American whiskies are waters less treaded in our parts of the world. Few of those who possess an ardent love for Scotch can call themselves well-versed in the world of bourbons, ryes and unaged whiskies. This largely boils down to a lack of exposure here, though there are initiatives in Singapore to bring the spirit class to mainstream attention.
One of them is Bourbon Street, a dedicated bourbon bar with a New Orleans flair. Manhattan is another, especially since it has amped up its whiskey education game with its new American Whiskey Embassy. The 150-bottle collection spans anything from entry-level to rare American whiskies, that guests who patronise the bar can explore and even order drams from.
We spoke to Phillip Bischoff, the bar manager of Manhattan to suss out some of his recommendations for anyone venturing into the spirit category. The next time you’re looking to expand your collection, or bust out a bottle at a dinner that’ll make an impression, choose one from this list.
If you’re a complete novice and want to learn more about whiskey before jumping the gun, take a look at our guide here.
High West is Utah’s first distillery, having been around since 1870. The High West Double Rye is a decent introduction to rye whiskies, being mostly sweet, without much of the sharp graininess that assaults the back of the throat. It’s got a nice, warm spice that’s signature to ryes too.
There’s a legend that surrounds Johnny Drum bourbon. Back during the Civil War period, Johnny Drum was a young boy who left his hometown in Kentucky to fight in the war. He was underaged, so they made him a drummer boy. Post-war, he returned home and began distilling. The bourbon in the bottle is said to stem from the original recipe. While we don’t know how much of this is fact, this cask-strength, small-batch whiskey is delightfully well-rounded and strong in caramel and cinnamon notes.
This whiskey’s namesake comes from Reverend Elijah Craig, the first man to mature his bourbon in charred oak barrels. The expression has become something of a collector’s item due to the variance in each batch, and the 12 Year remains one of the most universally enjoyable. Having been matured for more than a decade in oak, the bourbon takes on the sweet, charred notes of its cask while exhibiting sweet hints of vanilla and brown sugar. You don’t need much to make this whiskey sing.
Moonshine has long been given a bum rep, but it is time for this unaged whiskey class to rise. Distilled from corn, rye and barley, this particular white whiskey is a raw, pure expression that’s clean on the palate, but packs an ample punch.
Instead of being matured in charred white American oak barrels, Mitcher’s is aged in barrels that previously contained bourbon. This is why it resists the classification of “bourbon” and is instead labelled as American whiskey. It’s far creamier than a regular bourbon, and possesses a hint of acidity atop the typical sweet spice, caramel and vanilla notes. This is one to try for something unique to the usual score of American whiskies, but not altogether foreign.