Balvenie DoubleWood 25 Year Old, Michter’s Toasted Barrel & More New Whisky

Love scotch, bourbon, or American single malt? Then pay attention—this week’s new whiskies should make you very happy.

Balvenie is releasing a 25 year old edition of its DoubleWood single malt, matured first in ex-bourbon casks and then in Spanish oak oloroso sherry casks. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old, just 3,600 bottles will be available at a price of $599. Meanwhile, Balvenie’s parent company William Grant & Sons has unveiled a blended straight bourbon. Fistful of Bourbon combines five straight bourbons from undisclosed sources, blended to balance five unique flavor profiles. The whiskey is initially launching in Texas for $25, and is expected to become more widely available in the future.

Michter’s is re-releasing a bourbon that was last available in 2015. Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish will be available nationwide with a recommended price of $60, but expect it to sell out—like the previous releases, this is available in limited amounts.

Several new limited-edition scotches will be released this fall. Bunnahabhain will offer a peated single malt distilled in 2008 and matured entirely in red wine casks from Bordeaux ($110), as well an unpeated single malt distilled in 1997 and finished in palo cortado sherry casks ($500). Both whiskies are bottled at cask strength and will be available in limited amounts.

Meanwhile, Deanston is coming out with a 9 year old single malt finished in French brandy casks. It will cost $85 and have limited availability.

Two whiskies from Tobermory Distillery on the Scottish island of Mull will soon be hitting shelves. Tobermory 12 year old Fino Cask Finish was distilled in 2005 and—you guessed it—finished in fino sherry casks. It will have a recommended price of $175. The distillery is also releasing a new peated malt under its Ledaig label, a 19 year old whisky distilled in 1998 and finished in PX sherry casks that will sell for $200. Both whiskies are bottled at cask strength and are available in limited amounts.

American single malt distillery Westland will soon release the third iteration of its Garryana whiskey. Made partly with peated malt and aged in a variety of oaks, including the Pacific Northwest Quercus garryana, the 56% ABV whiskey has limited availability and will carry a recommended price of $150.

Finally, Jefferson’s is introducing a new bourbon finished in a custom barrel. Jefferson’s Twin Oak takes 10 year old Kentucky straight bourbon and re-casks it into a grooved barrel that has been toasted and charred to custom specifications. The whiskey will retail for $80 and be widely available.

Read on for full details.

Balvenie DoubleWood 25 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $599
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 3,600 bottles

Need to know:

In 1993, Balvenie Distillery released 12 year old DoubleWood—a single malt that had been matured first in ex-bourbon casks, and then in Spanish oak oloroso sherry casks. Now a quarter-century later, a special edition of DoubleWood made that year is being released. Although more than twice the age of the DoubleWood 12 year old, this whisky actually spent less time finishing in the oloroso sherry casks—just three months as opposed to nine—because it had already taken on complexity and spice during its lengthy initial maturation.

Whisky Advocate says:

Balvenie’s malt master, David Stewart, was one of the earliest pioneers of finishing whisky in a secondary cask; he visited Whisky Advocate’s offices recently to discuss his early experiments (including which casks did not work) and describe the unique flavor attributes different finishing casks impart on single malt. Although there were earlier cask-finished whiskies from the distillery, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old became, and remains today, an iconic example of cask finishing and Stewart’s skill as a blender—and this 25 year old will undoubtedly demonstrate the same.

Michter's US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Bourbon (2018 Release)

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45.7% ABV
Price: $60
Release: September 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Michter’s is re-releasing a bourbon last available in 2015. This Kentucky straight bourbon was finished in custom barrels that were toasted, but not charred.

Whisky Advocate says:

What difference does toasting, but not charring, a barrel make? Chuck Cowdery can answer that question.

When Michter’s released this bourbon in 2014, it scored 87 points in our Buying Guide; the second release scored 86 points. Although it will be sold just about everywhere that Michter’s is available, this whiskey is nevertheless likely to sell out just like its predecessors. If you want to buy it, pick it up when you see it.

Fistful of Bourbon

Style: Blend of straight bourbons
Origin: Undisclosed (multiple)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $25
Release: September 2018
Availability: Texas, with future expansion planned

Need to know:

This is a blend of five straight bourbons from UK-based drinks company William Grant & Sons, the same company that owns scotch brands like Glenfiddich, Balvenie, and Grant’s; Irish whiskey Tullamore DEW; Hendrick’s gin; Sailor Jerry rum; and many other spirits. Selected for the diversity of flavors they offer, the bourbons were sourced from undisclosed distilleries and blended by master blender Brian Kinsman and blender Kelsey McKechnie. Although William Grant also owns Tuthilltown Distillery and the Hudson Whiskey brand, this is the company’s first foray into mainstream bourbon.

Whisky Advocate says:

While “blended whiskey” in the U.S. usually denotes a liquid that is made up of mainly neutral grain spirit with at least 20% aged straight whiskey, “blended straight whiskey” is made only of straight whiskey. This bourbon is 100% bourbon, although it’s highly likely that the different whiskeys used in the blend came from different distilleries, and William Grant notes that the sources may change in the future depending on supply. The idea is to create a consistent flavor profile every time, regardless of who distilled the whiskeys. That’s what blending is all about! The skills of Fistful’s blending team are well-established: Brian Kinsman is the same master blender who oversees William Grant’s entire whisky portfolio, while Kelsey McKechnie currently works with him on Glenfiddich.

