From the spicy hit of a rye to the sweet finish of a bourbon – ambers from the land of the bald eagle make for a delicious sipping experience. We’re exploring a few bottles of American whiskey in India that are worth an addition to your home bar.
Over the years – since the arrival of craft distilling in the nation – America’s relationship with whiskey has grown from strength to strength (pun intended). In fact, the former president George Washington owned his own distillery and the beverage ruled the roost across speakeasies during the Prohibition era. Today, despite Ireland and Scotland having all the spotlight on them when it comes to whiskey production – it’s bottles from the US that make it to the shelves of bars and restaurants. You might even spot a single malt whiskey – typically associated with scotches – with an American label.
American whiskey – matured in new oak barrels as opposed to the traditional used barrels – is made predominantly with corn, followed by rye, wheat, and malted barley. These give the malts sweet notes of vanilla, coconut, caramel, toffee, and wood that work well with cocktails and desserts. And whether you’re looking to hone your bartending skills or are just keen on switching up your dram ritual, these bottles are safe bets. Best part? They’re easy on the pocket as well. Here’s looking at a few available in India that are on our radar.
Check out our complete guide on whiskies in India
Add these smooth American whiskeys to your at-home collection
Templeton Rye Whiskey
Considering it’s been in the whiskey game since the Prohibition era in Iowa, Templeton has quite the stellar reputation. Their bottles come with a certain legacy attached to them as well. This particular six-year-old expression was first released in 2016 and is their flagship. Charred in new American oak barrels – every sip comes with a distinctive burnt sugar flavour and bold oak notes. The whiskey pours light copper with hints of spice, flowers, butterscotch, cherry, green apple on the nose. The finish is long, with a light mouthfeel. Savour this one neat, with a splash of water, or in an Old-Fashioned cocktail.
Price: Rs 9,000 approx.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
With the reputation for being one of the first to make fine bourbon – in 1812 – Woodford Reserve Distillery is a historic landmark. Naturally, they know a thing or two about whiskeys. Their Kentucky Straight rendition comes with over 200 flavour notes – bold grain, wood, floral, sweet, spicy, and more. In particular, there’s a distinctive rich dried fruit flavour with hints of oranges, mint, cocoa, caramel, cinnamon, vanilla, and tobacco spice. The flavour is rich and rounded while the finish is smooth and long. To really elevate these flavours, fuse the amber with lemonade and cranberry juice.
Price: Rs 6,000 approx.
Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon
With over 50 years of experience to their name, the good folks over at Maker’s Mark know their way around quality whiskeys. This particular expression is handmade – from start to finish – including the bottle being dipped in the iconic red wax by hand. The bourbon is smooth and approachable – made slowly in small batches in Loretto Kentucky. It pours a rich amber with hints of oak, caramel, and winter wheat on the nose. Every sip, meanwhile, is reminiscent of vanilla and fruit with the finish being smooth and subtle. Have this on the rocks or indulge in a fun cocktail creation.
Price: Rs 7,400 approx.
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon
For over 200 years, this brand has been producing whiskey on the banks of the Kentucky river. Their Kentucky Straight expression is their signature and pours a deep amber. Every sip is complex, with hints of vanilla, mint, and molasses. Also featured are notes of brown sugar, spice, oak, toffee, dark fruit, and anise. The finish, meanwhile, is long and smooth with a certain depth that will have you going back for more. Like others on this list, the whiskey lends itself well to cocktails but can be enjoyed with a splash of water as well.
Price: Rs 5,000 approx.
Jack Daniel Tennessee Rye
You’d be hard pressed not to come across a bottle with this name in any liquor store around the world. Jack Daniel happens to be the best-selling American spirit, with a stronghold across bar and restaurant menus as well. Their rye rendition comes from a time-honoured charcoal mellowing process – an addition to the production process that gives it a bold and spicy flavour. Smooth and flavourful, each sip comes with notes of caramel and spice. On the nose are hints of fruit and oak. When in doubt, this one’s a dependable option.
Price: Rs 3,000 approx.
Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon
Combine a legacy brand (1795) with an age-old recipe passed down generations (straight from their great-great-grandfather) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for smooth whiskey. Jim Beam is an affordable, popular brand. Their Kentucky Straight number is medium bodied, aged for four years in American white oak barrels, with a smooth and elegant quality. Every sip is reminiscent of caramel, vanilla, oak, apple, and cinnamon. It also has no additives. Enjoy it in cocktails or with equal parts apple juice.
Price: Rs. 3,090 approx.
Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey
One of America’s best-selling whiskies – this was originally titled ‘Wild Turkey 81; by master distiller Eddie Russel. These ambers are aged in American white oak barrels with a level four alligator char – which comes from burning the barrel for a few seconds. This imparts a deep flavour and colour to the whiskey. Every sip is reminiscent of sweet vanilla, pear, and spice and the finish is full and rich. You could either have it neat, on-the-rocks, or with a mixer. In fact, a classic way to enjoy this one is to top it with ginger ale and garnish with a lemon wedge.
Price: Rs 3,030 approx.
Bring your bottle of American whiskey to a party! These ambers are fun to experiment with and are easy-to-drink – making them a hit with almost anyone. And as always, drink responsibly. Cheers!
All images: Courtesy brands/Shutterstock