Smoky American Whiskey Picks

Smoky whiskey usually means Scotch whisky—where peat is commonly used in the malting process. But American whiskey makers are not only using peat to add smoky flavors, they’re also using other locally available wood types. Smoky whiskey fans take note!
May 07, 2019
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    Sweet & Rich
    McCarthy's Single Malt Whiskey is produced at Clear Creek Distillery outside of Portland, Oregon. Master Distiller Stephen McCarthy, ever the spirits pioneer, wanted to make an American whiskey in the style of Islay Scotch, but give it a local spin. So he sourced peated malted barley from Scotland, distilled it in Oregon, and aged it in Oregon oak.
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    Arkansas's Rock Town Distillery produces this Hickory-Smoked Whiskey, a wheat whiskey with a 91% winter wheat and a 9% malted barley mashbill. They cold smoke the wheat in their own hickory smokers prior to the milling process. The whiskey is then aged in a combination of 15-gallon and 25-gallon ex-bourbon barrels and is bottled and 90 proof.
  • 10
    Vanilla & Sweet
    Founded in 2005, Peach Street Distillers is Colorado's oldest independently owned and operated craft distillery. Their American Single Malt is matured in used barrels—freshly dumped barrels of their own Colorado Straight Bourbon. The peated single malt is barreled at 120 proof, is aged for an average of four years, and is then bottled at 92 proof.
  • 9
    Vanilla & Spicy
    FEW, the grain-to-glass Illinois distillery, makes its American Whiskey by blending FEW Bourbon and FEW Rye whiskeys along with its new experimental cherrywood-smoked malt whiskey. There is no-age statement for this whiskey which is bottled at 46.5% ABV. The initial release for this product begins in September 2018 and is limited to Chicago and New York City with planned expansion for spring 2019.
  • 8
    Spicy & Smoky
    Rimfire is a whiskey styled after peated Scottish single malt, but instead of peat smoke for the barley, Ranger Creek uses Texas mesquite wood. The mashbill used is actually Ranger Creek's Mesquite Smoked Porter beer, sans the hops, which is made from five different barley varietals. Rimfire is aged for 6 months in new, small American oak barrels. All whiskeys from their Small Caliber series are bottled in 375 ml sized bottles.
  • 7
    Smoky & Spicy
    Warbringer Mesquite Smoked Southwest Bourbon is made using mesquite-smoked corn and malted rye. This bourbon bears no age statement and finishes its aging in sherry casks before bottling at 49% abv.
  • 6
    Based in Tennessee, Corsair is constantly experimenting with alternative techniques and flavor profiles, but with well thought out approaches. In this case, they use three individually smoked malts as follows: cherrywood from Wisconsin, Beechwood from Germany, and peat from Scotland. Aged in 15 and 30 gallon new American oak barrels for an unspecified amount of time.
  • 5
    Whiskey Del Bac Dorado is the flagship whiskey of family-run Hamilton Distillers in Tucson, Arizona. It is made from malted barley which is smoked using native mesquite wood, rather than peat. It's distilled twice in a 500-gallon copper pot-still and aged in American white oak barrels.
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    Sweet & Fruity
    This peated bottling is a blend of two aged whiskeys distilled at Westland, one was from a peated malt mash and one was from a Washington pale malt mash. The whiskeys were aged a minimum of 2 years in a variety of casks which include heavily charred, new American oak; ex-bourbon barrels, and ex-sherry casks. Note: As of spring 2021, this along with the Sherry Oak and American Oak expressions are discontinued.
  • 3
    Full Bodied & Smoky
    The latest edition of High West Campfire now includes a parcel of self-distilled rye, as opposed to entirely sourced whiskeys. Components include straight rye whiskey from MGP (95% rye, 5% malted barley), straight rye whiskey made in-house (80% rye and 20% malted rye), straight sourced bourbon from MGP (75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley), and sourced blended malt Scotch whisky. The final blend is bottled at 92 proof and is released seasonally each year with the most recent edition hitting shelves in August 2022. Note: The entire core portfolio for High West received a makeover to the packaging so be on the look out for the updated labels.
  • 2
    Rich & Smoky
    Brimstone is a smoked corn whiskey. But it doesn't get its smoke from the barrel or from peat, it gets its smoky flavor from Texas scrub oak which is used to smoke the distillate prior to aging. This is a 100% Hopi blue corn whiskey made from mash-to-bottle at the Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas.
  • 1
    Spicy & Smoky
    This New Mexico distillery takes a decidedly Scottish approach to their single malt whiskey, yet is unmistakably American in its use of mesquite smoking, rather than peat smoking a portion of their malted barley. The whiskey spends a minimum of 2 years in new and used American oak barrels.