American whiskey (that’s right, with an ‘e’) appears a less explored avenue of the malted spirit, especially outside its native lands. Ask someone if they like whisky, and chances are they’ll swear fealty to Scotches or Japanese whiskies, even Irish if they’re serious connoisseurs, but rarely do you hear bourbons and ryes getting similar love.
In spite of it being whisky’s slighted sibling, it’s not an entirely dismal prospect. Somewhere in the late 2000s, bourbon started gaining traction alongside the cocktail revival. Some credit the hit AMC series, Mad Men, for bringing the Old Fashioned and the Martini back to the spotlight, but whatever Don Draper’s intense love for the Old Fashioned may have done for cocktail culture, the excellence of bourbon lies entirely in itself.
American whiskies, including bourbons and ryes, are a species of their own. Very much like how Tennessee and the Scottish Highlands are polar opposites, so do their whiskies, both in flavour and production.
Practical education is always necessary when embracing new spirit categories. By that we mean drinking, and drinking a lot of it. If you’d like to experience American whiskies in all its variants, head down to Manhattan Bar any day of the week. The bar recently established an American Whiskey Embassy, featuring a collection of over 150 different expressions, ranging from premium Van Winkle bourbons, Sazerac ryes, to a collectible Blanton’s from 1992. There are even bottles from the pre-Prohibition era within the shelves, making it truly exciting for anyone with a modicum of whiskey knowledge.
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