We all love the Top 5, 10, and 100 lists. The legendary David Letterman was known for the crazy top 10 lists he presented on his show, and every musician dreams of having a song reach the Billboard Top 100 list. Distilleries, Wineries, and Cigar blenders get excited when one of their creations ends up on a Top list from their fans and publications.
However, every list can be subjective to the author’s taste or preference. Does the author like Ryes? Do they prefer old-world wines over new-world wines? When it comes to the world of whiskies, how does their profile differ from yours? As you read my Top 5 American Whiskies, you will likely ask yourself these questions.
In creating this list, I looked back to the whiskies I had tried throughout the year and which ones left a memory. I then went back to revisit several different whiskies, was that memory worth revisiting, looking for overall balance in the profile, and most importantly, was this a whisky that I found worthy of wanting to share with my friends? Ultimately, I had to narrow the list down to 5 whiskies. This was challenging; I eliminated some excellent expressions, such as Blue Run Golden Rye, Larceny Barrel Proof Batch B-251, and Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select. Once I had my selections narrowed down to the following 5. I returned to the memories, sat down with each of them individually, shared them with my friends, and began taking notes on the expressions themselves.
So, as I sit here with a dram poured, putting the finishing touches on this article, I present my top 5 American Whiskies for 2022.
Castle & Key Rye 2021 Batch 1
I know this is my top 5 whiskies of 2022; however, I am listing the Restoration Rye 2021 Batch 1 from Castle & Key here. What can I say? This Rye hits every single level for me, from proof to notes, spice to viscosity. I love a good solid Rye whiskey, and this one is one of my favorites.
Springy zesty citrus notes with subtle hints of vanilla and stone fruit
Crisp, sweet peaches, soft cream with a peppery finish
Medium-long finish with creamy, viscous mouth feel, finishing strong with warmth and spice
Penelope Architect Build 2
Penelope continues raising the bar with their expressions, and with the Architect Series, they have kept what is now a tradition going, as evident in Build 2. When Build 1 came out earlier this year, I knew I needed to grab a bottle. I was not disappointed; when Build 2 came out, I was on the hunt, finding it felt like I had just dug up a long-lost blueprint.
Classification: Straight Bourbon finished with French Oak Staves
Medium golden amber
Earthy woodsy notes with hints of citrus, herbal notes
Toasted oak with subtle hints of charcoal, and oily citrus, finishing with notes of sweet red fruit
Medium silky, creamy vanilla finish
Kentucky Peerless Double Oak Bourbon
When I walked into the distillery, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I had only ever tried a single expression from Peerless. On this particular day, Corky, the fourth-generation owner, was there signing bottles, so like any other bourbon fan, I got in line for a bottle and an autograph.
Oak, vanilla, nutty citrus, with white pepper on the finish
Long finish with creamy/buttery notes reminiscence of butterscotch
Milam & Green Single Barrel 13-year Straight Bourbon Whiskey
If you are unfamiliar with Milam & Green Whiskey, stop what you are doing, find a bottle, and familiarize yourself with their various expressions. And the next time you are in Blanco, Texas, a small town outside of Austin, stop in the distillery and grab a bottle of their Single Barrel Straight Bourbon.
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