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New Straight Rye Whiskey, Aged Bourbon, and A Very Old Single Malt Scotch

January 13th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week we have a new straight rye from Ezra Brooks, a new batch of The Exclusive Malts’ single cask bottlings, a very limited 16 year old bourbon, and a whopper of a 50 year old Dalmore.

Ezra Brooks Straight RyeEzra Brooks Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye whiskey
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $19-$22
Release: January 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: The Ezra Brooks range currently includes a straight bourbon, a 7 year old bourbon, a blended whiskey, and a bourbon cream liqueur, all priced for everyday drinking.

Whisky Advocate says: Brand owner Luxco—which also produces the David Nicholson, Rebel Yell, and Blood Oath whiskey brands—is building a new distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Lux Row Distillers will make all of those bourbons when it opens in 2018.

The Exclusive Malts Single Cask Bottlings

The Exclusive Malts Glen Moray 2007 9 year oldem-12-glen-moray-bottle-transparent-tiny
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 55.7% ABV
Price: $85
Release: January 2017
Availability: 220 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Malts Caol Ila 2006 10 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 57.1% ABV
Price: $150
Release: January 2017
Availability: 319 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Malts “Croftengea” 2006 10 year old (Distilled at Loch Lomond distillery)em-12-croftengea-bottle-transparent-tiny
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 55.5% ABV
Price: $100
Release: January 2017
Availability: 279 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Malts Tomintoul 2006 10 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 56.2% ABV
Price: $105
Release: January 2017
Availability: 285 bottles for the U.S.

em-12-balmenach-bottle-transparent-tinyThe Exclusive Malts Balmenach 2003 13 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 57.8 % ABV
Price: $125
Release: January 2017
Availability: 221 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Malts Benrinnes 1995 20 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 52.7% ABV
Price: $170
Release: January 2017
Availability: 261 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Blend 1980 35 year oldem-11-1980-35yr-blend-tiny
Style: Blended Scotch whisky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $200
Release: January 2017
Availability: 720 bottles for the U.S.

The Exclusive Malts Port Dundas 1991 25 year old
Style: Single grain Scotch whisky
Proof: 53.6% ABV
Price: $175
Release: January 2017
Availability: 264 bottles for the U.S.

em-12-invergordon-bottle-transparent-tinyThe Exclusive Malts Invergordon 1972 43 year old
Style: Single grain Scotch whisky
Proof: 48.2% ABV
Price: $260
Release: January 2017
Availability: 229 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know: Part of the Creative Whisky Company, The Exclusive Malts doesn’t limit itself to just malts, as evidenced by the two single grains and one blended Scotch whisky available in the current batch of releases. The blended whisky is a combination of Speyside and Highland malts, plus a small amount of grain whisky, and it spent its whole life in a first-fill oloroso sherry butt.

Whisky Advocate says: How often do you see a 35 year old blended Scotch whisky? The 21 year old expression scored a 92 in our Buying Guide, and many of the Exclusive Malts’ past releases have scored in the high 80s and the 90s, so you may find them well worth the price.

J.A. Magnus ReserveMAGNUSRESERVE2016_1221_165250-5939_DVS copy

Style: Straight bourbon whiskey
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $1,000
Release: January 2017
Availability: 192 bottles for sale only in Washington, D.C.

Need to know: A combination of 16 year old and 18 year old bourbons from MGP, this whisky was blended by Nancy “The Nose” Fraley.*

Whisky Advocate says: Jos. A. Magnus & Co. was founded in 2015 in Washington, D.C., by Jimmy Turner, the great-grandson of Joseph Alexander Magnus, a pre-Prohibition distiller. The distillery is currently making its own whiskey in addition to sourcing from MGP.

The Dalmore 50 year oldthe-dalmore-50-11-HR

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: £50,000 (about $61,000)
Release: January 2017
Availability: Up to 50 bottles for the world

Need to Know: The whisky was laid down in 1966 in bourbon casks, then transferred to Matusalem oloroso sherry casks in 2003. It was further matured in colheita port pipes between 2012 and January 2016, when it was transferred to bourbon barrels once again. Finally, from November 2016, the whisky was in Champagne casks from Domaine Henri Giraud for a 50-day finish. Whew!

