In an America where bourbon rules above all else, it’s always unusual to see distillers branching out into different grains — namely malted barley.
Town Branch is the latest Kentucky distillery to release a single malt whiskey, and this expression of 100% malted barley even carries an age statement of 7 years. Let’s give it a whirl.
Most drinkers know American single malt as the product of craft producers, the whiskey usually aged in small, new oak barrels for an abbreviated amount of time. With seven years of aging time under its belt (probably in full-size new oak barrels), Town Branch Malt is a different animal than you’re probably used to.
The nose is quite soft, offering a range of aromas including tahini sauce, butterscotch, eucalyptus, green grass, and breakfast cereal. It’s got the aromatics of a young Scotch, and the palate offers few diversions. Malty with caramel and more sweet breakfast cereal overtones, the palate is lightly chewy but and reasonably woody (a sign pointing to new oak), but also quite sunny with a honey complexion, that sesame note lingering lightly on the back end. Scotch fans won’t find much that’s unique here, but it does acquit itself admirably against its across-the-pond brethren — and, it must be said, it puts most other American single malts to shame. With all that said, I found it quite delightfully drinkable, and the price isn’t bad, either.
Try serving a dram of this to your Scotch-loving friends and tell them it’s from Speyside. If anyone can call it out as American I’ll eat my hat. (I don’t wear a hat, but still, report back.)