The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This August
Including a Fibonacci-inspired rye and a $65,000, 72-year-old single malt
Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y.
This limited release from the Illinois distillery — which has already crafted cool collabs with the Flaming Lips and Alice in Chains — celebrates the 21st anniversary of the debut album from indie rock icons Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Featuring label art inspired by the band’s logo, this is a blend of FEW Bourbon finished in rum barrels, FEW Bourbon finished in vermouth barrels and a mesquite-smoked wheat whiskey. Honestly, I’d say it does a fine job imparting all of those flavors — it’s a bit grassy, but also kind of like a funky, slightly smoky Boulevardier.
A sister brand to Barrell Craft Spirits, Stellum’s very unique releases include Equinox (where the whiskey blenders “slowly layered in rare sets of bourbon barrels until the evening of the Vernal Equinox, when the blend was completed in honor of the changing seasons”) and Fibonacci, where six separate rye blends were combined in accordance with the Fibonacci sequence, which, by definition, is a series of numbers, each the sum of the two previous numbers. Confusing, but here’s the real deal: The bourbon has a nice praline note along with wood spice and raspberry jam, while the rye is peppery with hints of cloves, cinnamon and a bit of toffee.
Speaking of Barrell…this is a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys (a marriage of high-rye and high-corn barrels ranging from 5-9-year-old barrels) distilled and aged in KY, IN and TN, and bottled at cask strength (116.6 proof). Brown sugar and pineapple on the nose, with a fruitiness that continues on the palate (along with butterscotch and baking spices) and a finish that features an unexpected minerality.
This Vermont-based distillery, led by a former automotive, aircraft, and fiber optics engineer, utilizes local ingredients and a proprietary vacuum-based distillation process (we’ve seen more of that recently). What you end up with is a line of maple bourbons and ryes, as well as a honey bourbon. They’re easy drinkers and admittedly maple-forward, but the Sapling Double Barrel Bourbon utilizes a higher proof and a second maturation in American oak, which balances out the sweetness. Save this one for fall.
With American Single Malt on the precipice of becoming an official whiskey spirits category, it’s time to taste some of the best ASM offerings. Start with this award-winning Lovingston, VA-based distillery, which just started rolling out two new cask strength whiskies: Courage & Conviction Bourbon Single Cask and Courage & Conviction Sherry Single Cask. Don’t be scared off by “cask strength” — there is a softness here and the barrels add real depth to these single malts.
And five more:
- The Balvenie just released its first new expression in its Cask Finishes Range in 10 years: The Balvenie French Oak 16-Year-Old, a single malt finished in casks that previously held Pineau wine from the French Charentes vineyards.
- Woodford Reserve released its annual limited-edition, high-proof expression — Woodford Reserve Batch Proof, which comes in at 118.4 proof (the standard WR is 90.4). The oak here is very present, but a drop or two of water certainly tames this into a strong sipper.
- Old Forester The 117 Series – Whiskey Row Fire is the fourth bottle in the distillery’s 117 Series (launched last year), which honors the 7th anniversary of the fire on Whiskey Row that nearly destroyed the historic Louisville block. The bourbon comes from barrels that the Louisville Fire Department chose in 2020. There’s an unrelated bit of heat on this release, which nicely balances caramel, oak, coconut and dark fruits. With Master Taster Jackie Zykan just having left and this release only available at the distillery (and good luck with that), this is definitely a collector’s item.
- Gordon & MacPhail just released its last cask laid down in the 1940s from Milton Distillery, which today is known as Strathisla. The 72-year-old expression (!) was matured in a first-fill Sherry puncheon, and if you have a spare $65,000, you might be able to pick up one of the 180 bottles. Heavy tobacco on the nose, plus notes of pear, lemon, apple nutmeg. From the two sips we were able to have, this is sublime.
- MF Libations is the brainchild of celeb couple Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton Morgan (also of Mischief Farm and in collaboration with The Vale Fox Distillery). Inspired by their Hudson Valley surroundings, the brand just launched a blackberry gin and MF Bonfire Smoky Rye Whiskey, the latter of which is a two-year-old smoky rye infused with Lapsang Souchong tea — they call it “sweet heat” and it’s definitely built for sipping around a campfire, with the sweetness balancing out the smoke.
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