The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This March
In time for St. Patrick’s Day, a 30-year expression from Bushmills. Plus, WhistlePig enters the bourbon world.
Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month, aged expressions make a big comeback at the some B-name distilleries (Benriach, Bushmills and Bowmore). Plus, some elevated options for St. Patrick’s Day.
Hercules Mulligan Eyr & Rye
Basically an intercontinental take on a Manhattan, this ready-to-drink bottle (the company is named after an unsung American Revolutionary War hero) is a blend of four spirits, including three American Rye Whiskies and one Irish Whiskey, with a touch of cherry bitters and all-natural sweet and sour cherry juice. Almost rose-colored in appearance, there is a bit of a cherry menthol flavor going on here, though the spice and herbal qualities of the rye do peek through, as does some chocolate (and the Irish whiskey provides some fruit and a creamy mouthfeel). It’s a unique take on a classic cocktail, but act fast: Flaviar is only producing 2,000 bottles in the initial launch.
Benriach The Sixteen
Speyside’s Benriach reintroduces a new take on their 16-year-old Scotch, which is now three-cask matured for at least 16 years in bourbon barrels, sherry and virgin oak casks. Benriach’s Global Brand Ambassador Stewart Buchanan told me this age is kind of a “sweet spot” for the single malt, and it certainly strikes a flavorful balance of apple, creamy malt, apricot, oak and honey.
Why Teeling Remains the Most Innovative Irish Whiskey Distillery
Two new U.S. releases showcase an unusual oak and a purple muscat cask finish
WhistlePig PiggyBack Bourbon
Known for their rye, Vermont’s WhistlePig tests a 100-proof bourbon, aged six years in char #3 barrels with a “super-high” corn mashbill (and, of course, a bit of rye). There’s a lot of caramel corn on the nose, while the vanilla and spicy oak notes really shine through on the palate, along with a hint of maple and herbal tea on the finish. It’s a rich mouthfeel and overall on the sweet side; it seems ideal for citrus and sour cocktails.
Bowmore Masters’ Selection Aged 22 Years
If the packaging isn’t quite as eye-catching as their last $75,000 collaboration, Bowmore’s latest team-up with Aston Martin certainly offers merit purely on taste (the packaging is pretty nice, though!). This Islay single malt marries two stocks: One distilled in 1997 and aged in American oak hogsheads, the other distilled in 2000 and aged in Sherry butts. Caramel, cocoa, tropical fruit and a hint of smoke come together here for a lovely sipper.
District Made Spirits
A recent rebranding from One Eight Distilling, this D.C. distillery features a rye-forward (as in Abruzzi rye from the Mid-Atlantic) lineup that includes not only bourbon and rye, but also vodka, gin and barrel-rested gin. As for the brown spirits: The Bottled in Bond bourbon — not quite available yet — is a rye-forward standout, but the actual rye release is also unique, with plenty of toasted rye on the palate but also notes of cherry cola, licorice, cinnamon and a hint of mint.
And five more:
- Sadly, Arcane Distilling shut down. Just launched last year, the Brooklyn craft brewery transformed beer into vacuum-distilled whiskey. The end result was unique and delicious (and took weeks instead of years) to produce. The end of this iteration of the distillery was due to “funding challenges and our current economic landscape,” as they note. The good news is that their website is still taking orders until inventory runs out.
- The GlenDronach just released Batch 11 of its Cask Strength series. This non-age-statement single malt is matured in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks; at 59.8% ABV, it’s got some kick, but also rich notes of toffee, honey, dark fruit and baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg).
- Bushmills is getting old: The Irish whiskey giants just launched two new permanent expressions: A 25 Year Old (matured in bourbon barrels and sherry butts for almost six years before finishing in first-fill ruby port pipes for 21 years) and 30 Year Old (matured in bourbon barrels and sherry butts for 14 years before finishing in first-fill Pedro Ximénez casks for 16 years). The former is luscious and almost dessert-like, while the latter is bold, full of wood spice and yet sweet.
- We love an Irish coffee with Teeling, so good news: The Dublin distillery has joined forces with Brooklyn-based Variety Coffee to craft the Teeling Small Batch Roast, a single-origin coffee selected and roasted to perfectly pair with Teeling in an Irish Coffee. This month, the coffee is available as part of a Teeling gift set on ReserveBar.
- Mardi Gras has passed, but Kentucky Owl just released a very limited run of its new Mardi Gras XO Cask Limited Edition Straight Rye Whiskey, an 11-year-old rye finished for a year in Bayou Rum XO casks. The end result is certainly a party: It’s full of nutmeg, toasted rye, cinnamon and allspice.
The Secret to Great Cocktails? Find Out in The Spill.
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