Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. For more great fall bottles, please check out our more in-depth looks at new releases from Angel’s Envy, Wild Turkey, Paul Sutton and HIRSCH.
We wrote about this blended Scotch release earlier this fall, but we finally had a chance to taste this collaboration between Johnnie Walker Master Blender Dr. Emma Walker and Japanese Chef Kei Kobayashi. It’s a nice mix of sweet and savory, and it pairs particularly well with meals — the savory portions (wood spice, salinity, smoke) will work well with meat or fish (and definitely caviar), but let it sit for a moment and the fruity and chocolatey notes become more apparent…ideal for dessert.
The oldest and rarest expression from this Orkney-based distillery (which itself started in 1798), this whisky features casks originally laid down in 1968. From there, four refill butts and six refill hogsheads were combined in February 2008 and refilled into first-fill European sherry butts for final maturation. The bottle was announced in February as part of the distillery’s 225th anniversary, but we were just able to try a sample a few weeks back: It’s quite refined and floral with notes of vanilla, lychee, tropical fruit, and hints of smoke and oak. Only 225 bottles are available worldwide, and they’re valued at $54,000.
Celebrating its ten-year anniversary this fall, the South Carolina distillery High Wire used a nearly extinct type of corn (Jimmy Red) that they harvested and targeted for this release. A Bottled in Bond expression, this is a nuttier and more herbal bourbon than you may be used to, but the sweetness and caramel, graham cracker and vanilla notes really shine on the mid-palate. As a limited release, Jimmy Red is packaged in a custom stoneware, hand-glazed bottle with an imprinted Jimmy Red medallion and a gold wax seal.
Like they’re doing with rye, master whiskey blenders Pinhook took MGP-purchased barrels of bourbon a while back and is them as they aged year-by-year (in small, blended batches, so the ABV does change but the mashbill is consistent). And it’s amazing how much the liquid can transform in a year. Coming in 114.6 proof, this 8-year bourbon — dubbed Bourbon War — is starting to garner sweeter caramel and butterscotch notes along with oak spice and burnt orange peel. It feels close to perfect now, but curious how this’ll taste in another year or four, as the series will end with year 12.
Each year, WhistlePig releases one whiskey that’s spent time in some very interesting barrels and follows a set of five commandments. The tenth edition of Boss Hog actually expands the commandments to, natch, ten (the whiskey must be single barrel, bottled at proof, complex, unique, inventive, etc.), printed on the inside of the box. This rye was aged in new American oak and then finished in barrels that contained the distillery’s experimental spirit (basically a rye/whey distillate infused with Frankincense and Myrrh) and also craft mead casks. The result
This one is super fruity/jammy and full of notes of dark cherry, vanilla, ginger and a little black pepper. It features a rich and oily mouthfeel and overall, kind of feels like an ideal winter holiday sipper that’d pair well with some sort of artisanal dessert. Note: Don’t do what I did and grab this bottle by the pig stopper; that’s a pointy bugger.
This limited-edition Single Pot Irish Whiskey was initially matured in a combination of bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks and then finished in Tawny Port casks for a number of years. This one has a rich mouthfeel with plenty of pralines, caramel, dried fruit and fig.
While the Speyside distillery has offered a 25-year-old expression before, The 25 reflects an entirely new liquid and package design. Aged in a high proportion of first-fill sherry-seasoned casks, this one is quite fruity, with notes of butterscotch, vanilla, toasted almonds, pear and cocoa, with a modest amount of baking and oak spices.
Another centennial celebration release from the House of Suntory, this limited-edition release ($5,000) features a blend of various malt and grain whiskies from Suntory’s Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita distilleries, with an emphasis on aging in rare Mizunara oak. Floral and full of incense, sandalwood, vanilla and toffee, with the Mizunara coming through mid-palate. Note: A limited-edition bottle design of Hibiki Japanese Harmony was also recently released.
A new flagship release from the Vermont blender — headed up by former WhistlePig bigwig Raj Bhakta — this interesting blend is 60% 2018 rye, 30% XO Calvados (average age about 30 years) and 10% Armagnac vintages (1928, 1941, 1962, 1973 and 1996). Priced at $69 — knowing Raj, this was intentional — this goes beyond a typical rye and gets into notes of orange peel, caramel, fruity custard, vanilla, red fruit and even some subtle tropical notes.
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