The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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Page 26 of 132

The American Single Malt Box W hen we think of American whiskey, we go to Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey—and rightly so. But there's a quiet trend of American single malts hitting the market that are worth tasting. I like starting the American single malt whiskey conversation with St. George Single Malt. It has a lovely sweet nose, almost like whiskey pudding, and a creamy palate with hints of mango and dry finish. The whiskey works in cocktails, especially citrus-focused ones, and truly opens up with a cube or two of ice when served straight. But what I truly find unique about St. George Single Malt is its bal- ance and the delicious detection of the barley malt. Yes, it's sweeter than what you'll find in Scotland, but it's also made in California. It's my favorite whiskey to show in an American whiskey class, because people blind taste it and ask, "Wow, what is that?" Another fantastically good American single malt is McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt Whiskey from Clear Creek Distillery. Using peat- malted barley, McCarthy's takes a page out of the Islay producers' book and might be mistaken for one of the meatier scotches. This single malt actually ages three years in Oregon oak, a rare distinction of single malt being aged in barrels from its origin. Although among us whiskey geeks the 2011 release is thought to be the best, all years consistently deliver the peaty nose and warm mouth. It gives slightly raw sugarcane notes with 26 / the tasting panel / september 2012 a touch of oak on a smooth finish that lingers like a Bowmore. McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt Whiskey is an impressive whiskey that leaves you wanting to know more about American single malts. For what is perhaps the most exciting newer brand in this category, Triple Smoke American Single Malt Whiskey, Corsair Artisan Distillery takes three fractions of malted barley and smokes them individually with cherry wood, peat and beechwood. The whiskey is then pot-distilled and barreled in new charred oak. I realize that they're not inventing a new fuel to save the planet or curing cancer, but man, that's the type of experimentation that will improve whiskey! The taste is peaty, nutty, chocolaty, grassy and smoky, with slight hints of salted pecans and grandma's butterscotch pudding. Triple Smoke is all over the place in a good way, taking the palate on an adventure. But I fear these American single malt whiskies may never get the chance they deserve. The American consumer likes to put everything in a box. We can't put these spirits on the bourbon or rye whiskey shelf, and most certainly not in the Irish or Scotch whiskies section. So, help me out here: On your next menu, reserve a line or two for "American Single Malt Whiskey." The category deserves its own box.

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