American Single Malt Whiskey Overview

There are several variations of American whiskey. Contrary to common assumption, although most of it is made in Kentucky, bourbon, the most recognizable form of American whiskey, can be manufactured solely in the United States. However, Tennessee whiskey needs to be produced there.

On the other hand, rye whiskey is frequently manufactured outside of the United States, including in Canada (for additional information, see Instant Expert: Canadian Whisky). American whiskey is rye produced in our country; rye produced elsewhere is not.

What is American Single Malt Whiskey?

To ensure that American single malt whiskey receives federal certification, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, which is made up of around 100 whiskey distillers, has established standards that must be adhered to. To summaries, American single malt whiskey must be produced entirely from malted barley, be mashed and distilled in a single American distillery, be aged in oak barrels no larger than 700 liters, be distilled to no more than 160 U.S. proof (80 percent by volume), and be bottled at 80 U.S. 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Corn, rye, wheat, and barley are the four grains that are most frequently used to make whisky. A whisky made from each grain has a distinctive flavor. For instance, whisky made from corn will taste sweeter than whisky made from rye, which often has a more peppery character.

Depending on the grain used, there are a few minor variations in the whisky-making process, but in general it goes like this:

  • MALTING: The procedure of heating and drying the grain to stop the malting process after it has been soaked to allow for germination.
  • MILLING: The separation of malted grains into their three component parts (husks, Centre, and flour), which results in the powdery substance known as grist.
  • MASHING. The procedure in which grist is mixed with water that has been heated to varied degrees in a sizable container referred to as a mash tun to create mash or wort.
  • FERMENTATION. When yeast is added to the mash (or wort, if the spent grains are removed first), the process turns the mash’s sugar into alcohol, creating the wash, an unhoped beer with an alcohol content of about 8% by volume.
  • DISTILLATION. the procedure by which wash is heated in a still to separate and extract the alcohol, producing the spirit that will be put into casks to mature and become whiskey.
  • MATURATION. The distilled alcohol is put in various oak barrels for a set amount of time to mature, during which it develops its flavor and color qualities.
  • VATTING. After maturation, it is possible to blend and add water to whiskies from various casks, which can enhance the flavor and qualities of the finished product.
  • BOTTLING. Finally, the whisky is packed into bottles with an ABV of at least 40% for your consumption.

How Is it Made?

In order to be sold in the United States, whiskey must be made from fermented grain mashes. There are more stringent criteria for certain types of whiskey.


Bourbon must include at least 51 percent maize, though it frequently has much more. The remaining ingredients can be any other grain or mix of grains, with rye and wheat being the most popular. However, more experimental bourbons may use unusual grains such oats, quinoa, and triticale. To help with the fermentation process, a tiny amount of malted barley is frequently added.

Tennessee Whiskey 

Tennessee whiskey must include at least 51 percent maize, much like bourbon.

Rye Whiskey 

Rye must make up at least 51 percent of the mash bill for rye whiskey; the remaining ingredients are typically corn, wheat, and/or malted barley.

Various whiskeys

A minimum of 80% corn must be used in the production of corn whiskey. At least 51% of the name-brand grain must be present in wheat whiskey, malt whiskey, and rye malt whiskey.

What is the age of American single malt whiskey?

The concept was first realized in 1993. Since then, hundreds of domestic distilleries have been producing their own renditions of the American Whiskey, giving consumers the chance to discover a brand-new way to enjoy one of the oldest spirit varieties.

The American Single Malt Commission wasn’t established until very recently, in 2016, despite a number of courageous trailblazers having done the same throughout the years. As a result, the TTB increased its quest for legal classification and formal standards were developed to assist designate American single malt.