This Year in Gear
All the Biggest Whiskey Releases of the Year
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1792 Full Proof
Jim Murray, the world’s most-read whiskey critic, named 1792 Full Proof Bourbon Whiskey the Whiskey of the Year.
1792 Full Proof “Collapsed Warehouse”
The sticker on the bottle, which Sip Whiskey “hand picked” from a lot of surviving barrels, says it was aged in Warehouse #29 of Barton’s collection of 30 aging houses. But according to reports of the 2018 incident, the warehouse that went down was #30 — meaning Sip Whiskey’s listing, which sold out last week, didn’t come from the downed warehouse, but instead came from the warehouse adjacent to it.
Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon
The change to a single barrel bottling marks the first exclusively single barrel expression in the Jim Beam Small Batch lineup and the second single barrel product overall (Knob Creek has both single barrel reserve and select offerings). It will retain its 7-year age statement and 107 proofing, but will sell at a slightly pricier $60 SRP (was previously low-$50s) and comes in new packaging.
Buffalo Trace Antique Collection
For the uninitiated, the Antique Collection is routinely among the most-hyped whiskey releases of the year. Bottles regularly receive some of whiskey’s highest awards — including top accolades in Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible, Whisky Advocate, World Whiskies Awards and the all-important San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Double Eagle Very Rare
The Double Eagle Very Rare is the most limited version of Eagle Rare yet — followed closely by the Eagle Rare 17-year-old bottle that’s a part of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Antique Collection. The first release of the new expression is limited to 299 bottles and will retail for $1,999.
E.H. Taylor Amaranth
Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Amaranth Bourbon Whiskey, available late July in limited quantities, is the first bourbon made with amaranth in the mashbill. Known by its progenitors as huaútli, amaranth was once a foundational foodway of the Aztec empire, used in everything from dinner to religious ceremony. Today, it’s popular in gluten-free baking.
Elijah Craig Rye Whiskey
The Elijah Craig rye, which shares the Heaven Hill Distillery rye spotlight with Rittenhouse and Pikesville ryes, will retail for $30 and, though it will not bear an age statement, is comprised of older whiskey than either of its predecessors (Pikesville is aged six years minimum and Rittenhouse is aged four). Heaven Hill says the whiskey will be available January 2020 in limited markets — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Oregon — with plans for eventual expansion.
Four Roses Small Batch Select
After 12 years of nothing but limited editions and one-offs, Small Batch Select is joining Four Roses’s small and highly praised permanent collection, and it has a lot in common with one of the brand’s most coveted drops ever (Four Roses 130th Anniversary, in particular).
George Dickel Bottled-in-Bond
Most bottled-in-bonded whiskeys don’t advertise age statements (E.H. Taylor, Old Grandad, Jack Daniel’s Bottled-in-Bond Offering, Evan Williams white label), but affordable-whiskey maker George Dickel’s new offering does, and for good reason: it’s 13 years old and costs just $36.
Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond
The bottle represents another win for age statement purists; earlier this month, Knob Creek brought an age statement back to its Small Batch bottle. Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is one year older than its predecessor and proudly displays the words “THIS BOURBON IS 7 YEARS OLD” in bold, red letters on the bottom label. According to the distillery, the new expression will see wider distribution as well.
Henry McKenna Bottled-in-Bond
In the 19-year history of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), only one bourbon had ever claimed the title “Best in Show, Whiskey.” Heaven Hill’s Henry McKenna Single Barrel made it two.
Ichiro’s Malt Card Series
There is no greater whiskey collecting feat than that of completing the deck (a unique bottle for every card). Produced between 1985 and 2000, the Card Series is the very last whisky from the legendary Hanyu Distillery, a whiskey-making operation with a cult-like following similar to Stitzel-Weller in American bourbon.
Kentucky Owl Confiscated
To its credit, Kentucky Owl has quickly become one of the most coveted new names in bourbon. In its five years on liquor store shelves, the brand earned high scores from Whisky Advocate and even won a Garden & Gun Made in the South Award. Just like hard-to-find sneakers, nearly every bottle resells for two-, three- and four-times that, and it should be interesting to see what effect the increased availability will have.
Lagavulin 10-Year (Travel Retail Exclusive)
Aged for a decade in American oak casks and cut to a Scotch-standard 86 proof, the distillery’s new expression is a permanent fixture in its portfolio going forward. There’s only one problem — you can only find it at airports.
