Did We Sleep On 2021’s Best American Single Malt Whiskey?

Iowa Straight Bourbon Whiskey is undoubtedly Cedar Ridge's best-known product in the whiskey world.

Iowa Straight Bourbon Whiskey is undoubtedly Cedar Ridge’s best-known product in the whiskey world. Throughout the years, it’s become a standard-bearer for the corn-rich state, winning numerous significant whiskey prizes. While that whiskey is excellent, we’ll concentrate on a newer offering from a brand we slept on last year, an American single malt whiskey.

At the John Barleycorn Awards in 2021, Cedar Ridge’s American Single Malt The Quintessential was named “Best American Single Malt.” Given that the judges are some of the best industry people working today — both in production and in journalism — it’s a really important honor. I knew I had to dig into it and check if the whiskey lived up to the hype because I had a bottle on my desk. Let’s get started and see what’s all the excitement about.

The Top 50 Scotch Whiskies of 2021, ranked by popularity
Blended Scotch Whiskies: A Blind Ranking Of Affordability
From $30 to $500, we have our favorite Scotch whisky.
A clear winner emerged after we blind tested blended Scotches in the $40 range.
Between $50 and $60, the best bottles of Scotch whisky

The QuintEssential Signature Blend of Cedar Ridge American Single Malt Whiskey (Batch no. 007)
Is it possible to get a good deal on
46 percent ABV
The average cost is $60.
The Scotch:
It’s all about the grain-to-glass experience with this whiskey. The juice is manufactured entirely from Saskatchewan’s 2-Row Pale Malted Barley (the same material used in some of the world’s best craft beers). The whiskey is then aged for an unknown amount of time in ex-bourbon barrels. Before being vatted, the whiskey is aged in a combination of brandy, rum, wine, port, and sherry barrels.
The solera process is then used to make the whiskey mix, in which the vat is never fully drained before the next barrel is added.

Notes on Taste:

With a peach and pear feel on the scent, it leans into a malty banana bread with plenty of butter, cinnamon, and walnut alongside a hint of Almond Joy (but the good ones from a high-end shop). Light cream soda vibes (perhaps a light casparrila), and a mellow and creamy base of chocolate that isn’t black but not milky make up the taste, which is delicate and mild. There’s a wonderful sweetness in the mid-palate that’s somewhat apple with an apricot suggestion that mellows into a final note of chewy toffees with rum-raisin hiding in the tail.

The Bottle:

The bottle is a traditional Scottish single malt bottle, comparable to Diageo’s classics. The label is jam-packed with information, but it’s simple to understand: what you’re drinking, proof, and so on.

This is a fantastic sip of whiskey. In any taste test, this could arguably stand up to some pretty big brand malts from Scotland. I love it straight up, but with a drop or two of water, it really shines, with more of that chocolate, coconut, ginger, and malt showing up to play with this apricot jamminess that’s simply lovely.

90/100 — This is a nice rating. It isn’t fascinating or game-changing in any way. Possibly, nevertheless, as an American Single Malt. It’s really nuanced, and it has the impression that it could stand up against any unpeated scotch.
Is it the “best American single malt” of 2021? It’s certainly very high on the list, and I can see this winning the day easily in a blind taste test.

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