Raise a glass: Cedar Ridge single malt wins “Best American Craft Whiskey in Show”

Cedar Ridge Single Barrel shown at Iowa Chop House in Iowa City. -- photo by Eleanore Taft
Cedar Ridge Single Barrel shown at Iowa Chop House in Iowa City. — photo by Eleanore Taft
No need to travel far to get good whiskey. Swisher’s own Cedar Ridge Distillery announced yesterday that their Single Malt Whiskey was named “Best American Craft Whiskey in Show” and received the Double Gold medal at the 2016 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition.

The well-decorated whiskey, first released in April 2014, has received gold medals in a handful of other competitions as well, including the International Craft Spirits Awards and the North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition.

The distillery was started by Jeff Quint in 2005. Quint is part of long-time wine-producing family from the Mosel region of Germany. The family’s winery on the Mosel River has been operating since the 1700s. In 1881 the family settled in Iowa and continued to farm and distill for personal consumption.

In addition to producing a range of other spirits and wines, Cedar Ridge uses its own grains and small copper stills to create seven types of whiskey that have won awards in both national and international competitions. The family-owned and operated distillery only produces four barrels of whiskey a day and is only available in 14 states.

In 2014, Cedar Ridge experimented with crafting whiskeys with different flavor profiles by finishing them in barrels that had previously contained other spirits or wine. Some of the barrels are imported and some come from Cedar Ridge’s own wines. Last year, they began using a solera system, which means that whiskey from barrels with distinct flavors are combined, creating a complex blend for their single malt whiskey.

Quint attributes the single malt whiskey’s smoothness to the fact that the grain is fermented off, the whiskeys are double distilled barrels are aged in rooms that aren’t temperature controlled.

So how’s it taste?

Little Village got a hold of a glass of the whiskey at Iowa Chop House in Iowa City.

The whiskey is as light and clean as a lowland Scotch, malty and moderately smoky. It’s 80 proof so it doesn’t bite too hard. The combination of fresh, clean fruit, maltiness and oak makes it smell a little like eating a caramel apple while walking through a good hardware store. Subtle flavors lend a complexity that whiskey nerds will appreciate, but it’s not so funky that it’s inaccessible to the rest of us. Pairs well with sitting back on the deck.

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