Scotch Whisky is made only in Scotland, but in recent years American distilling trailblazers are giving the Scots a run for their money by creating exquisitely crafted spirits from local barley. The parameters for single malt whiskey are simple – it must be produced at a single distillery using 100 percent malted barley. Add “American” to the definition, and a whole new category is born.
Omaha is fortunate to be home to distiller Zac Triemert of Brickway Brewery & Distillery. After finding his chosen microbiology and chemistry profession to be unfulfilling, he travelled to Scotland where he earned a master’s degree in brewing and distilling. Bucking tradition in an effort to honor his teachers, Triemert favors the traditional Scottish spelling (dropping the ‘e’) on Brickway bottle labels.
The local distillery boasts several award-winning options, but the Brickway American Single Malt Whisky, made with malt from nearby Colorado, remains a favorite with fragrant hints of caramel and vanilla, and the delightful Sherry-Cask Aged Single Malt has enchanted many a whisky skeptic with its smooth, sweet easy-drinking profile. This year saw the release of a 5-year aged American Single Malt Whisky so smooth it belies the 100-proof bottling.
Distilling whisky takes time, so when a product is released, it’s special. Producers can differentiate their whiskey through aging materials, water, and distilling methods such as Omaha’s Cut Spike Single Malt Whiskey – made from limestone-filtered water sourced from the Nebraska Sandhills, Clear Creek Distillery’s McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt, or the unique and flavorful Courage and Conviction offering out of the great state of Virginia.
The best way to learn about whiskey is to taste whiskey, and a great place to do so is at Omaha’s own Whiskey Fest held at Hilton Omaha in the historic Old Market. Postponed to September 24 of this year, the event attracts hundreds of vendors, many offering high quality American single malts.
Triemert is optimistic about the future of American single malts and predicts the category will see tremendous growth soon. His personal wish, “I can’t wait until whiskey drinkers talk about whiskey in the way they talk about Bourbon.” Cheers!