7 Distinctive American Single Malt Whiskeys to Try Now

With more distillers making it and older stocks being released, American single malt continues to grow. That’s good news for curious whiskey drinkers, as the not-yet-defined style offers a range of flavors and possibilities. Not only do these whiskeys reflect the diverse climates in which they’re made, but distillers are using smoke, barrel finishing, innovative blending, and more to impart personality and perspective, making the style all the more rewarding to explore.

The Winter 2021 Buying Guide features a number of American single malts, including Andalusia Stryker, No. 20 on our 2021 Top 20 list. Additionally, there are distillers from the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Virginia, and beyond are producing whiskeys that routinely score 90 points or higher by our tasting panel. These seven bottles from our Winter issue provide a snapshot of what’s available and how different American single malt whiskeys can be.

Wide-Ranging American Single Malt Whiskeys From the Winter Buying Guide

91 points, 46%, $60

A malty delight on the nose—sweet breakfast cereal along with hints of lemon peel and vanilla bean. The palate is creamy and honeyed, offering vanillin, milk chocolate, poached pears, melon, orchard fruits, subtle spice, and a hint of barrel char. A long, mouth-coating finish has notes of ginger, generous cinnamon spice, sweet lemon, and more vanilla. A great array of core flavors, and the finish seals the deal.—David Fleming

Westward Cask Strength
90 points, 62.5%, $100

On the nose, fragrant wood spice, green banana, baked kumquats, and kiwi. The palate leads with creamy vanilla and baking spice, jalapeño peppers, dark chocolate, black coffee, and chicory. The big flavors mean water is a must, bringing out chocolate-covered marshmallows, dark berries, a tropical note of sweet pineapple, toasted almonds, coffee cake, and a hint of barrel char. The finish is full bodied and spiced, with more pineapple and vanilla sweetness.—David Fleming

Copper Fox Peachwood
90 points, 48%, $54

Ashy and smoke-forward on the nose, with pecan shells, flamed orange disc, vanilla frosting, tobacco leaf, and then mesquite barbecue notes emerge. A creamy palate pairs that same ashiness with pine nuts, vanilla bean, cracked black pepper, cocoa husks, and red chile flakes. Water presents red fruit, allspice, and chicory coffee. Those flavors carry over to the finish. Give this one time and maybe a little water.—Ted Simmons

Whiskey Del Bac Dorado
90 points, 46%, $60

The smoke greets you on the nose, with charcoal briquettes, fireplace soot, and cinnamon candy alongside wax paper, peppermint, and butterscotch. The palate is light but flavorful with pepper spice, barbecue sauce, apple skins, and grilled peaches. A lengthy finish tacks on more black pepper, chocolate, coffee, and dried sage. The mesquite smoke here is ever-present but never too forceful, with strong balance and construction throughout.—Ted Simmons

New Holland Zeppelin Bend 4 year old
89 points, 45%, $50

Highly herbal and floral on the nose—pine forest, lavender, eucalyptus, and fresh oak—alongside blueberry compote and Whoppers when water is added. There’s more chocolate on the palate with brownie batter, Milk Duds, caffè mocha, and figs. Root beer and cinnamon spice on the finish, as bitter herbs and a buttery texture round it out. There is a depth and richness of flavor that demonstrates clear vision and execution.—Ted Simmons

John Emerald John’s Alabama Peach Wood Smoked
87 points, 43%, $45

A musty nose features an array of fruit from pears and sour green apples to cooked prunes, alongside lemon zest, melon candies, and potpourri. The palate is soft and light bodied, offering notes of citrus, cherries, and red currants, with a waxy texture. Mint chocolate appears on the finish as does cocoa powder and a hint of smoke. The flavors here aren’t super explosive, but they are balanced and lightly spiced.—Ted Simmons

Sator Square
86 points, 45%, $40

Youthful on the nose, with a note of fresh oak, new leather, some spice, pie crust, pumpkin pie, and brown sugar. The palate is light and seems young, but offers some fruitiness, spice, and a sweet note of marmite coming through. There are some good flavors on offer, and this whiskey is well made, but there is a lack of unity—the flavors don’t completely come together into one harmonious expression.—David Fleming

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