Will Light whiskey actually have a light flavor and taste? The higher proof distillation reduces the amount of whiskey flavor that comes from the grain during fermentation and by using seasoned barrels for aging, less flavor is imparted from the barrels. This is as it should be because whiskey has less grain flavor and requires less barrel extractive to balance the total flavor.
In 1968, after extensive hearings the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Divisions (ATFD) of the internal revenue service decided that a new type of American whiskey should be authorized. The reasoning was that the American distillers should be provided with a class of whiskey made by methods similar to that used in producing Canadian and Scotch.
One of the problem posed by the product was what to call it officially. The natural extension of its reason for being in the first place suggested that it be termed American whiskey in keeping with the geographic nomenclature of the whiskey produced in Canada and Scotland. But obviously there were other American whiskey types of long standing that also were entitled to be called American whiskey. Instead, it was decided to use a term that was considered descriptive of the whiskey’s qualities Light whiskey was thus named . It became the first whiskey that was neither named by a geographical location such Scotch, Canadian, Irish nor by the basic grain used ,such as rye, corn nor by the production process employed, such as blended whiskey.
In describing the production of light whiskey, it is perhaps best to compare it to the methods used to produce existing types . There are two important differences between the new type and the other traditional American whiskeys. Light is distilled at more than 160 proof. It is aged in used or uncharred new oak containers opposed to the traditional aging process using new charred oak barrels only.
Further if light whiskey is mixed with less than 20 percent by volume 100 proof straight whiskey, the mixture will be designated blended light whiskey