plumy before the spice comes back in with whisper of smoke.
West Virginia — SMOOTH AMBLER. CONTRADICTION
View this post on Instagram
We’re #1! The countdown has begun. USA Today’s 10 Best Craft Whiskey Distilleries Readers' Choice Awards contest ends this Monday, Labor Day, at noon. Thanks to your votes, we’ve got the top spot – let’s keep it that way. Vote every day and spread the word. (We’re trying to strike just the right balance between proud and shameless – you know we love a good Contradiction.) https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-craft-whiskey-distillery/smooth-ambler-maxwelton-w-v/share/
Contradiction Bourbon is just that. The whiskey combines locally sourced ingredients into a West Virginia spirit that’s a young wheated bourbon. That’s then cut with a nine-year-old high-rye bourbon from Indiana. The straight bourbon is an excellent example of the magic blending can do for a bottle of whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Notes of Christmas cake spice come through with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger dominating. Bready malts are in play with a hint of corn cereal sweetness. Distant notes of vanilla and oak make appearances as the rye spice kicks in and takes the whole sip to a satisfying conclusion.
Wisconsin — 45TH PARALLEL BORDER STRAIGHT BOURBON
View this post on Instagram
@my_bourbon_journey reviewed all 3 of our whiskeys! Check it out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/z1i7lwJQSLo . . . . #whiskey #craftwhiskey #barrelaged #wwheat #richmondrye #borderbourbon #midwestdistillers #midwesternwhiskey #newrichmondwi #wheresyourmidwest #craftdistillery #reviews #whiskeytasting
Border Straight Bourbon is artisan whiskey that takes grain-to-glass very seriously. The grains for the mash are all sourced within eight miles of the stills. The spirit is then aged in charred Ozark barrels until it’s just right, with no adulterations whatsoever.
Tasting Notes: Classic bourbon notes are in play here. You’re greeted with vanilla, wood, and caramel. Apple juiciness and caramel carry on throughout. The end has a slightly bitter edge with a very subtle note of spice.
Wyoming — WYOMING WHISKEY SMALL BATCH BOURBON
This is another super-local whiskey. Wyoming Whiskey sources its corn, wheat, and barley within 100 miles of the distillery. The essence of Wyoming is in each batch of this well-aged spirit. The small-batch philosophy allows for detail orientated distilling and aging practices, which make the bourbon shine.
Tasting Notes: Big notes of vanilla and charred oak lead the way. There’s a sense of a well-used rope that leans towards an earthy grass nature. Orange peel and sweet cherries come into play with a continuation of the oak and vanilla. The end has a classic note of spice that concludes with a warm buzz on the tongue.