Whisky Advocate says: We just honored Dalmore‘s master blender Richard “The Nose” Paterson* with our Lifetime Achievement Award, and this bottling celebrates his 50-year career in the whisky industry. It comes in a Baccarat crystal decanter that’s embellished with a solid silver stag and packaged in an elaborate presentation box.

*Yes, both Nancy and Richard have the nickname “The Nose.” 

Bourbon Trail Airports Upgrade Their Whiskey Options

January 12th, 2017

  By Susannah Skiver Barton

book and bourbonVisitors headed home from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail now have a reason to get to the airport early. Both Louisville International Airport and Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport are opening new bourbon-centric venues to allow travelers to enjoy one last taste of the good stuff before boarding their planes.

At Louisville’s airport, Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen recently opened, taking the place of a restaurant that focused on the Woodford Reserve brand. The new bar and restaurant features a wide array of Kentucky-made whiskeys. It’s designed to have the look and feel of a library, from leather-bound books on display to “library cards,” featuring classic cocktail recipes, which guests can take with them. In keeping with that theme, Book & Bourbon also aims to provide education about whiskey and distilling. Guests can peruse books about bourbon and Kentucky history, as well as explore different bourbons on iPads. The restaurant’s servers are trained to answer questions about bourbon production, history, and tasting notes.

The Peaches & Beam cocktail

The Peaches & Beam cocktail

Book & Bourbon has over 85 bourbons, ryes, and American whiskeys, in addition to other spirits, beer, and wine. Guests can choose from a number of whiskey flights which start at $10 and go up to $101 for a selection of rare and allocated bourbons, like George T. Stagg, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, and Pappy Van Winkle. The venue also has an extensive cocktail menu that ranges from classics like the Mint Julep and the Old Fashioned to signature concoctions such as the Peaches & Beam, which features Jim Beam bourbon, peaches, basil, and apple juice. Book & Bourbon’s food menu focuses on Southern classics like buttermilk fried chicken, deviled eggs, and pecan pie.

Meanwhile, Blue Grass Airport is set to open a location of Cork & Barrel Wine & Bourbon Bar in the spring, most likely in April. The venue will focus on retail, allowing customers to buy a bottle or two of whiskey to take home, and will also be able to offer samples. “The whole concept of our retail space is to help educate our customers on both Kentucky distilleries and the process of making bourbon,” says owner Jim Taylor. The store will offer around 200 bourbons and whiskeys from Kentucky and other states, including special barrel picks that are exclusive to Cork & Barrel—and some that are available at the airport location only.

A rendering of Cork & Barrel in Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, set to open in April 2017

A rendering of Cork & Barrel in Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, set to open in April 2017

“Our barrel picks will be our spotlight,” explains Taylor, who says he’s already selected an 8 year old Buffalo Trace and two Woodford Reserve barrels. “Our choices were complete brackets of the regular Woodford product. One shows very fruit and floral notes while the other has a more dark, cinnamon, and toasty profile. These are great examples of why barrel picks are so appreciated by the bourbon drink who wants to taste ‘outside the lines’ of a regular release.” Cork & Barrel will have selections from Jefferson’s, Knob Creek, Old Forester, and six to eight additional distilleries by the time the store opens. It will also sell bourbon-related paraphernalia and food items, wine, and craft beer products.

Interestingly, the store’s exterior will feature a barrel rick made of timbers from the Old Crow Distillery outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. That facility was bought in 2013 by Deviant Distillers—now Glenns Creek Distillery. The company uses a microdistillery set-up to produce OCD #5 bourbon and a rum, and it also bottles rye and bourbon made at MGP in Indiana. The timbers likely came from the break-up of old rickhouses at the distillery prior to the 2013 sale. If you happen to pass through Blue Grass Airport once the store is open, take a look and let us know what you think!

Parker Beam, Longtime Master Distiller at Heaven Hill, Has Passed Away

January 9th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

parker-in-rickhouse-copyThe whiskey world shines a little less brightly today with the death of Parker Beam, who passed away last night. The longtime master distiller at Heaven Hill, an independent, family-owned distilled spirits company based in Bardstown, Kentucky, Parker had been fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) for the last six years—a public battle that brought the entire Kentucky bourbon community out to rally around him and push for a cure.

