We are so close to having American Single Malt becoming an official, legally-defined whiskey category. That is good news because many distillers have been slowly coming into their own and proving their talents. American Single Malts don’t have to age nearly as long as Bourbon or American Rye nor as long as European whiskies.
In Wisconsin, we have some of the most fertile cropland in the country. If you head up to Door County, you’ll find drop-dead gorgeous scenery on top of that farmland. Door County is quite rural but also a tourist destination that attracts millions of people each year.
In Door County, a village called Egg Harbor is home to slightly over 200 people. Chris Roedl and his wife, Emily, founded Hatch Distilling Co. in August 2017. The Roedls were beekeepers, and as their hives grew in size and number, they dreamed of distilling their raw honey. They didn’t just think of mead; they were distilling gin and vodka from honey.
Hatch Distilling added brandy, liqueurs, Mezcal-style agave spirit, and whiskey to its repertoire. Most of everything is grown locally in Egg Harbor, and the Roedls do their own foraging, fermenting, distilling, aging, barreling, and bottling in-house.
Today I’m sampling Doc Wahl American Single Malt Whiskey. It begins with three varieties of malted barley and is aged in new American oak barrels for at least two years. Packaged at 90°, a 750ml bottle retails for about $40.00.
Who was Doc Wahl? Robert “Doc” Wahl was born in Milwaukee in 1858 to German immigrant parents. He studied chemical engineering in Hanover, Germany, and earned a doctorate in philosophy. He then moved back to the United States.
Doc Wahl invented gelatin used to clarify beer, and that discovery guided him to found the Scientific Station for Brewing of Chicago with his partner, Max Henius. Wahl traveled back and forth between Chicago and Germany and introduced the American brewing industry to using pure yeast. Doc Wahl was considered the Godfather of American Brewing.
Unfortunately, with the passage of the Volstead Act and Prohibition, Wahl’s brewing businesses were shuttered. Wahl then moved to Door County and became a bootlegger for the next 13 years.
Now that you know the background, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this whiskey is all about. But first, I must thank Hatch Distilling Co. for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this single malt looked like liquid gold. A thicker rim formed on the wall and released wide, slow tears.
Nose: Doc Wahl was extremely aromatic while I allowed it to rest. Fruity malt notes escaped the mouth of the glass, reminding me of apples and pears. As I brought it to my face and inhaled, the fruit dissipated while the malt flourished. Caramel and oak tried to grab my attention, and even beneath that, there was something floral. When I breathed in through my lips, peach rolled across my tongue.
Palate: Out of nowhere, a dark chocolate-covered expresso bean exploded in my mouth before I could even ascertain this single malt’s weight or texture. On the second sip, I nailed down an oily, medium-weight mouthfeel. The front and middle consisted of chocolate and expresso. The back hinted at caramel drizzle added to the coffee, then black pepper and oak followed. I could swear there was a splash of vanilla creamer.
Finish: There are long finished, and then there are freight trains. Doc Wahl possesses one that traveled for miles before coming to a halt. It was a blend of chocolate, expresso, and black pepper.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I am not a coffee drinker, but despite that, I kept coming back to additional pours of Doc Wahl. I will say this much; if you enjoy expresso, you’re going to go ga-ga for this American Single Malt. If you’re less into coffee (like me), you’ll still find this one exciting and attention-grabbing. The pepper at the end adds a complementary layer that simply works. And, yet, the nose gave no hints as to what the mouth would expect.
The $40.00 price is at the sweet spot for authentic craft whiskey, bolstered more so by its stated proof. I loved Doc Wahl American Single Malt. I believe you will, too, and that means it has earned every bit of my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.