4 Best American Whiskeys in 2022

By Bob Barnes

What is American Whiskey?

All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. American whiskeys are those that do not meet all of the criteria of the strict bourbon requirements of being distilled with at least 51% corn and aged in new charred-oak barrels distilled in the US; or are bourbons that have been blended with other spirits or barrels not fitting the definition of bourbon.

GAYOT’s Best American Whiskeys list features exemplary examples of those not qualifying as American bourbons but excelling in quality of production and flavor.

> Check out GAYOT’s Whiskey Guide.

1. Alternate Takes Volume 3

Dogfish Head Distilling Co. Alternate Takes Volume 3 Whiskey

Origin: Milton, Delaware, USA
Suggested retail price: $55 for 750 ml
ABV: 45%

Dogfish Head has distinguished itself as one of the top craft breweries in the U.S. and expanded into the spirits world with the opening of its Dogfish Head Distilling Company in 2015.

The third release out of its Alternate Takes Series (a lineup of premium, experimental whiskeys), a 90-proof limited-edition whiskey, is distilled from 100% pale malt and finished for 36-plus months in freshly emptied Dogfish Head American oak apple brandy barrels and Angry Orchard French oak apple cider barrels. Intricate complexities from the aging process include aromas of cinnamon and wildflower honey paired with flavor notes of fresh green apples, roasted chestnut and buttery, dry oaked Chardonnay.

The Alternate Take Series name is a nod to analog-aged musicians, who were known for recording various unique takes until a great record emerged. “Our Alternate Takes whiskey series is an ode of sorts to the mad chemistry of R&D distilling,” said Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Founder & Brewer. “Just like music, our off-centered concoctions are boundless, and each alternate take is another piece of the artistic journey.”

> For more information, visit the Dogfish Head Distilling official website.

2. Legent

Legent by James B. Beam Distilling Co.

Origin: Clermont, Kentucky, USA
Suggested retail price: $40 for 750 ml
ABV: 47%

This Kentucky bourbon/whiskey is redefined by the art of Japanese blending. Legent is a collaboration between two whiskey legends: Jim Beam’s seventh-generation Master Distiller Fred Noe and Suntory’s fifth-ever Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyu. Distilled in Kentucky from a mash bill of 77% corn, 13% rye and 10% malted barley, and aged in new charred American oak barrels, a portion is again aged in sherry and red wine casks where it picks up several unique flavors. Fukuyu then meticulously blends the secondary-finished spirit with more Kentucky straight bourbon, resulting in added layers and complexity.

Adding to the uniqueness is the fact that bourbon is not a spirit that is blended often, and this marriage of East and West brings flavors including candy sweetness and dark fruit with some spice thrown into the mix.

> For more information, visit the Legent

3. 8-Ball Chocolate Whiskey

8 Ball Chocolate Whiskey

Origin: San Diego, California, USA
Suggested retail price: $30 for 750 ml
ABV: 33%

For those that love chocolate and whiskey, this is a match made in heaven, as the flavors of both combine in every sip. But even those who love only chocolate will find a lot to like, as the chocolate flavor bursts forth and dominates in every sip. Founder/CEO Paul Thomas during his global pursuits discerned that the two most beloved flavors worldwide were chocolate and whiskey, and over the course of two years formulated countless batches of chocolate and whiskey combinations until 8-Ball Premium Chocolate Whiskey was born.

All-natural ingredients sourced from Madagascar, Indonesia and Mexico combine with Kentucky bourbon aged for two years in charred American Oak barrels. The result is a combination of subtle notes of oak, maple and vanilla merged with full-on chocolate flavor. This first American 100% all-natural chocolate-infused bourbon whiskey weighs in at 66 proof and is recommended to be sipped straight or in cocktails such as mudslides or spiked hot cocoa.

> For more information, visit the 8-Ball Chocolate Whiskey official website.

4. Westward American Single Malt Whiskey

Westward American whiskey

Origin: Portland, Oregon, USA
Suggested retail price: $74.95 for 750ml
ABV: 45%

First released in August 2017, this is produced at House Spirits in Portland, Oregon. This American Single Malt whiskey is distilled from local two-row pale malted barley that was fermented with ale yeast. It is double pot-distilled and aged in new, lightly charred American Oak barrels. Each bottling is comprised of several single barrels, typically five to six for each batch. The whiskey is non-chill filtered and bottled at 45% ABV.

The whiskey has a robust and fruity aroma with creamy vanilla and brown sugar notes followed by tobacco and leather. Flavors are well balanced, showing baking spice, stone fruit, sweet malt and dark chocolate evolving into a balanced and lingering finish.

> For more information, visit the Westward Whiskey official website.

Reviewed by Dirk Smits, GAYOT Wine & Spirits Editor