Balvenie Stories, Woodford Reserve Baccarat & More New Whisky

Scotch fans have a lot of great whisky to look forward to this week, with new releases from Balvenie, GlenDronach, and more. But drinkers of American single malt should keep their eyes peeled for new single barrel releases from Balcones. The Texas distillery has started a single barrel program, meaning liquor stores and bars can offer their own unique cask of single malt, choosing among American, French, and Hungarian oak casks. The program is available in 14 states with expansion planned.

On to the scotch. Balvenie is launching a new trio of single malts called The Balvenie Stories. The collection includes two permanently available expressions—The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 year old ($60) and A Week of Peat 14 year old ($99)—as well as the limited-edition A Day of Dark Barley 26 year old ($799). The whiskies are available nationwide.

Woodford Reserve has debuted a cognac-finished bourbon for travel retail. Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition was designed to perfectly match its elegant, French crystal decanter. It’s available for one year at duty-free stores for $1,500.

Back to scotch: GlenDronach is rolling out Batch 10 of its Grandeur series, a 27 year old single malt, in the U.S. The limited-edition whisky—just 240 bottles are coming to the U.S.—has a recommended price of $700.

Meanwhile, Littlemill 27 year old is also hitting the U.S. market, after initially being released abroad in 2017. Priced at $4,000, the whisky is understandably limited, since Littlemill closed in 1994. There are 80 bottles for the U.S.

Glen Scotia Distillery is bringing a festival bottling to the U.S. Released for the 2019 Campbeltown Malts Festival, the single malt aged for over 15 years in bourbon casks and has been finished in a rum cask. There are 1,200 bottles for the U.S., priced at $90.

California’s Charbay Distillery is releasing Lot No. 5 of its R5 whiskey, distilled from Bear Republic Racer 5 beer. Proceeds from the sale of the whiskey ($60) will support survivors of the deadly 2018 Northern California wildfires.

Finally, Silver Screen Bottling Co., which brought us Star Trek bourbon and scotch, among other whiskies, has a pre-sale for John Wick straight bourbon. The whiskey is packaged with two glasses and costs $80. It’s only available online.

Read on for full details.

Balvenie The Sweet Toast of American Oak 12 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $60
Release: June 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Initially aged for 12 years in bourbon casks, this whisky underwent a 4-month finish in double-toasted virgin oak casks. The casks were initially toasted at Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, and then toasted further at Balvenie’s own cooperage. Apprentice malt master Kelsey McKechnie stewarded this whisky through its development.

Balvenie A Week of Peat 14 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 14 years old
Proof: 48.3% ABV
Price: $99
Release: June 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Since 2002, for one week each year, Balvenie has distilled peated malt (around 30 ppm), an initiative that began under then-distillery manager Ian Millar. In 2017 and 2018, the results of that distillation were released as Peat Week (2002 Vintage) and Peat Week (2003 Vintage). This new 14 year old peated Balvenie replaces Peat Week, and will be permanently available.

Balvenie A Day of Dark Barley 26 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 26 years old
Proof: 47.8% ABV
Price: $799
Release: June 2019
Availability: 6,000 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

In 1992, Balvenie malt master David Stewart distilled a batch of spirit from heavily roasted barley. Some of that liquid was released as a 14 year old in 2006, but the rest was kept back for additional maturation, and has now been bottled at 26 years old. The “dark malt” creates extra depth of flavor, as well as notes like maple syrup and brown sugar.

Whisky Advocate says:

Each of these new releases is part of Balvenie’s Stories collection; the 12 and 14 year old whiskies are permanently available, while the 26 year old will be available in limited amounts for the next year or two until the stocks run out.

The Stories collection brings to life, well, the stories of different people who help create Balvenie’s whiskies. Each bottle comes with a hang tag that can be scanned to access podcasts where McKechnie, Millar, and Stewart discuss the whiskies. (You can also hear the podcasts on Balvenie’s website.)

Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45.2% ABV
Price: $1,500
Release: May 2019
Availability: Travel retail only

Need to know:

This Woodford Reserve was created to match its packaging, which is a special Baccarat crystal decanter. The bourbon brings together American and French influences—aging first in new charred American oak, of course, and then undergoing a finishing period in XO cognac casks. It’s available for one year in select duty-free stores.

