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The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity, influenced by migrating nations from across the world. As such, its whiskey industry is a fascinating and complex one, which represents the range of regional differences found there.
The Irish were the original pioneers of American whiskey, and when they emigrated in their thousands from the old country, they brought their skills, knowledge and distillation techniques with them, to give them something to remind each other of home in the New World. This is why American whiskey goes by the Irish spelling, with the additional ‘e’, and why many traditional American whiskies closely resemble the original Irish style.
Today, there are several different types of American whiskey, and the styles and production techniques are now set out in US federal law, cementing a set of characteristics and production methods to preserve and protect the industry.
Corn whiskey, which is made from a minimum 80% corn in the mash and aged for a short period, is probably the most historic of the American whiskey styles, but others like rye whiskey, which is made from a minimum of 51% rye and aged in charred barrels, are growing in popularity among a new generation of drinkers looking for something unique, interesting and independently produced. Alongside these styles, we find Tennessee whiskey, which uses maple charcoal for sweeter notes, the softer wheat whiskies, the world-dominating Bourbon whiskies, and others which are peculiar to specific states and regions.