As far as I’m aware this tasting was the first all American line-up we’ve seen in York for 5 or more years. It was met with open arms by the Bourbon enthusiasts that had long been asking for a tasting focusing on their favourite style of whiskey. When Kev (manager of the Brigantes) said he was laying on an all American weekend, the opportunity/excuse was there to lay on an all American tasting.
A huge step away from the normal Scottish malt whiskies we play with, the line up consisted of:
Buffalo Trace White Dog, 62.5%
Buffalo Trace, 40%
Jim Beam Rye, 40%
Rittenhouse Rye, 50% Single Barrel (Whisky Exchange exclusive)
Knob Creek 9yo, 50%
Eagle Rare 10yo, Single Barrel, 45%
Each dram was well-received in its own way, even the new-make spirit from Buffalo Trace. The Knob Creek proved to be the most controversial dram and whiskey of the night went to Jim Beam Rye. It’s always interesting to see a show of hands at the end of a tasting as it can often reveal some unlikely results. If anyone had asked me prior to this tasting which whiskey I thought would have come out on top, it would have definitely been the Eagle Rare. But there we go – it just goes to show you never can tell.
I’ve always enjoyed a glass of Bourbon or Rye and I’ve always approached it with the view that it’s something to get stuck into and not be to precious about (with the exception to things like George T Stagg and what not). You can often pick up a decent bottle of Bourbon around the £20 mark which will offer a ton of flavour and can be planted on the table at a party without the concern of it being overly abused like, say a bottle of 1982 Caol Ila or something. In fact I think you would be hard pushed to find an example of a Scottish malt at this price point that is as accessible and as drinkable.
Big bold American whiskey can be a real breath of fresh air especially if you’re into big heavily-peated or heavily-sherried styles. A bolshie 100 proof bottle of Rye will give you plenty of big flavour and although a different set of flavours, it is on a similar page when it comes to being a big hit of intense, rich tastiness.
With more and more small craft distillers cropping up all over the U.S, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more interesting and tasty offerings in the next few years. Not just Bourbon and Rye and not just whiskies confined to American white oak casks either.
If you’ve never explored this category before and you’ve been drinking Malt Whisky for years then give it a go. There’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Special thanks to the lovely Kay at Maxxium and James at Hiâ€“Spirits.
More information on the whiskies on tasting can be found at their respective websites;