Larceny Barrel Proof
Available January 2020, the barrel proof version of Heaven Hill Distillery’s affordable, well-loved Larceny bourbon is made with the same mashbill as its predecessor and therefore falls in the category bourbon drinkers call “wheaters.” Where most bourbon recipes are comprised of corn, rye and malted barley, a select few substitute wheat for barley. The category has experienced a small whiskey nerd renaissance as it’s rode the coattails of Pappy and Weller.
Legent is made, mostly, with 4-year-old straight bourbon and blended with red wine and sherry cask-finished whiskeys before bottling. It represents a first for both Jim Beam and Suntory — a mainline, reasonably priced, blended bourbon that’s made with various cask finishes.
Little Book “The Road Home”
“The Road Home” is an all-Jim Beam bourbon blend of 9-year-old Knob Creek, 9-year-old Basil Hayden’s, 11-year-old Booker’s and 12-year-old Baker’s. Each whiskey blended at barrel-proof and carries an age statement that matches or exceeds the highest we’ve seen for the brand.
Maker’s Mark RC6
The bottle is the first in the brand’s new Wood Finishing Series, the first-ever nationally distributed limited release Maker’s Mark has put out. It’s a natural extension from its Private Select wood stave finishing program, which allows private groups, liquor stores and restaurants to customize a barrel of bourbon by choosing which staves to finish it with, and Maker’s 46, which starts with barrel proof Maker’s Mark and finishes it with ten seared French oak staves.
Old Charter Oak
A product of Buffalo Trace Distillery, Old Charter Oak releases are all extra-aged in barrels made of atypical wood types. Think Canadian oak, French oak and even Mongolian oak.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon
Birthday Bourbon has continued to rank among the most collectible, sought-after annual bourbon rollouts, with former releases selling for $500 to $1,500 at retailers and even more on the secondary market. This year’s release, 120 barrels (a little more than 13,000 bottles) of 11-year-old whiskey, is listed at $100 retail, available September 2 and is bottled at an uncharacteristically high 105 proof (the highest proofing of any Birthday Bourbon release).
Old Forester Straight Rye Whiskey
The prospect of an Old Forester rye is exciting on its own, but compounded by the price — a cool $23. On top of that, it’s available nationwide.
Orphan Barrel Forager’s Keep
The first Scotch whisky under the brand’s umbrella, Forager’s Keep, isn’t sourced from a storied, old distillery every whiskey geek knows about. It’s 26-year-old juice from a short-lived Speyside Scotchmaker called Pittyvaich that started in 1974 and closed in 1993.
Parker’s Heritage Collection Rye Whiskey
Parker’s Heritage 2019 release is a rye whiskey aged for eight years and nine months. It’s made with Heaven Hill’s standard rye mashbill — the same it uses to make its Rittenhouse and Pikesville ryes — and it’s retailing at its usual $150 price point. But the divergence doesn’t come from the whiskey — it comes from the barrel. Where most Heaven Hill products is aged in Level 3 char barrels, the new Parker’s rests in Level 5 char barrels.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout
Back on liquor store shelves this fall, Old Scout 99 is a non-chill-filtered, approximately 5-year-old, medium-high proof bourbon sourced from the same distillery and made with the same mashbill (60 percent corn, 36 percent rye and 4 percent malted barley) as the original Old Scout.
Dubbed “Ao,” the 86 proof bottle is a blend of whiskies from the world’s major producing countries — Canada, Scotland, Ireland, the US and Japan. It’s also the first whisky Suntory will release that blends whiskies from different regions (or at least the first that’s upfront about it).
The Macallan Estate
The Macallan Estate celebrates the brand’s first year at its new distillery with an 86 proof single malt partially made of barley grown on Easter Elchies estate, a farm along the edge of the River Spey. The brand said it’ll be available in the U.S., but only for those drawn in an online ballot.
Weller Full Proof
Two notable attributes distinguish Full Proof in the W.L. Weller lineup. Bottled at 114 proof, the liquid is the same proof as when it first entered the barrel — for context, both 12 Year and Special Reserve are bottled at 90 proof. Buffalo Trace distillers also decided to skip chill-filtration to preserve some of the oils and flavors that the process can strip out.
Woodford Reserve Straight Wheat Whiskey
The addition of a straight wheat whiskey makes Woodford Reserve the only modern whiskey distillery to produce all four federally approved American straight whiskeys (bourbon, rye, malt, wheat). Made with a four-grain, 52 percent wheat mashbill, it comes in at the Woodford-standard 90.4 proof.
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