We believe popcorn belongs in spirits. And so does Journeyman, an award-winning Valparaiso, IN distillery that’s honoring local legend Orville Redenbacher with a limited-edition, cask-strength whiskey with a popcorn-dominant mash (52% popcorn, with 33% barley and 15% rye). It’s surprisingly close to a traditional bourbon with a bit more of a buttery mouthfeel and some caramel corn notes.
The year’s most giftable whiskey? The third chapter of the Wyoming distillery’s Wide Open Spaces annual releases serve as a tribute to Grand Teton National Park; proceeds support the park’s philanthropic partner Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF). This is a 105-proof straight bourbon aged for a minimum of five years with a bottle design inspired by the winding Snake River. Featuring a 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley mashbill, this one features notes of butterscotch, orange, honey and black tea.
This limited-edition release (good look finding one; it’s already sold out online) utilizes the Australian distillery’s signature aging in red wine and small format Apera barrels, then enriches it for an additional 18 months in ex-Bourbon Stout barrels from Melbourne’s Brick Lane Brewery. The floral and fruity notes here aren’t lost, but hints of chocolate, vanilla and banana surface on repeated tastings.
Bardstown Bourbon Company only opened in 2016, but it’s already racking up accolades: This year, it won IWSC’s 2023 Worldwide Whiskey Producer Trophy. As part of the distillery’s Collaborative Series, they recently released a blend of 6-and 7-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon finished in still-wet Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout barrels. From there, the finished blend was married with a 9-year Kentucky bourbon. Coming in at 100 proof, this one offers more of the burly stout notes you’d expect, with hints of cherry and black tea balancing the dark chocolate, vanilla and coconut profile.
We Tasted and Ranked Every 2023 Goose Island Bourbon County StoutDelicious, as always.
The 2023 bottle of this annual release is a collection of the Brooklyn distillery’s oldest and rarest whiskeys, from Tennessee and Indiana, aged a minimum of 15 years, blended in small batches and finished for three months in air-seasoned casks at the distillery’s Red Hook rickhouse. This also marks the distillery’s first national bourbon released under the direction of Sienna Jevremov, who was named head distiller and blender in October 2022. At 99 proof, this one maintains a lot of its oak/wood presence, with hints of baking spices and tobacco. There’s also a lot of cherry, caramel, cinnamon, pear and root beer.
Now an annual release with a charitable element, this 110-proof rye pours from the rear of a one-liter pig vessel (there’s precedent: the bottle was inspired by a 19th-century antique pig decanter). A 10-year expression, this is a robust rye, full of mint, dill and oak spice. It’s both herbaceous and sweet, with a long dry finish.
The Portland single malt distillery just introduced its first-ever luxury whiskey release. Milestone ($250) celebrates the producer’s 20th anniversary and utilizes a 21-barrel solera system and some of the distillery’s “oldest and most coveted whiskeys,” many with unique wine and wood finishes. The company will draw off a small fraction of this whiskey for each annual release, replacing it with something unique from their barrel house. The inaugural release (43% ABV) features notes of honey, citrus, malt, cocoa, butterscotch and dark fruits.
Still Austin’s new seasonal (and limited) Blue Corn Bourbon debuted at their Texas distillery last month and is now starting to roll out nationally. The third expression in their Bottled in Bond series features a unique mashbill of 26% blue corn, 25% white corn, 44% rye and 5% malted barley (blue corn was used to “invoke the endless winter night sky”). There’s a lot of dark chocolate here, along with baking spices, black tea, eucalyptus, dark fruits and caramel.
The first in a Collector’s Series from Dewar’s honoring the whisky regions of Scotland, DD37 is crafted with a four-stage aging process — meaning, the whisky is aged, blended, aged again and then finished in Oloroso sherry casks that once held Aultmore single malt (to honor the Speyside region). This one is fruity, creamy and full of vanilla, honey, orange peel and a hint of smoke. Note: Every 375ml bottle of Double Double 37 Year Old is accompanied by two Baccarat Massena crystal tumblers.
Every day for 12 days in December, Blue Run is dropping a new bourbon that’ll be available for that day only. And they all feature “unique profiles inspired by the holiday season” (All the Gold Rings, Rockin’ Around, Grandma’s House, etc.) crafted by distiller Jim Rutledge. Knowing Blue Run, these will sell out quickly. We’re eyeing the 120.4 proof Fully Lit, which the brand describes as follows: “Close your eyes and imagine a double pump vanilla latte and bowl of ripe black cherries begging you to go deeper into the bourbon chasm. And you should. You’ll be greeted by flavors that remind you of caramel corn, dark chocolate, and thick, creamy espresso. Just when you thought the experience was over – boom – it’s not. Honey-drizzled shishito peppers remind you of the joy of exploration before you’re gently lulled to sleep by a fresh-baked toasted almond croissant dusted with powdered sugar.”
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