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American Whiskey Bracket Challenge

American Whiskey


When we think of American Whiskey, our first thought is most likely Bourbon, and rightfully so. As of May 4th, 1964 (not that long ago really) Bourbon was officially declared a "Distinctive Product of the United States and is unlike other types of alcoholic beverages, whether foreign or domestic." So it is fair to think Bourbon, and we certainly do love it. With that being, as I put together this year’s Whiskey Bracket Challenge, I decided I wanted to try to highlight some of the "other" types of American Whiskey (last year we just featured Bourbon).  I tried to get as many in to the bracket as I could, but with the amount of great American Whiskies that we carry, and only 16 spots available, a few categories got left out, some just due to price point (we limited the bracket to Whiskey under $35 that are readily available) . So with all of that, lets take a look at some of these “other” American Whiskies.

First, the basic rules:


Made in the US from a fermented mash of cereal grains distilled to no more than 160 proof, entering the barrel at no more than 125 proof made from at  least 51% corn aged in charred, new oak barrels

In the bracket:


Follows all the same rules as Bourbon, only it has to contain at least 51% rye.

In the bracket:


Must be at least 80% corn, can be unaged or aged, can be aged in used or uncharred barrels

In the bracket:


By definition, has to be 20% Straight Whiskey and the rest can be whiskey (less than 2 years old) or grain neutral spirits. Class A Blends are blends of all straight whiskies of higher quality

In the bracket: 

More About American Whiskey

Bottled in Bond - is not so much of a style as it is a classification. It means that the whiskey has been made by one distiller, in one distilling season (January to June / June to January), aged a minimum of 4 years in a government supervised warehouse, and bottled at exactly 100 proof, this can be applied to any American aged spirit (not just whiskey)

In our bracket this includes:

Malt - though when most of us see malt, we think Single Malt, which means 100% malted barley. In the US as of this time Malted Whiskey follows the same rules as Bourbon, only it has to contain 51% malted barley not represented in the bracket. Try Westward Single Malt

Wheat Whiskey

Follows the same rules as Bourbon, only it has to contain 51% wheat. This was the first new style to be recognized after prohibition. Try Bernheim

Tennessee - follows the same rules as Bourbon, must be made in Tennessee, and be filtered through maple charcoal (known as the Lincoln County Process) Not in the bracket: Try Jack Daniels, George Dickel, Heavens Door, Uncle Nearest, Belle Meade

So with all of that, we begin our whiskey bracket challenge. In true tournament fashion, in any given matchup no outcome is certain, but in the end there are no real losers. All of these whiskies are fantastic and we look forward to tasting them and sharing them with you. We also encourage you to taste along with us, share your thoughts and opinions, and decide for yourself what you think is the best under $35 American Whiskey in our store.


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