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The best bourbon and American whiskey from the IWSC 2020 (www.iwsc.net)

The best bourbon and American whiskey from the IWSC 2020

America is where to head if you’re a newcomer to whisk(e)y. Those rich, sweet notes of toffee, cinnamon and vanilla you’ll find in a good bourbon are the ideal introduction if you’re not quite ready to dive into harder-edged peaty malts from around the world.

But American whiskey is a lot more than just bourbon. If you like spicy styles, there’s full-on rye whiskey, packed with peppery notes of caraway and cardamom. For something softer, wheat or corn whiskeys hit the spot. And you’ll find single malts in the States, too, made with malted barley just like in Scotland.

American whiskey started off when farmers on the east coast realized that they could turn their excess grains into something special, and when tax increases forced them further south into Tennessee and Kentucky, an industry was born.

The big names in these two southern states – the likes of Buffalo Trace (pictured below), Maker’s Mark and a certain Jack Daniel’s – dominate, but there’s a new breed of American whiskey, and it’s not made in the traditional heartlands. In fact, you’ll find a whiskey distillery in every single US state.

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