A Complete Guide to American Whiskey

by Ethan More
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Whiskey made in the USA is only one component of American whiskey. Its rich culture, history, and influences that have shaped it over the ages are, in fact, what define it.

American single malt whiskey is made entirely of malted barley and can be aged in new oak casks, used oak barrels, occasionally ex-Bourbon barrels, and occasionally different barrels altogether.

What is American Whiskey?

More than only whiskey distilled in the United States can be considered American whiskey. Actually, there are certain guidelines to follow in order to qualify as American whiskey in the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Federal Standard of Identity for Distilled Spirits.

First off, whiskey is made up of grains that have been combined and fermented to create a mash. Certain varieties of whiskey will need to adhere to certain amounts, and the proportions of various types of grain used are known as a “mash bill.”

The mash must be distilled to a maximum alcohol by volume (ABV) of 80% for the great majority of American whiskeys. The ABV of generic American whiskey, which doesn’t contain any of the qualifiers listed in the kinds below, can reach up to 95%.

What Is an American Single Malt whiskey? 

A single distillery that uses malted barley as the only grain in the mash bill produces a single malt whiskey, according to the simple definition. Single malts are made all throughout the world, but they are most frequently found in Scotland.

American whiskey types

Tennessee whiskey comes in second place to bourbon whiskey as the most well-known American whiskey. But as distilleries proliferate from North Dakota to Utah, Texas to Washington, the entire nation has profited. In fact, the artisan whiskey market has grown so much in recent years that the US has become one of the most sought-after exporting nations.


Bourbon is to the United States. Although it can come from any state as long as it contains at least 51 percent corn and is matured in new barrels, Kentucky produces the majority of it. The standard mash bill (i.e., recipe) contains roughly 75% maize, 15% rye, and 10% barley, however rye is replaced with wheat in heated bourbons like Maker’s Mark to further soften the flavor.

Tennessee whisky 

This product is simply bourbon with the addition of the Lincoln County Process, which involves filtering it through ten feet of sugar-maple charcoal after distillation. The reason Jack Daniel’s whiskey is the most popular whiskey in the world is because it is easy to drink and has a sweet finish.

Corn Whiskey

Uncertain of the flavor of this young whiskey? Moonshine, ruckus juice, and mule kick are some of its nicknames. This beverage is more enjoyable to consume if you recite the following tale: Disgruntled distillers moved to areas with abundant corn after a whiskey tax was implemented in 1791, where they started making whiskey.

Micro distilled

Micro distillers frequently experiment with whiskeys that don’t fit the legal definitions of the ones mentioned above, creating everything from replicas of American whiskeys from the eighteenth century to a mixture of Georgia peach juice and bourbon mash. Whether you like that or not, you have to respect the rebellious, creative attitude that helped make American whiskey what it is today.


Rye packs a delicious punch and was once the American whiskey. It is bitter and peppery, similar to rye bread as opposed to corn bread. Rye, as opposed to barley, was simpler to produce here, according to European immigrants (the main ingredient in scotch). Then why isn’t it more widespread? Drinkers acquired a preference for the bourbon’s softer flavor after Prohibition. The whiskey of choice for those in the know, rye has recently had a major revival.

How should I take my dram?

It truly doesn’t make a difference whether you drink Scotch or American whiskey. It typically gives a very diverse flavor profile, though.

There aren’t any strict guidelines on how to drink American whiskey, unlike Scotch, because it is significantly less expensive and of significantly lower quality.

Naturally, it’s a good idea to follow the conventional guidelines when tasting superior American whiskeys like Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton’s, Woodford Reserve, or Balcones. 

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