Ten years ago American whiskey enjoyed a huge shift in status. Always respected among discerning drinkers, the spirit suddenly stepped up in general estimations, and Pappy Van Winkle was the Kentucky bourbon at the centre of the story.
An overnight sensation, ‘Pappy’ earned celebrity status in 2012 after pioneering barmen and chefs including Anthony Bourdain lauded the whiskey. Over time its Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year proved one of the more interesting investment opportunities, selling at around £25,000 a bottle. But Pappy was not unique, and American whiskies like LeNell’s Redhook Rye, or Rittenhouse Rye 25YO from the Heaven Hill Distillery were among others quietly earning legendary status.
A decade on, American whiskey is truly competing in the luxury stakes with Scotch and Japanese bottles. And when better than Thanksgiving to explore the very best spirits offered by distillers from over the Atlantic? As one whiskey-mad LA Times writer put it: “Something from the whiskey family may work even better at cutting through the holiday meal’s richness, and at soothing uncomfortable family exchanges across the table. Because if we’re being honest, most everything is made better by bourbon, including turkey and yes, even politics.”