In the loosely defined category of American single malt whiskey, almost anything goes at this point it seems like. While it is hopeful there will eventually be a clearer understanding of what this category of whiskey actually should be, for now it is interesting to see innovation at work as different craft distillers take a swipe at it. One of the latest comes from Alabama in the form of the soon to open John Emerald Distilling Company.
This start up distillery, according to a locally published report, plans to launch what very likely is Alabama’s first single malt expression. It is being called a “hybrid between a scotch and a bourbon” in that it will be made like the former and barreled like the latter.
There’s not a lot of information up on the John Emerald website yet, but a look at its Facebook page tells a lot of preliminary details about what this single malt could be. You know how Alabama is known for its peaches, right? That will apparently be an influence in what’s coined at this point as “John’s Alabama Single Malt Whiskey.” The spirit will be distilled from its own blend of southern “pecan and peach wood smoked malted barley” that reportedly will give it “an excellent mouth feel with refined and well-rounded smoke notes.”
As the distillers tell the tale the single malt “will be matured first in new charred white oak barrels then finished with Alabama Norton wine staves to add a slight fruit finish to the spirit. A sip will reveal a slight upfront sweetness developing into vanilla notes from the oak barrel followed by a fruity finish from the wine staves while a backdrop of Alabama smoke flavor binds all the flavor notes together to make a true southern spirit experience.”
The aging statement for this whiskey looks to be 4 to 6 months of age in smaller 5 gallon barrels, which is said to be “roughly equivalent to 3 years in the standard 53 gallon barrel.” It will likely price in the $35 to $45 range for a 750 ml bottle when it comes available likely later this year.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...