10 Modern American Whiskey Brands Everyone Should Know

Gear Patrol | Will Price | July 18, 2019

Dominated almost entirely by mega-distillers like Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey and Heaven Hill, the American whiskey landscape is oligarchical and old. The reason for this is straightforward: making good whiskey requires extraordinary initial capital, and the capacity to bleed money for close to a decade. This has led many of America’s next-gen distillers down a dark path, relying almost exclusively on buying stocks of whiskey from other makers and passing it off as their own. Five-year-old distilleries selling 10-year-old bourbon without any mention of where the whiskey might have been made.

Beyond transparency concerns, reliance on bought-stock spawns issues of its own. Newer distillers leaning on the work of other whiskey makers means less craft, less innovation and more stagnation in a slow-moving industry. If the smaller, less bureaucratic producers aren’t free to experiment and explore new corners of whiskey, we leave that task to colossal macro-distillers. In this way, craft whiskey is related to craft beer in name alone.

But there are new American whiskey brands trying, in earnest, to change that perception. Craftspeople pushing for a more creative, more clear and more diverse whiskey shelf. From rye blenders to hype peddlers, these are ten of the brands leading whiskey’s next act.

Old Elk Bourbon

In his last job as Master Distiller of MGP, Greg Metze created the über-high rye mashbill that took the whiskey world by storm (you know, the one Bulleit, Angel’s Envy, Redemption, Smooth Ambler and more rode to success). Funded by the guy behind Otterbox, Metze’s new project takes aim at another enormously profitable sector of the whiskey market: ultra-smooth, inoffensive beginner bourbons. Based in Colorado, Old Elk may not have a distillery yet (a rather large one wraps construction later this year), but its ambitions are to become the Basil Hayden’s of bourbon’s next act. Get used to looking at the Old Elk label; in a few years time, you’ll be seeing it everywhere.

Full article at gearpatrol.com