We love whiskey for the many ways it can surprise and delight us. As much as we rely on standby single malts or sturdy straight bourbons, we also love to taste and discover the new flavors whiskey makers are dreaming up, reimagining recipes and tweaking technique to deliver something truly different.
The Spring 2021 Buying Guide features four such American whiskeys which draw inspiration from, among other things, gose-style beer and the Mississippi River. What happens when you mix malted barley and malted rye and age it in a stainless-steel cask with toasted mizunara staves inside? Golden Gate Whisky was willing to find out. What about blending house-made single malt with pot-distilled light whiskey? San Jose’s 10th Street Distillery did just that with its California Coast Blended whiskey.
A passionate whiskey drinker is always up for a new adventure, and these drams are different enough to challenge any seasoned taster. Go outside the norm with one of these whiskeys, and check out the full Spring 2021 Buying Guide for more reviews.
4 American Whiskies That Showcase A New Approach
Cascade Moon (Edition No. 1) Whiskey
88 points, 42%, $90
An 11 year old blend containing 16 and 11 year old whiskeys whose profile is inspired by gose-style beers. The nose offers sweet notes of bubble gum, cherries, blueberry pie, candied orange, caramel corn, and cinnamon bread, tempered by hints of eucalyptus and herbs. The palate is herbal and spiced, with flavors of bitter chocolate, pear tart, and cinnamon. A mellow finish of dark fruit is dusted with cinnamon powder, herbal notes, and oak. —David Fleming
Golden Gate Single Cask Mizunara Cask Whiskey
88 points, 55%, $135
Made from 80% malted barley and 20% malted rye and aged in a stainless-steel cask with toasted mizunara oak staves and heads. Divisive among tasters, with mint chocolate chip ice cream on the nose, with saltwater taffy, dried apple rings, and seaweed. The palate diverts from the striking nose with dried tobacco, stroopwafel, and caramel M&Ms. The finish is bitter but bright, with lemon and new oak. A highlight of the inventiveness among America’s craft distillers. —Ted Simmons
10th Street California Coast Blended Whiskey
87 points, 42%, $40
A blend of house-made single malt and sourced pot-distilled light whiskey. Sweet campfire smoke wends its way through grain, nut, and toast aromas, with hints of peppermint, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Smoke and sweetness interplay on the palate with vanilla nougat and smoked almonds. The abrupt finish comes off a bit hot, but is mouthwatering all the same. It’s enchanting, and a creative expression of smoke, at times evoking a smoky Toblerone bar. —Ted Simmons
O.H. Ingram River-Aged Whiskey
87 points, 48%, $80
A blend of bourbon and rye matured on a barge in the Mississippi River. A light fruitiness on the nose turns candied at times, with raspberry-peach iced tea, strawberry hard candies, and grape soda. That quality carries over to the palate, where cherry cough syrup and orange peel meet lemon and dry oak. The finish is quick, with more fruitiness in the form of cherry skins. It’s light-bodied for the proof, but with full flavor. (10,300 bottles) —Ted Simmons