Unfortunately, malted barley is delicate and prone to lose its flavor in new oak, which is why Scottish distillers prefer barrels that once held sherry, port or bourbon.That's America! Full of innovation and ingenuity... and stupid, overreaching federal regulation.
To compensate, American distillers often start with a more robust, flavorful mash than a typical Scotch, which can better stand up to new oak, flavor that continues to shine through after the whiskey is bottled.
They also rely on America’s higher temperatures, and bigger temperature swings, to speed the aging process. “A hot day in Scotland is 75 degrees,” said Mr. Tate, of [contest winner] Balcones. “Seventy-five degrees isn’t even a hot day in January here.”
As a result, even Balcones, despite its peat and smoky notes, is unlikely to be confused with an Islay Scotch. “A lot of what we do is riffing on old traditions in new ways,” Mr. Tate said....
January 16, 2013
A single-malt whiskey from Waco, Texas beats all the Scottish competition blind-judged by British experts.
Single-malt whiskey distilling is now a big deal in the United States... despite the impediment of "a federal law, enacted in 1938, requiring that they be at least partly aged in previously unused oak barrels."