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American Single Malt May Soon Be an Official Designation

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While many consider “single malt” to be synonymous with “Scotch,” by the end of 2022, American single malt whisky will likely become an officially regulated category.

And yes, it may be spelled “whisky,” not “whiskey,” as is standard for most American-made whiskeys. Just like Scotch and Japanese single-malt counterparts are whiskys.

A Long Path to Recognition

This development has been a long time coming. As the number of craft distilleries grew, particularly during the past 20 or so years, many began to develop single malts.

In 2016, producers banded together to create a trade group, the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC). The initial group of 70-plus, distilleries called for the category to be protected by the U.S. government, alongside rye or bourbon.

Three years later, a coalition that included the ASMWC and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) urged the Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to establish a standard of identity for American Single Malt Whiskey.

The pandemic stalled progress, but the coalition, which grew to nearly 100 single-malt producers, again petitioned the TTB in April.

“This new standard will establish trust in the category, clarify label declarations, and equip consumers with the necessary information to make informed purchasing decisions,” the coalition stated at the time. 

New Category in Progress

On July 29, the TTB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which started the process to establish an American Single Malt Whisky designation.

“This is great news for U.S. distillers and consumers,” says Chris Swonger, DISCUS president and CEO. “The formal establishment of standards of identity for American Single Malt Whisky is a clear recognition that this rapidly growing category is unique and deserves to be defined and protected as a distinctive product of the United States.