Whisky Advocate says:

Only a few distilleries have used cognac casks for finishing, but the results have been consistently excellent. The soft aromatics of the cognac meld superbly with robust bourbon and other full-bodied whiskies. Woodford is releasing this Baccarat Edition in travel retail only for now, but many brands opt to expand availability of special-edition whiskies if the initial run proves popular—so don’t be surprised if this hits more store shelves in the future.

GlenDronach Grandeur 27 year old (Batch 10)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 27 years old
Proof: 50.1% ABV
Price: $700
Release: May 2019
Availability: 2,293 bottles, including 240 for the U.S.

Need to know:

The tenth release of GlenDronach’s limited-edition Grandeur series, this single malt whisky was aged in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

There’s no doubt that GlenDronach makes great whisky, and any reservations about this new batch of Grandeur should be put to rest by Whisky Advocate’s review, published in the Spring issue. Described as “luscious, rich, and inviting,” the whisky scored 93 points.

Littlemill 27 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Lowlands)
Age: 27 years old
Proof: 51.3% ABV
Price: $4,000
Release: June 2019 in the U.S.
Availability: 500 bottles, including 80 for the U.S.

Need to know:

Distilled in 1990, this whisky comes from Littlemill Distillery, which closed in 1994 and burned down ten years later. The remaining casks are owned by Loch Lomond Group and being released bit by bit. This 27 year old (released abroad in 2017) was aged primarily in refill casks, so the distillery’s character comes through quite clearly. Each full-size bottle comes packaged with a miniature, in case you want to taste the whisky without opening the whole bottle.

Whisky Advocate says:

Littlemill may have been been destroyed, but some of its stills live on at Loch Lomond Distillery, where they’re still making whisky today. The stills have a pot base but a straight neck with rectifying plates—an unusual design that is rarely used. (Learn more about still shapes and how they impact the flavor of scotch whisky.)

Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019 Rum Cask Finish

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Campbeltown)
Age: Not stated, but 16 years old
Proof: 51.3% ABV
Price: $90
Release: May 2019 in Scotland; June 2019 in the U.S.
Availability: 1,200 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Released for the 2019 Campbeltown Malts Festival, this single malt was distilled in 2003, aged for over 15 years in bourbon casks, and then was finished for seven months in Guyana rum casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Campbeltown was once home to dozens of producers and even referred to as “whisky city,” but now has just three operational distilleries: Glen Scotia, Springbank, and Glengyle (which makes Kilkerran single malt). The area is conveniently close to Islay, and thus it holds a single malt festival each May just before Fèis Ìle, which is one of Scotland’s largest and most popular whisky festivals. It’s too late for 2019, but if you’re making plans to visit Scotland in May 2020, consider hitting one or both festivals.

Charbay R5 (Lot No. 5)

Style: Whiskey distilled from beer
Origin: California
Age: Not stated
Proof: 49.5% ABV
Price: $60
Release: May 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Charbay distills this whiskey from “bottle-ready” Bear Republic Racer 5 beer and ages it in French oak. This batch was distilled in July 2013. Ten barrels are being released to raise funds for Stand for Kindness, which supports survivors of last year’s deadly Northern California wildfires.

Whisky Advocate says:

Drinking whiskey is great on its own, but when you can drink whiskey and do good, that’s even better. We love and will always enthusiastically support tying together philanthropy and drams. Phil-dram-thropy?

Continental Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $80
Release: Fall 2019; pre-orders available now
Availability: Online only at continentalbourbon.com

Need to know:

From the folks who brought you James T. Kirk bourbon, Montgomery Scott scotchDutch bourbon, and The Fixer blended whiskey, this John Wick-themed bourbon was distilled in Kentucky and bottled by Terressentia Spirits in South Carolina. While John Wick 3 is in theaters now, the whiskey is currently available for pre-order (shipping in the fall) and comes with two rocks glasses.

Whisky Advocate says:

We know John Wick is a bourbon drinker, so this tie-in makes sense. What we don’t know is how the whiskey tastes. If you end up buying a bottle, tell us what you think!

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