View Full Version : American malt whiskey distilleries?
In the past, we've discussed an ad that Mike Veach posted which mentioned pure barley malt and pure rye malt whiskey. I've been writing an article recently on all North American malts on the market at the moment. As things are moving quite quickly there, I intend to write an update before too long and would also like to include a wee bit of history. Does anyone know of specific American distilleries which made malt whiskey in the past?
Malt whisky (made from mashes of all-barley malt or both malted and unmalted barley) were made in the U.S. North East before Prohibition. One well-known brand was Duffy's, which was made in or around Rochester, NY. Today, some of the smaller (micro) distillers make whisky from barley malt mashes. McCarthy in Oregon is one. St. George in California is another, and probably there are two or three more. In Canada, Glen Breton is a single malt scotch-style whisky which tastes quite close to, say, Strathisla.
If it's a mix of malted and unmalted barley, it isn't malt whiskey. Was the Rochester whiskey you mention made from 100% malted grains?
As to present-day American malts: http://www.maltmadness.com/mm11.html#11-02
You are right of course. I don't see the difference as really significant because unmalted barley added to the mash gets malted before distillation (thus, use of all-malted barley is a kind of short-cut) so to me this is more a production detail than anything else, but if the frame of reference is solely pure malt whisky we must exclude the Irish-style pot stills that were certainly made in America. Byrn, in his 1870's distilling manual, gives a recipe for a whisky which is very similar to Irish pot still recipes, i.e., comprising raw barley, barley malt and sometimes other grains, so clearly such whiskies were made in the U.S. at the time. (You can buy the book at www.raudins.com (http://www.raudins.com)). As to Duffy's, I think it was an all-barley malt product but I am not sure. Many liquors in the U.S. before 1919 were blends (even if the labelling was not clear on the point). It is hard to say, at this distance from that era, how that whisky was made.
I found some pictures of (empty) Duffy bottles on the internet (including ebay) and the embossed text on the bottle says 'pure malt'.
See www.doctoryourself.com/history4.html (http://www.doctoryourself.com/history4.html) which is a short history of the effort to bring within the purview of food regulatory laws products that contained "rectified" whiskey (neutral spirit colored or flavored to resemble whisky). If I read this article correctly it seems there was doubt whether Duffy's was an all-malt product, i.e. that it contained some (at least) rectified spirit (neutral spirits).
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