Independence Day: American Whiskey Recommendations

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

From Burns Night to Bourbon

In the UK, Burns Night on 25th January is synonymous with all things Scottish – including whisky. But as the popularity of whisky continues to grow across the globe, we are seeing the rise of American whiskey and its association with a key day in the US calendar – Independence Day.

Many will think of bourbon and rye when considering American whiskey, and the states of Kentucky and Tennessee in particular. But whiskey is made across the country and the US is the birthplace of the craft distilling scene, which is sweeping the globe.

In the latest of my American whiskey series, we take a look at some of the options on the market to try this Independence Day. Whether you are a Scotch whisky connoisseur or new to the world of whisky, here are four lesser-known suggestions to add to your portfolio and help you celebrate July 4th – from the traditional to the downright quirky.

What is Independence Day?

July 4th is synonymous with America and a huge annual national celebration. The day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. This established an early version of the United States as its own country, while also devolving rule from the United Kingdom, the British Empire and its reigning monarch, King George III. It formed the early basis of America as we know it now. By joining 13 British colonies, which now form most of the eastern seaboard.

The Declaration was drawn up by The Committee of Five. This consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman. The signing took place at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, although rumours persist that it was signed on August 2nd. The signatories were senior figures from each colony (or state) including George Washington, Adams and Jefferson. These would become the first three Presidents of the United States.

Four Whiskeys to Help Celebrate

Russell’s Reserve | 15 years old

This whiskey celebrates an American whiskey dynasty – the Russell family. It was originally bottled in 1998 for the official retirement of Bourbon Hall of Famer Jimmy Russell, who started distilling in 1954 and celebrates his 70th anniversary this year. His son, Eddie Russell, started in the industry during the 1980s and is also in the Hall of Fame too. He created Russell’s Reserve to honour his father. Eddie’s son, Bruce, is also waiting in the wings to take over.

Russell’s Reserve is a Kentucky bourbon made in small batches of 200 barrels or less. This new premium bourbon is also aged for a decade and a half – not many American whiskeys make it to such an advanced age. The extra years have added deep savoury notes – think of clove, nutmeg and tobacco – to classic bourbon characteristics like caramel, spiced fruit and oak. A stunning whiskey.

Uncle Nearest | 1856

This up-and-coming brand from Tennessee is named after Nathan Green, who played a major role in the history of its illustrious neighbour – Jack Daniel’s. Known as ‘Uncle Nearest’, he was the first African American Master Distiller in the USA. He nurtured a young Jasper Newton Daniel, nicknamed ‘Jack’ by his friends, taught him about distillation and set him on his way. The Uncle Nearest brand was created to honour Green’s legacy and heritage.

The Uncle Nearest 1856 commemorates the year that Green began distilling and is a marriage of maple charcoal filtered whiskeys, which have been aged for between eight and 14 years. Notes of vanilla, brown sugar and milk chocolate mingle with peach, apricot and dried grass. Further notes of maple syrup, cinnamon and caramel add depth and complexity.

Wild Turkey | Master’s Keep 10 years old ‘Triumph’

The award-winning and limited-edition Master’s Keep series from the iconic Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. As a result, the ‘Triumph’ is a 10-year-old rye whiskey – this is the oldest age-stated rye ever released by the brand, and only the second rye in the series. Rye whiskey is produced just three days a month at Wild Turkey.

The aromas and flavours are exquisite. ‘Triumph’ feels creamy and soft in the mouth, almost oily. Notes of fairground toffee apple, orange zest and milk chocolate combine beautifully with gentle warming spices. Think of black pepper, caraway and ground ginger – and a lovely herbal, menthol-like finish. This is rye whiskey at its very best.

Westland | Peated

This distillery is one of the true pioneers of the American craft whiskey revolution. Its goal was to make single malt, but not following the well-trodden Scotch single malt route. An innovative approach using five different malt types (six for this peated expression) gives the spirit wonderful depth and character. The distillery in downtown Seattle is a must visit if you are ever in the city. An excellent tour, tasting room and opportunity to fill your own bottle straight from a barrel awaits.

There are not many smoky American whiskeys, but this one is a revelation. And unlike most that are labelled as smoky, this uses peated barley. The peat is sourced from the neighbouring Pacific Northwest state of Oregon. Expect uplifting notes of green apple, citrus zest and toasted almond, which accentuate the deliciously drying and herbal peat smoke. A smoky dram, but not as you know it.


To find out more about the world of whisky and cask investment, get in touch with one of the experts at Whisky 1901.


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