Whiskey Review: American Fifth Bourbon Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: American Fifth Bourbon Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by American Fifth Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

When one thinks of whiskey distilled in-state, Michigan is a relative newcomer to the game. While some of this might be simple marketing and branding of its southern neighbors, part of it also relates to arcane laws that were overturned relatively recently. In 2008, according to Michigan Live, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission made several big changes to distilling laws. They dropped the price of a micro distillers license significantly, from $10,000 to $150.

The site also mentions, “They also changed the rules about what you could distill. Prior to this, you could only distill fruit based liqueurs in Michigan. The change allowed distillers to distill whatever they wanted, which meant they could now produce anything from rum, to whiskey, to tequila and more.”

The result of these laws have resulted in a plethora of new businesses. Back in February, I reviewed Coppercraft, another Michigan distillery which opened in 2012.We’ve also featured a number of relatively new Michigan-based distilleries on the site, including Long Road, New Holland Spirits, Two James Spirits, and Gray Skies, so there’s obviously some action happening in the area.

American Fifth Spirits bills itself as Lansing, Michigan’s first distillery, opened in 2015. They use only Michigan-grown grains in their products, and offer four core beverages sold across the state: gin, vodka, signature malt whiskey, and bourbon. The bourbon won a gold medal in the “Craft Whiskey” category at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, making it the only gold medal-winning whiskey entirely crafted and distilled in Michigan.

American Fifth Bourbon Whiskey

American Fifth Bourbon Whiskey (image via American Fifth Spirits)

Tasting Notes: American Fifth Bourbon Whiskey

Vital stats: Made from 63 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, 12 percent malt, and 5 percent rye. It’s bottled at 90 proof and a 750 bottle will run you about $50. Only available in Michigan.

Appearance: Golden, but with a greenish cast. Like, right before the green flash of a sunset. It also reminds me of a well-worn banister, or bottom of a well-trod staircase on which someone has thrown a tattered seafoam green afghan.

Nose: Fresh paper, like a pulpy mill paper smell. But it’s kind of light and not really a powerful nose punch. It’s not very complex but on subsequent wafts, I also get Welch’s grape soda and Bubble Yum bubble gum, so also a little artificially fruity as well? Honestly, though, this is so light on the nose that someone could say any noun while I breathed this in and I would totally nod.

Palate: Very light! At 90 proof, it’s higher alcohol on the nose than on the palate. Upon sipping, I got a very pleasant, airy kind of earthy quality, and eucalyptus notes. On one hand, it’s not going to “ka-POW!” you with its funkiness or weirdness—but not all whiskies should. It’s very drinkable and light. Maybe a little dangerously drinkable. I liked this more than I expected, given its chemical nose.

The Takeaway


This is a pleasant and easy drink, And dangerous in that it goes down fast and it’s so light you don’t even realize you’re drinking it. It’s terrific for a warm weather cocktail; it won’t weigh you down at all. There isn’t massive complexity, but who wants that in the summer? All in all: It's a very nice companion who has lots of pleasant things to say.

User Rating 5 (1 vote)


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