Barrell Rye, English Whisky, & New Craft Whiskeys

A fresh crop of whiskies are rolling down the pike this week. Barrell Whiskey’s second rye is hitting shelves. This batch combined rye from Indiana with malted rye from Poland. Like all Barrell products, it’s bottled at cask strength. The company is also releasing its 2018 New Year bourbon. This year’s iteration combines bourbons made at seven distilleries in five states, ranging in age from 5 to 14 years old.

The English Whisky Company rebranded its core line in the last year or so, and the new names and packaging are finally arriving in the U.S. Now known as The English, the two core expressions are Original and Smokey. In addition, there’s a single rum cask-matured single malt, exclusive to the U.S.

Meanwhile, a variety of craft distilleries are launching new whiskeys. Old Elk bourbon comes from Colorado, but is the result of the producer’s collaboration with three distilleries: Woody Creek (CO), Finger Lakes (NY), and MGP (IN). Old Elk has named former MGP master distiller Greg Metze as its new master distiller, though the company is not yet equipped to make whisky at its own facility.

Manassas, Virginia’s KO Distilling is launching Bare Knuckle bourbon, a 2 year old straight bourbon distilled from local grains. Like all of KO’s whiskeys, the label celebrates a famous boxer of yore—in this case, Mary “Texas Mamie” Donovan. Memorable!

Laws Whiskey House has six new barrel-finished versions of its Four Grain bourbon. Four—sauternes wine, XO cognac, Cabernet Sauvignon, and ruby port—are available only in Colorado, while two—Moscatel and armagnac—are sold in a few other states.

Finally, Buffalo, New York-based Tommyrotter Distillery is debuting its first whiskeys. Triple Barrel American whiskey was sourced from Indiana and Tennessee, while Napa Valley Heritage Cask bourbon was sourced from Indiana and finished in recharred Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Read on for full details.

This article was updated on 12/15/2017 and 3/21/2018.

Barrell Rye 002

Style: Rye
Origin: Multiple (Poland and Indiana)
Age: 5 years old
Proof: 58.75% ABV
Price: $90
Release: December 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Barrell’s second batch of rye whiskey combines two very different ryes: a malted rye distilled and aged in Poland in new charred oak casks for five years; and a rye distilled and aged in Indiana and Kentucky for over five years.

Barrell 2018 New Year Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Multiple (Kentucky, Indiana, New York, Tennessee, and Texas)
Age: Not stated; barrel ages range from 5 to 14 years old
Proof: 55.6% ABV
Price: $90
Release: December 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Following up on last year’s release of a special blend of bourbons released to celebrate the New Year, Barrell’s 2018 version includes whiskeys from seven different distilleries spread across five states. The bourbons are 5, 7, 9, 10, and 14 years old.

Whisky Advocate says:

Barrell’s inventiveness looks to be on full display here, with a rye that was made in two different countries—and two different styles, malted and unmalted—plus this special New Year’s bourbon that incorporates quite the array of ages and sources. Should be fun ones to taste!

The English Original

Style: Single malt
Origin: England
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $75
Release: December 2017
Availability: 480 bottles for NY, MA, IL, TX, CO, CA, GA, and FL to start, with more coming

Need to know:

The English Whisky Company has rejiggered its core lineup of single malts. The English Original replaces the Classic expression.

The English Smokey

Style: Single malt
Origin: England
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $75
Release: December 2017
Availability: 480 bottles for NY, MA, IL, TX, CO, CA, GA, and FL to start, with more coming

Need to know:

This is The English Whisky Company’s peated single malt, now rebranded as The English Smokey.

 

The English Whisky Company Single Cask Rum Cask No. 0471

Style: Single malt
Origin: England
Age: Not stated
Proof: 57.8% ABV
Price: $156
Release: December 2017
Availability: 360 bottles for the U.S. only

Need to know:

This is an exclusive single cask, cask strength bottling for the United States. The whisky was matured in a rum cask.

Whisky Advocate says:

While The English Whisky Company’s single malts have been available for several years, the distillery recently rebranded its core line and is now relaunching in the U.S. You’re reading it right: the whiskies are now named The English Original and Smokey (not The English Whisky Company). In addition, single cask bottlings like this rum cask release will be available on a limited basis.

Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon

Style: Blend of straight bourbons
Origin: Multiple (Kentucky, Indiana, and New York)
Age: Roughly 3 years old
Proof: 44% ABV
Price: $50
Release: December 2017
Availability: CO, CA, MN, and NE to start, with expansion planned

Need to know:

This new bourbon comes from Old Elk Distillery in Fort Collins, Colorado, where it was cut to proof and blended. The whiskeys used in the blend are a combination of selected barrels from an unnamed Kentucky Distillery and whiskeys that were distilled using Old Elk’s proprietary mashbill and aged at Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt, Colorado and MGP Distillery in Indiana..

Whisky Advocate says:

Greg Metze, formerly master distiller at MGP, has been leading Old Elk as its master distiller since 2016, though he has worked with the brand since 2014. The company has a distillery for production of unaged spirits, but it is not big enough to support its whiskey production goals. Old Elk aims to build a large-scale production distillery eventually.

This article has been updated to reflect new information from Old Elk. The distillery had previously stated that Old Elk includes bourbon from New York’s Finger Lakes Distilling. While Finger Lakes Distilling has created whiskey for future releases of Old Elk, the current bottling does not include any of this whiskey. 

Bare Knuckle Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Virginia
Age: 2 years old
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $41
Release: November 2017
Availability: VA, MD, DE, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know:

This 2 year old bourbon was made with locally grown corn, wheat, and barley at KO Distillery in Manassas, Virginia. The distillery also makes a rye and a wheat whiskey, along with unaged whiskey and gins.

Whisky Advocate says:

In addition to being the initials of its co-founders, KO stands for “knockout,” and the distillery’s whiskeys all feature famous boxers on the labels, including Jack G. Johnson (rye) and Jimmy Gardner (wheat whiskey). Mary “Texas Mamie” Donovan adorns the bourbon label.

Laws Whiskey House 2017 Special Finish Series

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Colorado
Age: Not stated
Proof: 47.5% ABV
Price: $70
Release: Fall 2017
Availability: Varies (some CO-only, some in CO, AR, IL, MO, and WA)

Need to know:

Denver’s Laws Whiskey House is rolling out its annual series of bourbons finished in special barrels. The base whiskey, Laws’ Four Grain bourbon, was aged at least three years, while the finishing periods ranged from 7 to 24 months. The finishing casks include sauternes wine, XO cognac, Cabernet Sauvignon, and ruby port (all released in Colorado only), and Moscatel and armagnac (available in Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington). About 3,600 bottles in total are available.

Whisky Advocate says:

Need to brush up on barrel finishing? We’ve got you covered. These whiskeys from Laws are all available in small quantities, but if you get a chance to try and compare them, let us know what you think!

Tommyrotter Triple Barrel American Whiskey

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Multiple (Indiana and Tennessee)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $39
Release: November 2017
Availability: NJ and NY, expanding to CT and MA in January 2018

Need to know:

This is a blend of two bourbons made in Indiana and a whiskey made in Tennessee, finished in a French oak red wine barrel.

Tommyrotter Napa Valley Heritage Cask Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated
Proof: 47.5% ABV
Price: $70
Release: November 2017
Availability: Limited edition, available in CT, MA, NY, and NJ

Need to know:

This is a sourced bourbon from Indiana that was finished in recharred French oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Buffalo, New York’s Tommyrotter Distillery makes gin and vodka, and has plans to eventually make its own whiskey. In the meantime, it’s using sourced whiskey for these two expressions.

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