European immigrants arriving in America utilised the grains that were most readily available to them – rye, wheat, and corn – to create a new distinctive style of whiskey. This, combined with the use of only charred new oak barrels, gives American Whiskey the toast, spice, and vanilla sweetness it’s known for.
Three main types of whiskey are produced in America; Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye. And over 99% of whiskey is produced by just thirteen large distilleries. Ten of them are located in Kentucky, two in Tennessee, and one in Indiana.
American Whiskey Requirements
Governed by Title 27 of the US Code of Federal Regulations, conditions to label whiskey as American Whiskey are;
- American Whiskey has to be produced entirely in the United States
- The three main ingredients must be water, yeast and grain – typically rye, wheat, or corn.
- To be labelled as a specific type of whiskey the mash must consist of at least 51% of a particular grain. (ie. at least 51% rye mash to be labelled Rye Whiskey)
- Aged in charred new oak containers (although no minimum aging period is specified)