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Issue 80 - Distilling revolution

Whisky Magazine Issue 80
June 2009

 

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Distilling revolution

Liza Weisstuch looks at some of the new wave of craft distillers who have started to grab the headlines and glasses of whisky lovers.

You could call it evolutionary. As the American whiskey market grows, new styles have emerged that could be explained with the taxonomic language and logic Charles Darwin employed to describe the plant and animal kingdoms.

Throughout the country, American distillers are handcrafting small batches of whiskies that show traits of their forbearers, yet each product has characteristics distinct unto itself, a result, in part, of adaptation to regional conditions and resources. Where once American whiskey was narrowly defined, the players in the fast rising sub-categories do not necessarily adhere to the rules that define bourbon or rye, offering even the whisky aficionado flavour profiles that resemble nothing ever tasted. Some will judge this as sacrilege, others call it thrilling.

Regardless, it's easy to wonder is there a regionalism by which these new world whiskies can be organised? The short answer: not so fast.

With whiskey production taking hold all over the world – from Japan and India to Australia, New Zealand and Sweden – it's little surprise that Americans would hitch their wagons to the stars of innovation, especially in light of the culinary boom that's evolved exponentially in recent decades.

New gastronomic experiences and fresh flavours have become de rigueur. Fritz Maytag is often credited as the godfather of American microbrewing. Owner of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco since 1969, his brewery became the first to operate an inhouse distillery in 1993. ...

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