The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This June
Including a uniquely American take on peated single malts and a 29-year old Bushmills
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Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month: A peated American single malt, two new Bushmills releases and, yes, green crab whiskey.
This San Jose, CA distillery — where the founders designed all of their own equipment — just released a peated malt whiskey that started out in first-fill, charred American oak bourbon casks, before some lots were finished in French oak Pinot Noir casks. The end result, which kind of reminds me of an American take on the excellent Benriach Smoky Ten and Twelve expressions — is peaty, juicy and fruity, with hints of cherry and even artisanal bacon.
Two completely different expressions from this long-running Irish whiskey maker — the first is part of the distillery’s Rare Casks collectors series, which is no surprise, with Bushmills having the largest stock of aging malt whiskey in Ireland. Only 500 bottles are available of this 29-year-old single malt, which spent the last 17 years finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. A very dark amber, it offers hints of toffee, raspberry jam, vanilla, biscuit and orange.
Meanwhile, Prohibition Recipe is a blend of 3-, 4- and 5-year-old whiskeys. The bottle is a recreation of the vintage Bushmills Irish Whiskey bottle used as a prop within several Peaky Blinders episodes. A spicier affair, it’s heavy on the cereal, citrus and biscuit notes; it’s fine neat but does well in cocktails. And it’s $720 cheaper than the 29.
Pinhook’s claim is that they showcase the best attributes of each year’s crop of barrels over a consistent flavor profile — making each year a unique release, much like wine. While only aged a minimum of two years, the 2022 vintage of Pinhook Rye is spicy and delicious, with notes of pear, cloves, apple and black pepper. A drop or two of water really opens it up (note that for a rye, there’s a good percentage of corn and malted barley in the mashbill).
Certainly the best packaging of the month — this is bottled in a Prohibition-era replica apothecary-style bottle — Chicken Cock’s KY Straight Rye Whiskey (95% rye, 5% malted barley) is finished in Caribbean rum casks. Tropical, grassy and spicy, you’ll get some notes of candied molasses here.
The first bottled-in-bond release from this Waco, TX, distillery, this five-year whiskey is made from roasted blue corn and matured in used tequila casks from Mexico. You’ll certainly get that roasted corn note, plus caramel, agave, citrus and a soft minerality. If you’re struggling with a summer whiskey drink, try this (as the brand suggests) in a salt-rimmed cocktail or neat with soda water and agave syrup.
And five more:
- The idea behind Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits is that each canned cocktail is tied to a celebrity (Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Playboi Carti, etc.). So yes, Parker’s drink is a Cosmo, while John Cena’s is a pretty decent Old Fashioned — not a lot of bite, but it’s a smooth sipper (and each can will get you the equivalent of two cocktails).
- The creators of those beaver sac and venison whiskeys (NH’s Tamworth Distilling) are now out with House of Tamworth Crab Trapper – Green Crab Flavored Whiskey, crafted from a 4-year old bourbon base and over 90 pounds of green crabs, plus a custom spice blend mixture “reminiscent of a low-country boil.” Described as a briny Fireball, the use of crustaceans here is for good, however: The green crab is an invasive species of crab wreaking ecological and economic havoc along the New England coast.
- The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co. began in 2014 as a way to whiskeys hidden away and forgotten in distilleries and rickhouses across the world. Their latest, Fable & Folly Finest Quality Whiskey Aged 14 Years, is not surprisingly wood-centric, with notes of oak, leather, and tobacco with some caramel.
- An interesting newcomer to watch: 15 STARS Fine Aged Bourbon, which just won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Their first release is Timeless Reserve, a marriage of Kentucky bourbons aged 14 years and older. It’s got hints of dark chocolate, oak, tobacco and coffee.
- Lost Lantern’s Summer 2022 Single Cask Collection, featuring seven single casks from six distilleries, goes on sale on June 8.
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