Hearing the words ‘Single Malt’ definitely produce Scottish associations in all our minds, whether we like to admit it or not. It may be true that Scotch whisky paved the way for decades when it came to producing and popularizing some impeccable single malts, but the world has changed since then.
Purists and petulant whisky-people do spend an agonizing amount of time arguing the superiority of whisky from one region over another but ask any whisky veteran worth their salt, and they will tell you geography amounts for nothing when it comes to whisky.
A fine single malt can be distilled just about anywhere in the world, and over the years, the whisky industry has witnessed a number of champions come forth and to prove it right. Whisky makers all over the world, whether it’s Japanese Whisky, India Whisky or America Whiskey, have evolved over the years, perfecting the art and craft of distillation, maturation and blending.
Check out these fine examples of single malt whiskies that aren’t Scotch but deserve all the accolades they can get for producing a spirit that has the potential to leave you speechless!
Nikka Yoichi Single Malt
Released as a replacement for all the other Yoichi single malts in the market earlier, Nikka Yoichi single malt is an incredible no-age-statement release from Nikka. A blend of single malts of a number of different ages, it carries all the pleasant characteristics associated with the Yoichi Distillery, the first one built by Nikka founder and the Father of Japanese whisky, Masataka Taketsuru.
A surprising balance between a peaty, maritime character typically associated with Islay single malts, and a splendid array of fruity flavours with mild spice makes the Yoichi Single Malt one of the landmarks of the Japanese whisky scene. A definite recommendation for whisky enthusiasts who enjoy expanding their horizons beyond Scotch and Bourbon.
Amrut Single Malt
When Amrut debuted nearly a decade ago, it was not only the first ever Indian single malt whisky but also forced the world to stop and take notice. It was the catalyst behind a growing movement in India, proving the existence of a market for quality Indian-made single malts.
It created ripples in the worldwide whisky community, acing a number of blind taste tests and impressing critics in the land of Scotch whisky itself. Amrut Single Malt ended up releasing a string of expressions over the years from heavily peated to cask strength, but the original Amrut Indian Single Malt remains the benchmark for all Indian single malts in the future.
Teeling Single Malt Irish whiskey
There aren’t many single malts among Irish whiskeys today, and among the few that exist in the market today, Teeling Single Malt is definitely one of the most refreshing. This is a no-age-statement single malt with a character more complex than many single malts in the market, Scotch, Irish or otherwise.
Blended with five single malts aged in five different ex-wine barrels respectively; Sherry, Port, Madeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and White Burgundy, the Teeling Single Malt is an explosion of fruity flavours and aromas. If you’re ever going to give an Irish single malt a shot, this is one whisky that deserves it.
Yamazaki Single Malt
The Yamazaki Distillery is the first ever whisky distillery built in Japan, and is now also the oldest continuously functioning facility. It was the brainchild of the two most important men who built the Japanese whisky industry together, Shinji Torii and Masataka Taketsuru (who would go on to establish Nikka Whisky).
The Yamazaki 12 Year Old is a fantastic Japanese single malt with an overwhelmingly flavourful fingerprint whisky, finished in ex-Sherry butts with the rest of the whisky spending some time in rare Japanese Mizunara oak and American oak. The Yamazaki 12 has sustained its popularity ever since it first graced the market in 1992, and deserves a spot on your whisky bucket list.
Westward American Single Malt Whiskey
Not many would expect a single malt whiskey from America, the land of Bourbon, Rye and Tennessee whiskey but the Westward American Single Malt whiskey is slowly, but definitely carving a niche for itself. It is unclear why no American distillery has tried to mass produce a quality single malt, but if anyone had to do it, the people at Westward are doing it right.
Released in 2017, this no-age-statement single malt is double-distilled in Oregon where the winters are cold, and the summers unforgiving. With a 100% malted barley mash bill, Westward mature their spirit in lightly charred new American oak barrels to produce a damn fine American single malt. Sweet, fruity and with notes of creamy vanilla, grab a bottle of Westward single malt before it gets too popular.