Balvenie Peat Week, WhistlePig Farmstock & More New Whisky

This week’s newest whiskies come from Scotland, Kentucky, Indiana, Ireland, and beyond.

Balvenie is releasing this year’s batch of Peat Week 14 year old. Vintage-dated to 2003, the peated whisky will be quite available—36,000 bottles are destined for the U.S. market—and will cost $99. If you’re wondering why Balvenie, a typically unpeated Speyside single malt, would make a peated version, find out the answer from the man who makes it, David Stewart.

Another whiskey that’s coming back for the second year in a row, WhistlePig Farmstock Crop 002 is now hitting shelves. The blend includes ryes sourced from MGP Distillery in Indiana, Alberta Distillers in Canada, and WhistlePig’s own Vermont Distillery; this year, the Vermont portion makes up 32% of the mix. As with Farmstock Crop 001, this year’s batch is limited. It has a recommended retail price of $73.

Speaking of MGP, the Indiana mega-distillery has just released its own rye, after years of supplying hundreds of other brands. Rossville Union Master Crafted straight rye is launching with two variants: one bottled at 47% ABV ($40) and the other at barrel proof, 56.3% ABV ($70). Named after the original distillery that opened in Lawrenceburg in 1847, the ryes are both aged at least four years and available in a handful of states.

The latest crop of Distiller’s Art single cask bottlings from Hunter Laing are now available. The single malt (and a couple single grain) scotches come from various regions of Scotland and range in age from 6 to 32 years old, and in price from $85 to $1,600. As single cask whiskies, they’re available in limited amounts.

The Calumet Farm whiskey brand is introducing 12 year old Single Rack Black Bourbon. The 47% ABV whiskey is bottled in small batches, but widely available for $70.

Finally, a new Irish whiskey has made a quiet appearance in the U.S. Gelston’s is a historic brand that was recently revived; its first expression is a 25 year old single malt sourced from Bushmills. Available in limited amounts for around $500, the whiskey will be joined by younger and lower-priced siblings, sourced from other Irish distilleries, in the future. Read on for full details.

Balvenie Peat Week 14 year old (2003 Vintage)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 14 years old
Proof: 48.3% ABV
Price: $99
Release: May 2018
Availability: 36,000 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Following up on the initial 2017 release of Peat Week, Balvenie is rolling out its second batch: still 14 years old, this was distilled in 2003 and matured under the expert eye of malt master David Stewart. It is, of course, made with peated malt, a departure from Balvenie’s usually unpeated house style.

Whisky Advocate says:

I sat down to talk with David Stewart in late 2017 about Peat Week, and the ways scotch has changed over the past half-century. When Stewart started his career in the 1960s, many distilleries used peat to dry their barley. Smokiness in scotch was expected. Although that has changed—especially in areas like Speyside, where there are few distilleries still using peated malt—Peat Week is, in David’s words, “taking Balvenie back to where we originally started from.”

WhistlePig Farmstock Crop 002

Style: Rye
Origin: Multiple (Vermont, Indiana, and Canada)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $73
Release: May 2018
Availability: Limited—150 barrels were bottled

Need to know:

The second batch (or “crop”) of WhistlePig’s Farmstock whiskey blends 23% 10 year old rye from Alberta Distillers in Canada, 45% 6 year old rye from MGP Distillery, and 32% 2 year old rye made at WhistlePig Distillery, a higher proportion than the 20% WhistlePig rye found in Crop 001.

Whisky Advocate says:

Like many young distilleries, WhistlePig initially sourced all its whiskeys while waiting for its own product to be distilled and aged. (High West, another distillery that started off using only sourced products, just announced that its house-made rye is now a primary component of Double Rye.) When it debuted Farmstock (85 points) in 2017, WhistlePig introduced its own-made whiskey to the world. WhistlePig master distiller Dave Pickerell sat down with me last year to explain how he puts FarmStock together—watch the interview here.

Rossville Union Master Crafted Straight Rye and Barrel Proof Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated, but at least four years old
Proof: 47% ABV and 56.3% ABV (barrel proof)
Price: $40 and $70 (barrel proof)
Release: June 2018
Availability: AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, NE, OH, and WI

Need to know:

MGP Distillery—supplier of rye whiskey to numerous craft distilleries—has launched its own rye brand. Rossville Union is aged at least four years and is available in two proofs—47% ABV and 56.3% ABV. The rye is a combination of mashbills, including a 51% rye mashbill and MGP’s signature 95% rye mashbill. The name is historic: Rossville Union was the original name of the Lawrenceburg distillery when it opened in 1847.