Bunnahabhain Mòine Bordeaux Red Wine Matured (2008 Vintage)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 9 years old
Proof: 58.1% ABV
Price: $110
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 4,512 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled on December 1, 2008, this whisky spent its entire maturation period in red wine casks from France’s Bordeaux region. Mòine is the name Bunnhabhain uses for its peated whiskies.

Whisky Advocate says:

Single malts fully matured in wine casks aren’t easy to come by; wine casks cost a lot more than the widely-used ex-bourbon barrel. But the expense can be worth it for certain whiskies, especially peated ones; Kilchoman Distillery has also released wine cask-only single malts to great success.

 

Bunnahabhain Palo Cortado Cask Finish (1997 Vintage)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 20 years old
Proof: 54.9% ABV
Price: $500
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 1,644 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled on November 22, 1997, this unpeated Islay single malt matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 19 years before being finished in Palo Cortado sherry casks for a year.

Whisky Advocate says:

One of the rarest sherry varieties is palo cortado, a wine whose production falls somewhere between fino and amontillado (which are aged under a layer of yeast, called flor, which keeps oxygen from affecting the wine) and oloroso (which is aged oxidatively, with oxygen affecting the final flavor). Because so little palo cortado sherry is produced, very few whiskies use palo cortado casks for maturation. So even at a steep price, this Bunnahabhain may be worth it if you’re interested in tasting the influence of palo cortado on well-aged single malt scotch.

Deanston 9 year old Brandy Finish

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 9 years old
Proof: 56.4% ABV
Price: $85
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 3,432 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled on May 23, 2008, this whisky spent its first seven years maturing in an ex-bourbon barrels before undergoing a two-year finishing period in French brandy casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

France’s most famous brandies are cognac and armagnac, made to rigid specifications in certain regions, but the country also has a wealth of other brandies made from grapes, apples, and other fruit. Fans of cognac-finished scotch should try this one as it’s likely to share many of the same flavors.

Tobermory 12 year old Fino Cask Finish (2005 Vintage)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islands)
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 55.1% ABV
Price: $175
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 1,710 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled on April 28, 2005, this whisky matured in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years and then was finished in fino sherry hogsheads for two years.

Whisky Advocate says:

Fino sherry is not often used in whisky maturation; oloroso and Pedro Ximénez (PX) are more popular sherry types thanks to the nutty and fruity flavors they impart. That said, this may be the early stages of a trend toward more fino-finished whiskies: Laphroaig’s 2018 Cairdeas release is also finished in fino casks.

Ledaig 19 year old Pedro Ximénez Cask Finish (1998 Vintage)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islands)
Age: 19 years old
Proof: 55.7% ABV
Price: $200
Release: Fall 2018
Availability: 1,650 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled on July 9, 1998, this peated single malt made at Tobermory Distillery was matured for nearly 18 years in ex-bourbon barrels, then put into Pedro Ximénez sherry casks in May 2016.

Whisky Advocate says:

There is no Ledaig Distillery; the peated whisky is made at Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and is called Ledaig to distinguish it from the normally unpeated spirit made there. Tobermory Distillery has been undergoing renovations since early 2017, and has temporarily discontinued some of its core whiskies. For now, fans of the distillery will have to make do with limited-release offerings like this one and the 12 year old Tobermory.

Westland Garryana 3|1

Style: Single malt
Origin: Washington
Age: Not stated
Proof: 56% ABV
Price: $150
Release: September 2018
Availability: 1,638 bottles

Need to know:

This whiskey is made with 5-malt, Washington Select, and heavily peated malts. Unlike the previous two iterations, the 2018 release of Westland’s Garryana single malt does not include any whiskey that was fully matured in Quercus garryana, a white oak native to the Pacific Northwest. Due to the oak’s limited supply (it’s illegal to cut down, meaning all wood used for casks has to come from trees that fall naturally), Westland’s distilling and blending team did not have enough casks for full-term maturation. Instead, they employed vatting and finishing techniques to get the oak’s influence on the whiskey, which was also matured in new American oak, first-fill ex-bourbon, first-fill ex-port, and refill Westland whiskey casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Located in Seattle, Westland emphasizes the use of local ingredients, including heirloom barley varieties and garry oak. Master distiller Mat Hofmann visited Whisky Advocate’s offices last year to taste Garryana 2|1, discussing the unique flavor characteristics imparted by the oak.

By the way, Garryana 2|1 scored 86 points, while the first release scored 87 points. If you’re into collecting, you’ll probably want to start picking up these bottles.

Jefferson's Twin Oak Custom Barrel

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 45.1% ABV
Price: $80
Release: August 2018
Availability: 42,000 bottles available nationwide

Need to know:

Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller worked with Independent Stave Company to design a custom finishing barrel for a 10 year old Kentucky straight bourbon. The barrel, which is toasted and charred to custom specifications, is made with grooved staves. These increase the surface area to allow for more interaction between wood and whiskey.

Whisky Advocate says:

Jefferson’s has never been shy about experimentation. The brand has released bourbon finished in rum barrels, as well as bourbon that spent most of its maturation period at sea. Grooved barrels aren’t a new thing in the whiskey world, but custom toasting and charring can help add unique flavors.

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