The Future. Single malt whiskey may soon be as American as Tennessee whiskey and bourbon… at least when it comes to government protections. A final vote to determine government-protected distinctions (yes, there’s such a thing) for the alcohol is imminent and may soon set up another major spirit class in the US that could shake up the whole industry.
Whiskey distillers are fighting to give American-made single malts a government-protected stamp of legitimacy.
- The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, which consists of 104 members, is awaiting a final decision from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on a proposed set of guidelines to give single malts a “Standard of Identity.”
- The Standard of Identity would give single malts the same regulatory protection and legitimacy as bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye.
That approval would give American distillers a leg up in breaking into the global market for single malts, which is currently valued at $2.8 billion… and is expected to hit $4.1 billion by 2030. That’s good news for everybody from Jack Daniels to Bear Fight Whiskey, who are all developing their one single malts.
So, what will make a single malt in America similar to those created by its Scottish counterpart?
- The proposal states that they would have to be made using malted barley and be produced at a single distillery (but using whiskeys from different casks).
- But, there’s no age requirement, which may actually hurt its chances in the market, where single malts are deemed more valuable the longer they are aged.
Nonetheless, American distillers say that the outsized temperature changes and elevation levels in the US help the spirit to mature much quicker than in Scotland.
But single-malt enthusiasts may be the final arbiter of that.