The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This February

Including a 115-proof Texas bourbon that’s like dessert in a glass. Plus: A whiskey goes to space.

four bottles of whiskey that we like being released on or around February 2023
Some of our favorite whisk(e)y of the month
Photo illustration

Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month, we get a head start on Irish whiskey and commend doubled-oaked bourbons and rum-finished ryes.

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea
Garrison Brothers Balmorhea
Garrison Brothers

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea

We’re just catching up with this 2022 limited release, a 115-proof Texas straight bourbon that’s double oaked: It spends four years in a new American white oak barrel, then another year in a different new American white oak barrel. A major award winner (the distillery estimates it’s taken home 40 award wins since 2019, ten of which were Gold or Double Gold medals), Balmorhea — named after a swimming hole south of Pecos, TX —  is almost like fudge on the nose, with that cocoa sweetness carried through the palate (along with notes of cinnamon, honey, toasted oak and dark fruit). Like dessert in a glass.

Westland Garrryana 7th Edition
Westland Garrryana 7th Edition
Westland Distillery

Garryana Edition 7

Seattle’s Westland Distillery just released the seventh edition of its Garryana American Single Malt series (Quercus garryana is a rare oak indigenous to the Northwest). This one was finished in a combo of Washington State Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon casks and that fruity, tannic and sweet character shines through, with plenty of earthy wood spice and apple notes.

Rampur Select
Rampur Select
Rampur Distillery

Rampur Select

A U.S. exclusive, Select is made from 100% Indian barley and matured in first-fill bourbon casks. A restocking of a bottle first released in 2016 (which won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition), this single malt — crafted in the foothills of the Himalayas and under extreme temperature extremes — features a rich mouthfeel and a palate of candied fruit, baking spices and caramel.

Waterford Organic Gaia 2.1
Waterford Organic Gaia 2.1
Waterford Distillery

Waterford Organic Gaia 2.1

These terroir-driven Irish whiskey distillers — and the largest producer of organic malt whisky in the world — just launched a second edition of their Arcadian Series, which spotlights farmers who offer up a “non-conformist” approach (basically, they’re utilizing organic, biodynamic and heritage barley, and the whisky has no coloring, chill-filtration or additives). Gaia is Ireland’s only whisky to be distilled from 100% organic Irish barley, and it’s matured in a combination of 39% first-fill U.S. oak, 17% virgin U.S. oak, 19% Premium French oak and 25% Vin Doux Naturel oak. At 50% ABV, this outstanding release features notes of malt, vanilla, pear, kiwi and orange, rounded out by a creamy mouthfeel.

Old Elk Rum Cask Finish
Old Elk Rum Cask Finish
Old Elk

Old Elk Rum Cask Finish

The Colorado-based distillery continues its Cask Finish Series — which previously included Port and Cognac Cask Finish Straight Bourbon Whiskeys — with a rye finished in 14-year-old Barbados rum casks for 2-5 months. While I’m partial to the distillery’s wheated whiskeys, this rye (a 95/5 rye/malted barley mashbill) takes on tropical flavors (including pineapple) with a nice bit of rye spice. It made for an amazing take on an Old Fashioned.

  • Tattersall WI-SKI
  • Mystic Galactic
  • Barrelsmith Boulevardier and Manhattan
  • Sagamore Spirit Reserve Series 8-Year-Old Rye Whiskey
  • Orphan Barrel Whisky Distilling Co. Muckey-Muck 26-Year-Old

And five more….

  • The Midwest distillery Tattersall has joined forces with the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF), the host of the cross-country ski event American Birkebeiner. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Birkie, the two collaborated on a limited-edition Tattersall WI-SKI, a straight rye whiskey aged in used maple syrup barrels (reminder: whiskey and maple go well together).
  • After conventional aging on Earth, Mystic Galactic’s bourbon will spend a year in low earth orbit — if everything goes right. You can read more about this space-bound whiskey here.
  • We just tried Barrelsmith, a woman-owned brand that offers barrel-aged, ready-to-serve cocktails in 750ml bottles. The two whiskey-based releases, the Boulevardier and the Manhattan, are bottled at full strength (about 30-35% ABV) and utilize both sourced whiskeys and some of the company’s own bitters, Vermouth and liqueurs. The former is sweet, balanced and offers a lot of nice orange and fruit notes; the latter is best served cold (they say over ice, but that’s not the usual Manhattan recipe; put in a very cold fridge or even a freezer briefly instead). 
  • Previously offered with limited distribution, Baltimore’s Sagamore Spirit just announced its Reserve Series 8-Year-Old Rye Whiskey as a limited edition, but now more widely available bottle. The previous release won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition — this time out, expect notes of dried cherries, clove, and smoked vanilla on the nose and candied ginger, sweet orange, molasses and nut brittle on the palate.
  • Diageo’s rare whisky brand Orphan Barrel Whisky Distilling Co. recently introduced the third and final Single Grain Scotch Whisky release in its Muckety-Muck series: Muckety-Muck 26 Year Old. It hails from the ghost distillery of Port Dundas (which closed its doors in 2010 but in its prime housed a piggery; a prize pig named Muckety-Muck was the inspiration behind this name). It offers a rich mouthfeel, with notes of cherry, vanilla, cocoa and raspberry. 

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