American single malt definition could boost growth
The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) believes setting a standard for the category would boost growth for regional whiskeys nationwide.
Earlier this month, trade groups the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) and the ASMWC came together to propose a new definition to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for American single malt whiskey.
The ASMWC is a national association representing nearly 100 producers of American single malts.
The TTB was due to publish a new standard for the category in December 2021, according to the association.
Tom Hogue, director, congressional and public affairs of the TTB, explained: “At this point, we should be able to get something out in the very near term.”
Steve Hawley, president of ASMWC, considered how innovation would be carried out after a standard is established for US single malts, forecasting the growth of “regional whiskies”.
He said: “Since 2016, when we first sat down to draft this, innovation has been at the top of our mind. We all believe that the strength of American single malt whisky is innovation and creativity.”
A large factor for the space for innovation and creativity within the category is the country’s climate, explained Hawley.
“I would point to the diversity of America geographically, in terms of what creative direction holds more weight than others. Regional styles [of whiskey] are emerging within America,” he said.
“There is debate within our membership about whether that’s happening or not, whether it should happen or could happen. There is so much to explore within American single malt, so much which is yet to be discovered.
“Different distillers and regions are exploring in different ways – they’re all valid and proving to be delicious. It’s a pretty exciting time. This is the next big thing in whiskey.
“Out of any category I see out there now, it’s the most buzz-worthy thing.”
An ‘inclusive’ category
The meeting in 2016, held for distillers to draft the definition, took place in Chicago, US, and comprised a dozen distillers, including representatives from Copperworks Distilling and Westward Whiskey.
Jason Parker, co-owner and president of Copperworks Distilling, explained another reason that US single malts will leave space for innovation is its aim to be “inclusive” in setting a standard, while “traditional categories are trying to be exclusive”.
“With American single malt whiskey, we have the most innovation compared to other countries. We have more freedom,” he explained. “There’s a really big difference between US single malt and traditional categories in what we’re trying to do.
“It’s not often in this lifetime you get see the birth of a new category of whiskey, and this is happening right now.”