In honor of the roving booze bacchanal known as WhiskeyFest—which is currently sipping its way through New York City, San Francisco and Chicago—let us put down our Scotch and Irish whiskies and consider the best new domestic pours. Noah Rothbaum, author of The Art of American Whiskey, did his patriotic duty by answering the call to name his latest five favorites. You're welcome, America.
Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Rye ($60):
"While Wild Turkey is famous for producing delicious bourbon—101 is my favorite shot to order for friends—the Kentucky brand has been making rye for decades, and has developed a cult bartender following. Its latest 104-proof, single barrel rye whiskey was just announced, and it won't disappoint ardent Wild Turkey fans."
Pikesville 6-year-Old Rye
"For years the only way to get some legendary Pikesville Rye was to go to Maryland, where the brand started. Fortunately, Heaven Hill, which now makes the whiskey in Kentucky, just released a new 110-proof, six-year- old version that will be sold nationally. You'll want to tell all your friends about this rye, which is great to sip on the rocks, and robust enough to be used in quality cocktails."
Michter's US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon ($53)
"Trust me, you don't want to open this quaffable Kentucky bourbon at a party, or you'll find yourself holding an empty bottle very quickly. This has actually happened to me. But, thankfully, I was able to snag one glass of this limited-edition whiskey, which is aged in a charred-oak barrel and finished in a second barrel made from toasted wood staves. Look for rich wood notes and a bit of sweetness."
Ragtime Rye American Straight Whiskey ($43)
"If you love rye whiskey, you'll want to make room in your liquor cabinet for the extra-smooth Ragtime Rye, which makes a delicious Manhattan. It hails from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and is wise beyond its year—unlike most of that area's hipsters."
Stranahan's Diamond Peak Colorado Whiskey
"I don't ski and I've only been to Colorado once, but after a few sips of this Denver-based whiskey—featuring hints of apple, pear and spice—I'm ready to jet to the Rocky Mountains and hit the slopes. After drinking this whiskey, of course."