World Whiskeys: Traveling the Globe One Dram at at TimeBy Stephanie Moreno
When the word “whiskey” is mentioned the types of whiskeys that will be discussed first will likely include American bourbon, single malt Scotch whisky and blended Irish whiskeys. Popular Canadian whisky brands like Crown Royal and JP Wiser’s might get mentioned too. And of course for anyone who has been drinking whiskey for the past decade or so will likely know to put Japan in the discussion as well.
But there are wonderful whiskeys made around the world beyond the big five countries of the US, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Japan. World whiskeys are gaining in popularity and distribution globally with many of these brands now available here in the US.
If you take a look beyond Scotland and Ireland you’ll see many European countries producing whiskey, mostly single malts. And while France is known for its exquisite wines and brandies, you may be surprised to learn that they also make whiskey. As a matter of fact, although the French have only been distilling whiskey in earnest since the 1980s, today there are over 80 whiskey distilleries in the country. Some of the more widely available French whiskey brands here in the US are Armorik, Brenne and the recently released Alfred GIRAUD.
The Prince of Wales himself, HRH Prince Charles helped open Penderyn Distillery in Wales on St. David’s Day back in 2004 making it the first Welsh whisky distillery to open in over a century. Meanwhile over in England St. George Distillery, makers of The English Whisky Co., opened in 2006. It too was the first registered distillery in the country in over a century. A more recent addition to England is Cotswolds. This brand which filled its first casks in 2014 is committed to only using barley grown in the Cotswolds. In fact each bottle includes the individual farm where the barley is harvested.
Other European brands to keep an eye out for are PUNI from Italy and Mackmyra in Sweden. PUNI is an unusual malt whiskey. Instead of 100% malted barley, the brand uses malted barley, malted wheat and malted rye in its production. Meanwhile Mackmyra is experimental and innovative while using Swedish raw materials when possible. Both brands are worth a taste. Make sure to check with your favorite retailer to see what they have to offer.
More World Whiskeys
Looking at Asia you’ll find several India whiskey brands to explore. While India has been distilling other spirits for some time now and distilling whiskey for some of its blends, the country only recently started to specialize in single malt. Amrut launched its first single malt whisky in 2004, John Distilleries launched Paul John Single Malt back in 2012 and Rampur began to export its single malt whisky in 2016.
Whiskey glasses at sunset
Other world whiskeys to explore include Israel’s Milk & Honey Distillery which was founded in 2012 under the guidance of the late Dr. Jim Swan. In addition to Dr. Swan’s now classic STR casks — shaved, toasted and re-charred, M & H also utilizes other unique barrels such as pomegranate wine and other Israeli wines. Australia’s Starward Whisky which was founded in 2007 has several whiskeys in its portfolio. They include both single malts and a blended grain whiskey made with malt and wheat. Notably, Starward puts Australian wine barrels to good use for its maturation. Both brands have recently entered the US market so expect to see more from them in the years to come.
And finally, it seems that the US isn’t the only country making whiskey from corn. Our friends south of the border have recently gotten into whiskey production. The most recent Mexican whiskey brand to hit our shores is Abasolo produced about 60 miles north of Mexico City. It’s said to be the first distillery devoted fully to Mexican whiskey. Additionally, it’s also the first 100% corn whiskey from Mexico.
So now that you know what brands of world whiskeys are out there, it’s time to start tasting.
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