Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. Also, see our best new whiskeys guide in July 2023.
Two new limited releases from the James B. Beam Distilling Company and Master Distiller Freddie Noe. These are the debut of an ongoing series of annual releases, featuring “some of James B. Beam Distilling Co.’s rarest and most unique liquids.” Jacob’s Well (108 proof) is a blend of two ultra-aged expressions: one 16-year-old traditional bourbon and one 15-year-old high-rye bourbon (if you like extra-aged bourbons with a lot of wood character and the right amount of rye spice, this is excellent). Meanwhile, Colonel James B. Beam goes the opposite direction — it’s an homage to the whiskeys made right after Prohibition. Here, they’re taking it off the still at a lower distillation proof and only aging for two years — it’s spicy, nutty and full of vanilla.
Not a ton of info on this one, but essentially this is whiskey aged in American Oak #3 char barrels and then slow-smoked with Traeger’s all-natural apple BBQ wood. Bottled at 43% ABV, this is the definition of a barbecue in your mouth — not just the smoke (which is subtle), but the sweetness, too.
A tribute to the year Playboy was founded, this release from Rare Hare Spirits is a Kentucky bourbon aged for 17 years in new American Oak barrels before being dumped, blended and re-barreled in XXO Cognac casks for another 9-12 months. Notes of baking spices, candied fruit, caramel, oak and nutmeg all pleasantly work together here on this 111-proof release; only 1,953 bottles are available.
A new 101-proof limited release from the Irish whiskey brand’s new American Oak Series. The whiskey here is matured in American Oak bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, before being finished for a period of 3-7 months in naturally air-dried PEFC certified American Oak 1 sourced from the Taylor Family’s Elk Cave Farm in Kentucky. The combo certainly enhances the wood and vanilla notes, while the hints of dark fruit, nutmeg and cinnamon still wonderfully linger. An ideal Irish pick for the American whiskey drinker.
A new whiskey brand from Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, these two modest-priced ($37-$60) entries feature blends of high-rye bourbons. The Reserve Bourbon (107.8 proof) in particular has a nice subtle cherry note that mixes well with the rye spice, vanilla, black tea, cocoa and oak.
And five more:
- Starward Octave is a limited-edition release from our favorite Australian distillery — here, their single malt is aged in Yalumba’s The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz barrels. The wine and dark fruit notes here are powerful, and there’s even a hint of salinity.
- Woodford Reserve’s Toasted Oak Oat Grain is a very limited-edition release (basically, you can get it in Kentucky and at the distillery). It’s made of fully-matured Woodford Reserve Oat Grain Bourbon, then finished in a second barrel that has been heavily toasted.
- When is a barrel-proof whiskey not a whiskey? Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.’s just released its Cascade Moon 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof. Aged 15 years, this “spirit distilled from grain” comes out at 39.9% ABV, just under the legal proof threshold for whiskey. It’s a gentle brown spirit, though full of flavor and wood spice.
- Pendleton launched Directors’ Reserve, a Canadian-sourced whisky aged 20 years in American oak barrels and then cut with glacier-fed spring water from Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Each bottle is adorned with a leather-smithed neck cuff made by third-generation saddle maker Randy Severe. Notes of coconut, vanilla, oak, apple and wood spice abound in this pleasant sipper.
- The Balvenie launched its Rare Marriages Range: a collection of three Single Malt Scotch whiskies, including an all-new 25-year-old liquid ($799.99), with refreshed versions of the existing Balvenie 30- ($2,400) and 40-year-old ($6,750) expressions.
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