The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This January
New Year, new you, new whiskey from Barrell, Booker’s, Chicken Cock and more (plus one intriguing dry option)
Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month, we catch up on some last-minute releases from 2022 and profile a new dry option for brown spirits fans who might be observing Dry January.
Available for pre-order, this collaboration between the Vermont distillery WhistlePig and Sunkist Citrus is a line of ready-to-drink Old Fashioneds, available in both boozy (35% ABV) and dry variations. Featuring WP’s rye whiskey (or rye non-whiskey), barrel-aged maple syrup and Sunkist Orange Essence, these are very orange-forward variations on the classic drink, though suffused with oak and rye spice. Proceeds from sales will go to Turning Tables, a non-profit that “cultivate[s] leadership, create real opportunity and change the face of hospitality by establishing a model and standard for equitable access for the Black & Brown hospitality community of New Orleans.”
The latest from Chicken Cock (a whiskey brand that dates back to the 19th century and was revived in 2012) is a Kentucky straight bourbon finished in French Cognac barrels and bottled in a Prohibition-era Chicken Cock replica apothecary-style bottle at 112 proof (56% ABV), featuring a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley. Why Cognac? It seems that CC originated in Paris, KY, which was named in honor of our French allies during the Revolutionary War. A lot of butterscotch candy notes here, with a hint of raspberry and a fair amount of rye spice and tobacco.
So what if you just combined all the bourbons? New Year 2023 is a blend of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10-year-old straight bourbon whiskeys that were distilled in Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wyoming, New York, Texas and Maryland. Given all that, the result is a rye-forward release full of wood, spice, caramel, citrus, coconut, vanilla, sandalwood and molé (the last one is their tasting note and that’s pretty accurate), with a spicy dry finish.
The terroir-driven Irish whiskey distillery resurrects a rare barely from the mid-19th century for its latest release (all that was previously left of “Hunter” was a 50-gram bag in the seed bank of the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine). With that barely now resurrected in a ten-acre lot and the resulting whiskey matured in a combination of 45% first-fill U.S. oak, 19% virgin U.S. oak, 21% Premium French oak, and 15% Vin Doux Naturel, this release is full of dark cocoa and biscuit notes, plus a real earthiness and a dry finish.
The name’s certainly eye-catching, but this single-grain, cask-strength wheat whiskey from the Michigan-based distillery also has accolades: It recently won three major honors at the 2022 ASCOT Awards (including Whiskey of the Year). A 100% wheat whiskey at 58.5% ABV, this limited-edition expression — which earned its name because Journeyman is located in a former 1800s corset and buggy whip factory — is bright, soft and toffee sweet, with a wonderful jammy fruit note and a bit of spice on the finish.
Old Elk 2022 Infinity Blend
Jefferson’s Reserve Twin Oak Extra Aged at Sea
Mortlach Midnight Malt
Booker’s Bourbon “Pinkie’s Batch”
St. George Lot 22
And five more:
- Old Elk 2022 Infinity Blend is a marriage of three Old Elk releases (including the 2021 Infinity Blend) and two Kentucky straight bourbons (aged 12 and 13 years). Toffee, cocoa, almond and cherries dominate this surprisingly approachable blend, which comes in at 114.1 proof.
- Jefferson’s Reserve Twin Oak Extra Aged at Sea is a distillery exclusive — and the lottery to get a bottle is already over. This limited release is finished in proprietary barrels that were flash-charred and grooved out, providing more surface area for the bourbon to come into contact with the oak (and then put through the usual Aged at Sea process). This one features an oily mouthfeel, a lot of caramel and a good amount of wood spice.
- Mortlach Midnight Malt is a 30-year-old Scotch distilled in six stills precisely 2.81 times (don’t ask us how), eventually split to finish in Bordeaux wine, Calvados and Guatemalan rum seasoned casks and then finally married in custom quarter casks. That fanciness comes at a cost: Around $5,000, with only 350 bottles available.
- The fourth and last 2022 release of Booker’s Bourbon is “Pinkie’s Batch,” master distiller Fred Noe’s homage to his grandfather. As per the distillery’s usual M.O., this is a barrel-strength bourbon, bottled uncut and unfiltered. Vanilla, tobacco and caramel dominate the palate here, with a nuttiness on the nose that’s a bit different for Booker’s.
- The mashbill for the St. George Lot 22 single malt—which uses various roast levels of two-row barley (pale malt, crystal malt, chocolate malt, black patent malt) and Bamberg malt (unroasted barley smoked over beech and alder wood) — has been unchanged since Lot 1, first released in 2000. This Lot incorporates used Kentucky bourbon barrels, used Tennessee whiskey barrels, and both American and French oak via apple brandy, port, and California Sauternes-style casks. This year’s release features notes of cocoa, biscuit, honey, pears, coffee and coconut.
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