My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskeys (Part 1)October 5th, 2012
WhiskyFest San Francisco is tonight. WhiskyFest New York weekend is three weeks from tonight. Because of this, I don’t have much time to blog at the moment, but I did want to provide my informal thoughts on some new whiskies.
Let’s start with American whiskey. I’ll do another quick post next week sometime and address some new scotch whiskies I’ve tasted, along with some more bourbons.
I tasted my way through the newest Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and I must say that they are all great. If you normally like one or more of these whiskeys (Sazerac 18 yr., Eagle Rare 17 yr., George T. Stagg, Thomas H. Handy, and William Larue Weller) and you manage to find a bottle for sale somewhere, buy it! I don’t think you will be disappointed.
The new Colonel E. H. Taylor Straight Rye release is different than Buffalo Trace’s other Rye offerings. This one is very high in rye and has no corn in the mashbill. It’s a different flavor profile and you might want to try it before you buy it to make sure you like that style of rye. While a nice whiskey, I don’t put it on the same level as Sazerac 18 yr. old or even Thomas H. Handy Rye.
I’ve really been enjoying the new Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2012 Release. It’s one of the best Four Roses whiskeys I’ve ever tasted and one of the best bourbons I’ve tasted this year. Yes, high praise indeed.
As you know, after we named the initial single barrel release of Elijah Craig 20 yr. old our American Whisky of the Year, Heaven Hill decided to discontinue their 18 yr. old and start releasing limited amounts of Elijah Craig 20 yr. old nationwide. I’ve tasted my way through a few of the single barrels, and my favorite to date is Barrel No. 13. I don’t know where Barrel No. 13 went, but if you can find a bottle, I think you will like it. It’s not as elegant as the initial release, but it has a richer flavor. And while there is more wood influence (something that concerns me with well-aged bourbons), there are lovely sweet notes to balance the dry oak spices. (I also want to mention to be on the lookout for Elijah Craig 21 yr. old hitting the market soon.)
The new Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection releases are whiskeys aged in two large French oak barrels: one for 19 years, the other for 23 years. I enjoy the 19 yr. old release. It’s surprisingly nicely balanced, and defies its age. The 23 yr. old, however, is a different story. I think that one was left in the barrel too long and I would avoid that one if I were you.
P.S. Speaking of WhiskyFest San Francisco tonight, we have a first for WhiskyFest: Nikka 12 yr. and 15 yr. from Japan are on the pour list. While I enjoy Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu, it’s nice to see a new Japanese whisky here in the U.S.