The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This February
Including The GlenDronach's 50-year old single malt, possibly the year's best rye and a smoky maple newcomer via Vermont
Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month: A newcomer in Vermont, The GlenDronach’s oldest release ever and Uncle Nearest goes in-house.
“New” from the Highland distillery, the 50 Year is their oldest and rarest whisky to date. Distilled in 1971, this expression represents a milestone in the near two-hundred-year history of The GlenDronach Distillery. This single malt spent that time in rare Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, and then married for a final maturation in a single Pedro Ximénez cask. Just 198 bottles are available — so if you want one, it’ll set you back $25,000.
As for taste? We got a very small (one sip) sample to try. “This is such a special whiskey; less than 0.0001% of our whiskey will get this to age,” as Master Blender Rachel Barrie tells us. “It’s as rare as a 100-year old person.” She notes the almost Cognac-like qualities of the liquid — we also found it silky, fruity and featuring notes of cherry, dark chocolate, tobacco and espresso.
While they’re waiting for their own stuff to mature, Village Garage, a newly-opened distillery located in a former highway department garage in Bennington, Vermont, just announced its first release, Village Bourbon, made from Vermont corn and rye and aged 5 years in American White Oak barrels (this release is being made at another Vermont distillery, though it’s employing the same mash bill and locally-sourced grains). The core releases, which is butterscotch-y with a lot of toasted oak notes, is available direct to consumer, but we’d suggest visiting the distillery, as you can maybe grab a limited release Village Bonfire, which features a bit of smoked Vermont maple syrup and exponentially improves your Old Fashioned.
Yeah, National Irish Coffee Day was on January 25th, but it’s an ideal warm sipper all winter (plus, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up). And besides whiskey, Irish coffee needs to get the coffee part right. We love Teeling’s, so we’re up for this blend of Central and South American coffees, which is custom made to pair with Teeling’s small-batch spirit. (Note: You have to provide the whiskey.)
Even though they only launched in 2017, this Tennessee distillery has been racking up awards, opening doors and starting great conversations within the whiskey world. But like all new whiskey brands, they had to start off with sourced/blended product while their own stuff matured. Happily, the brand is finally ready to release several expressions that have been 100% distilled, aged and bottled as their own — while also announcing the launch of several new expressions, including Uncle Nearest Rye and Single Barrel Rye (bringing their portfolio up to seven bottles and four different recipes). We’ll have a talk with Master Blender Victoria Eady Butler, and a review of their first non-sourced whiskey (a distillery-only Master Blend edition) coming up this month.
The oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world just announced the permanent release of Bushmills 12 Year Old Single Malt Whiskey (previously unavailable here), along with the recent appointment of master blender Alex Thomas and a new look for their portfolio. As our writer Jacob Grier noted when he visited the distillery a few months ago, “In this one, the bourbon- and sherry-finished whiskey finishes for half a year or more in marsala wine casks, providing additional layers of fruit. It’s a welcome addition, rounding out the portfolio and offering a way to explore the complexities of barrel finishing more accessible than some of the older expressions.” (We agree, the dark fruit element is strong here.)
Released late last year, the latest limited-edition release from George Dickel General Manager and Distiller Nicole Austin is only available in Tennessee, Texas and California for $299. It’s a 100-proof, 13-year old rye; while lacking the ceramic bottling of a much-loved earlier release, this exquisite rye features notes of cloves, cherry, pepper and vanilla, with an almost oily mouthfeel. It’s an extraordinarily interesting release that’ll coat your palette long after your first sip.
(Speaking of Dickel, the distillery recently released the George Dickel x Leopold Bros Collaboration Blend, which combines Leopold Bros Three Chamber Rye with a never-before-released traditional column still rye from George Dickel.)
Other notable new releases:
- Glenfiddich just partnered with BlockBar, a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace for luxury wines and spirits, to release 200 exclusive Chinese New Year NFTs to consumers on February 1st to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
- Westland’s eighth annual Peat Week releases mark the last time the Seattle distillery will use boht the circus-themed bottlings and make these limited-releases from Scottish peated barley; from now on, they’ll be sourcing the peat locally.
- Barrell Craft Spirits just released BCS Gray Label 16 Yr Seagrass, which is two Canadian ryes that have gone through various maturations in Martinique rum, Madeira and apricot brandy barrels — this is fruity, juicy and about as close to a rum as a rye whiskey can get.
- Bowmore Masters’ Selection is a collaboration between the oldest licensed distillery on Islay and Aston Martin. It’s basically Fibonacci numbers come to life … well, come to spirits, that is. 61.8% of this new whisky is formed from a base of 21 year old Bowmore matured in first fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. The remaining parts are made up of exact ratios of each other, in line with the Golden Ratio theory, and includes Bowmore matured for over 35 years. Available now for $400.
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