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Interest In U.S. Straight (Single) Malts Is Soaring

Interest In U.S. Straight (Single) Malts Is Soaring

Of all the knots used to tie two ropes together the Zeppelin Bend is the best bar none. And the chances are you have never heard of it, unless you are a nautical expert.

Amongst the blossoming category of U.S. Single Malts, the Zeppelin Bend is certainly amongst the best the craft distilling movement has to offer. And chances are you have never heard of it either.

So the Zeppelin Bend, as the name suggests, is a knot that was used to keep ships and crafts harnessed to the ground or their moorings. The good folks at New Holland Brewing and Artisan Spiritsin Holland, Michigan, have taken the name of this knot and given it to their premium Straight Malt. The knot symbolizes the close tie between their brewery and their distillery since many of the production procedures cross over into their whisky. The base of all single malt is essentially a beer or a brewers mash after all!

Zeppelin Bend is a Straight Malt that’s produced at the distillery from grain to glass, with the distillery located under the very same roof as the brewery. This is an awesome advantage in producing a great malt whisky as they utilise the same equipment that is used in the brewing process, mashing and lautering their washes in a 50 BBL brew house (BBL is a beer barrel unit) that was brought over from Germany.

They then ferment the wash with their in house ale strain of yeast under controlled conditions, which gives them a long cool ferment that lasts about 14 days. Once fermentation is complete they double distill this wash in a 600 gallon pot still that was built in 1934. The resulting distillate is then matured it new American oak casks with a heavy char for a minimum of 3 years.

All this work results in an awesome whisky that I would certainly rank amongst my top five craft american spirits!

Zeppelin Bend New Holland

The Nose: vanilla cream, rich caramels, cocoa, dark chocolate

The Palate: sweet malted grains, cararmal, deep vanilla fresh coconut

The Finish: clove spice

This is a dram that will take you to new heights in American whiskey: go along for the ride!

Another U.S. Straight (Single) Malt whiskey on the horizon comes from a distillery in Oregon with a down-to-earth name, Clear Creek Distillery, for the water that flows nearby.

Those of us out there that love Single Malt Scotch have most certainly been wooed by the incredible Lagavulin whisky. I have personally spent many hours hiding in my local pub from the miserable winter weather sipping on this intense whisky. Steve McCarthy, Founder and distiller of Oregon’s Clear Creek Distillery had a similar idea to mine. Whilst vacationing at a fishing lodge in Ireland and bad weather was keeping the fish away, what else to do but retire to the bar a try a few drams? He fell in love with Lagavulin 16 Year Old. This was all the catalyst he needed to create the McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whisky back in the early 1990’s.

He has done a great job creating an Single Malt that resembles the Lagavulin using peat-malted barley imported direct from Scotland. His early idea was born from an experience and was mainly for fun, a way to fill the gap in his main occupation of distilling fruit based eaux-de-vie. They don’t have ripe fruit all year round in Oregon. But over the years this Single Malt has received a lot of attention and acclaim and Steve McCarthy can’t meet demand even though he makes more and more every year: it always seems to be sold out. Aged for amazingly only three years in a combination of ex-sherry casks and air dried Oregon Oak barrels, the resulting whisky is awesome and drinks like a malt with much more maturity. I happily join the folks pouring the praise over this fine dram.

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whisky

The Nose: sweet malt, rich peat, savoury leafy aspect

The Palate: smoke and grain perfectly balanced

The Finish: lingering oak spice and a hint of pine.

These two whiskies offer an excellent way to experience, first hand, quality domestic single malts. Its not all about bourbon and rye any more, oh no!


About Author

I moved here from UK in February 2011 leaving my job as a community bobby in Surrey. By the end of May that year I had joined the team at Astor Wines & Spirits turning my love of Whisky & Wine into work. My first whisky love is single malt, which started as a 18 year old when my local Pub landlord introduced me to Macallan 12. I am also extremely passionate about American whiskey which is an amazing category. I love travel and have white water rafted in New Zealand, Argentina & Canada.