Whisky Advocate says:

After selling lots of whiskey to other producers for decades, MGP has been making moves to roll out its own brands. Last year, the company relaunched the George Remus bourbon line, and now it’s time for the rye. Of course, MGP is up against some stiff competition from producers who are finishing, blending, or otherwise using MGP-sourced rye for their own brands—think High West, Bulleit, even the WhistlePig that’s right above this text. It should be a fun (and delicious) exercise to compare the distillery’s own house rye with some of the many ryes it originally made.

Distiller's Art Single Cask Whiskies

Style: Single malt and single grain
Origin: Scotland (varies)
Age: Varies—6 to 32 years old
Proof: Varies—50.1% to 60.6% ABV
Price: Varies—$85 to $1,600
Release: 2017
Availability: Varies; all limited

Need to know:

This line of single-cask bottlings comes from Hunter Laing, an independent bottler that’s about to open Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay, where the legendary distiller Jim McEwan will serve as production director.

The range includes a number of single malt and single grain whiskies, each bottled at cask strength:

Distiller’s Art 1990 Girvan—25 year old single grain; 57.1% ABV; $197; aged in ex-bourbon; 90 bottles

Distiller’s Art 1991 Jura—24 year old Island single malt; 50.1% ABV; $237; aged in ex-bourbon; 252

Distiller’s Art 1993 Macallan—23 year old Speyside single malt; 55% ABV; $1,600; aged in ex-bourbon; 468 bottles

Distiller’s Art Blair Athol 1995—21 year old Highland single malt; 55.8% ABV; $163; aged in ex-sherry; 570 bottles

Distiller’s Art 1995 Craigellachie—21 year old Speyside single malt; 52.7% ABV; $163; aged in ex-sherry; 582 bottles

Distiller’s Art 1995 Glengoyne—20 year old Highland single malt; 57.5% ABV; $149; aged in ex-bourbon; 216 bottles

Distiller’s Art 1996 North British—19 year old single grain; 53.4% ABV; $160; aged in ex-sherry; 35 bottles

Distiller’s Art 1997 Macduff—20 year old Highland single malt; 53.1% ABV; $149; aged in ex-bourbon; 168 bottles

Distiller’s Art 2001 Laphroaig—15 year old Islay single malt; 57.2% ABV; $323; aged in ex-sherry; 174 bottles

Distiller’s Art Benrinnes 2002—14 year old Highland single malt; 56.8% ABV; $131; aged in ex-sherry; 510 bottles

Distiller’s Art Ben Nevis 2011—6 year old Highland single malt; 60.6% ABV; $85; aged in ex-bourbon; 240 bottles

Whisky Advocate says:

Savvy scotch drinkers don’t need to be told that independent bottlers, or IBs, offer some of the best whisky deals going. The Distiller’s Art range is no exception. Compare its 21 year old Craigellachie to the official Craigellachie 23 year old—$163 versus around $300 or more. With each of these whiskies bottled at cask-strength, too, there’s a lot of value for the price.

Calumet Farm 12 year old Single Rack Black Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $70
Release: May 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

This bourbon comes from barrels from “the specific center cut racks from the ideal maturation location and conditions inside the rick house,” according to the company’s press release. Nineteen barrels were used for this initial batch; there will be more batches released in the future, with consistent availability.

Whisky Advocate says:

Western Spirits, the parent company of Calumet Farm, has a contract with Bardstown Bourbon Company to distill whiskey for this brand and others, like the Bird Dog line. For the moment, however, the whiskeys come from an undisclosed source or sources.

Gelston's 25 year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Style: Single malt
Origin: Northern Ireland
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 52.4% ABV
Price: Around $500
Release: Late 2017
Availability: 1,200 bottles; currently for sale in CA, IL, IN, MI, MO, NY, and TX

Need to know:

Gelston’s, a new Irish whiskey brand, debuted in late 2017 with this 25 year old single malt sourced from Bushmills Distillery. The whiskey spent its entire life in ex-bourbon casks and is bottled non-chill filtered at cask strength.

Whisky Advocate says:

Wine and whiskey merchant Samuel Gelston founded his namesake brand in 1830; after his death in 1869, Harry J. Neill bought the business. His descendant, Johnny Neill, has revived the Gelston’s Irish whiskey brand. Like his predecessors, he uses sourced whiskey—in the case of this 25 year old, from Bushmills. Future releases of Gelston’s will include younger single malts from different distillery sources.

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