Christopher Osburn

10 Best American Craft Whiskeys To Drink Right Now | Man of Many

Our list of the best American craft whiskeys goes like this.

Best American Craft Whiskeys at a Glance

1. Widow Jane 10-Year Bourbon

If you’re a bourbon fan and you’ve never heard of Widow Jane (what’s wrong with you?), now is the time to get on the bandwagon. Widow Jane is a brand proving that “sourced” isn’t necessarily a bad word when it comes to bourbon. This New York-based brand sources its whiskeys from Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. These hand-selected bourbons are married together in five-barrel batches before being proofed with limestone water from nearby Rosendale Mines. This award-winning whiskey is known for a flavour consisting of dried cherries, maple candy, orange peels, and sweet vanilla.

2. Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon

If you’re a whiskey novice, you might assume that all bourbon needs to be made in Kentucky. Well, while around 95% of the sweet, corn-based whiskey is made in Kentucky, technically it can be made anywhere in the US. This is why brands like Wyoming Whiskey have been able to make a name for themselves with small-batch bourbons. This award-winning expression is Wyoming Whiskey’s flagship offering. It’s known for its flavour profile featuring notes of butterscotch, toasted vanilla beans, sticky toffee pudding, cinnamon sugar, and lightly herbal mint. The finish is sweet, spicy, and pleasantly warm.

3. Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey

While bourbon gets all the acclaim as America’s “native spirit”, many people believe that applejack and even rye whiskey might have a claim to this title as well with each having its inception hundreds of years ago. Brands like Sagamore Spirit are carrying on this rye tradition with many notable expressions including its flagship Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey. This blend of two straight rye mash bills is matured between four and six years in highly-charred American oak barrels. The result is a multi-dimensional, rich, slightly spicy whiskey with notes of cinnamon, clove, sweet honey, toffee, candied orange peel, and peppery rye.

4. Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey

When many drinkers think about Tennessee whisky, they tend to turn their attention to Jack Daniel’s exclusively (and to a lesser degree George Dickel). We’re here to tell you that the “Volunteer State” has a lot more to offer. One of the best, lesser-known whiskeys is Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey. This award-winner is a Tennessee straight sour mash whiskey known for its high-rye content. Using the Lincoln County Process, it’s filtered through charcoal. The result is a sublimely smooth, mellow, easy-drinking whiskey with hints of candied pecans, dried fruit, toasted marshmallows, vanilla, and oak.

5. St. George Spirits Baller American Single Malt

This is one of the most unique single malt whiskeys in the world. California’s St. George set out to make a Japanese-style single malt whiskey using 100% American-grown malted barley and they actually did it. First, it was pot distilled before being matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and French oak wine barrels. It was then filtered through maple charcoal before being finished in umeshu (a Japanese liqueur made from a tart stone fruit called ume) casks. The result is a fruity, slightly smoky whiskey with flavours like almond cookies, maple candy, tropical fruits, and vanilla sweetness.

6. Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon

If you’ve ever been to Northern California, there’s a good chance you’ve visited Redwood National Forest to behold the massive, majestic Redwood trees. The whiskey brand created in its name’s flagship whiskey is its Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon. This award-winning, high-corn bourbon is a blend of bourbons matured between four and twelve years. This results in a full-flavoured, complex whiskey with hints of candied pecans, peppery rye, vanilla beans, dried fruits, and rich, oaky wood. It’s sweet, warming, and well-suited for slow sipping on a cool evening.

7. FEW Straight Bourbon

This popular, award-winning straight bourbon comes from the folks at Evanston, Illinois’ FEW Spirits. It’s a three-grain bourbon made with sweet corn, barley, and spicy, peppery northern rye. Made in small batches, it’s matured in charred oak barrels. It’s well-known for its bold, complex flavour profile consisting of wintry spices, cracked black pepper, cinnamon, toffee candy, vanilla, and rich oak. It’s the slightly spicy, sweet, peppery whiskey guaranteed to appeal to both rye whiskey and classic bourbon fans alike.

8. Westland American Single Malt Whiskey

Westland is one of the distilleries leading the way in the new age of American single malt whiskey. Its flagship expression is a five-malt barley mash bill (Washington Select Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Extra Special Malt, Pale Chocolate Malt, Brown Malt Washington Select Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Extra Special Malt, Pale Chocolate Malt, and Brown Malt) that’s fermented, distilled, and matured in new, charred American oak barrels. First released in 2014, this Pacific Northwest-produced single malt is highly rated and known for its notable flavours of dried cherries, toasted vanilla beans, rich oak, toffee, chocolate, and caramel.

9. Nelson Brothers Reserve Bourbon

Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson come from a family of distillers. Sadly, the family brand shut its doors back in 1909. More than 100 years later, in 2013, the brothers re-established the family name in the whiskey world by launching Belle Meade Bourbon and then opening Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville in 2014. One of its most popular whiskeys is its Nelson Brothers Reserve Bourbon, a high-rye bourbon known for its flavours of pipe tobacco, orange peel, candied pecans, vanilla, caramel, and cracked black pepper.

10. Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask Finish

Another big name in the American single malt whiskey world, Westward (not to be confused with the aforementioned Westland) make a variety of award-winning, noteworthy expressions. Our favourite is its Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask Finish. This 92-proof whiskey begins as a traditional single malt whiskey before being finished for a full year in casks that were seasoned with stout beer. This results in a bold, rich whiskey with notes of roasted grains, candied pecans, vanilla, and rich dark chocolate. It’s a complex, memorable whiskey that will make you rethink your ideas of what a single-malt whiskey should be.
With more than 10 years of experience reviewing whisky, beer, wine and other spirits, Man of Many’s team of editors have selected a list of the best American Craft Whiskeys. They’ve taken into account price, flavour, and availability when compiling this list, while also leaning on author Christopher Osburn who has more than 15 years of experience writing about alcohol and lifestyle topics. As our resident drinks expert, Chris is the perfect person to unpack these rare and hard-to-find drams.

How Man of Many Chose the Best American Craft Whiskeys

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Alternatives to American Craft Whiskeys

What is the best American craft whiskey to try for the first time?

Widow Jane 10-Year Bourbon is a great first whiskey for those looking to step into the craft scene. We love this one because of its flavour profile and value-for-money, expect dried cherries, maple candy, orange peels, and sweet vanilla.

What is the best strong American craft whiskey?

Nelson Brothers Reserve Bourbon is our favourite American craft whiskey for those looking for that extra 'burn'. It's bottled at 107.8 proof or 53.9% ABV. It kicks.

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