Parker grew up learning from his father, Earl Beam, who was master distiller at Heaven Hill before him. Parker started his official career in 1960, although he had worked odd jobs at the distillery even as a child. He became master distiller in 1975, and over the course of his career, he was an industry leader in innovation and quality through brands like Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. He had been master distiller emeritus at Heaven Hill since 2013, when he passed the reins to his son, Craig.

whiskyfest_08_parker_beam-9587

Parker was honored at WhiskyFest 2013. (Photo by Shannon Sturgis)

Parker’s prowess as a master distiller became legendary over the course of his career, and he was honored with Whisky Advocate’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He also netted two Whisky Advocate American Whiskey of the Year awards for Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 year old bourbon in 2008 and Parker’s Heritage Collection “Golden Anniversary” bourbon in 2009. In 2013, after Parker announced news of his illness publicly, his colleagues from Kentucky’s leading distilleries—including Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey, Fred Noe of Jim Beam, Jim Rutledge of Four Roses, Chris Morris of Woodford Reserve, Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace, and Greg Davis of Maker’s Mark—each donated a bottle of bourbon, which Parker blended, along with a bottle of Heaven Hill bourbon, to create a special whiskey called Master Distillers’ Unity. Whisky Advocate editor and publisher John Hansell and some of the contributing distillers, as well as Craig Beam, honored Parker that year at WhiskyFest New York, leading a special tasting of Unity. Only two bottles of the whiskey were made available for purchase at auction, resulting in a donation of $8,500 to the ALS Association. In addition, since 2013, Heaven Hill has donated a portion of sales of each year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection bourbon to the ALS Association’s Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund, with over half a million dollars raised so far.

“The whiskey industry lost a legend,” says Hansell. “Parker was one of the most passionate, hardest working people I’ve ever met. Every bottle of whiskey he helped produce was synonymous with quality. But more importantly, we lost a member of our whiskey family. That’s how I’ve always felt about Parker—as family—because that’s how he and his lovely wife Linda always treated me. And I know that everyone else whose lives he touched feels the same way.”

Parker is survived by his wife, Linda, his son, Craig, and numerous family members and loved ones, including his colleagues at Heaven Hill.

New Glen Moray Age Statement Whiskies, Single Cask Bottlings, And More

January 6th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week it’s all about scotch. Read on for freshly launched single cask bottlings from Chieftain’s and newcomer Chapter 7, plus a whole new range of age statement whiskies from Glen Moray and a recently released Kilchoman.

Glen Moray 12 year old, 15 year old, and 18 year old single maltsglen-moray-heritage-12-years-old-1-2-hr

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 40% ABV (12 and 15 year olds), 47.2% ABV (18 year old)
Price: $40 (12 year old), $55 (15 year old), $90 (18 year old)
Release: December 2016
Availability: Widely available, although the 18 year old is a smaller release than the other two

Need to know: A new range from the Speyside distillery, the 12 and 18 year old expressions are matured in bourbon casks, while the 15 year old is a mixture of sherry and bourbon casks.

Whisky Advocate says: This new lineup complements Glen Moray’s no-age-statement Classic range, and its Elgin Reserve tier, which includes the 25 year old Port Cask Finish. Glen Moray 10 year old Chardonnay Cask is being discontinued.

Chapter 7 19 year oldchapter7-19yo

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 56.2% ABV
Price: $180
Release: November 2016
Availability: 270 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know: This whisky comes from an undisclosed Highlands distillery and is exclusive to the U.S. market.

Whisky Advocate says: Chapter 7 is a new independent bottler based in Switzerland which has been operating since September 2014. Importer ImpEx Beverages notes that the whisky has aromas of “malt loaf and Christmas cake,” with a nutty and sherried palate.

Chieftain’s Single Cask Bottlingschieftains-bowmore-tinypng

Chieftain’s Bowmore 2002 13 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $130
Release: November 2016
Availability: 652 bottles for the U.S.

Chieftain’s Glen Grant 1997 19 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $125
Release: November 2016
Availability: 487 bottles for the U.S.

Chieftain’s Glen Keith 1993 23 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $175
Release: November 2016
Availability: 219 bottles for the U.S.

Chieftain’s Linkwood 1991 24 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $175
Release: November 2016
Availability: 269 bottles for the U.S.

Chieftain’s Glenrothes 1997 19 year oldchieftains-glenrothes-tinypng
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 53.2% ABV
Price: $165
Release: November 2016
Availability: 437 bottles for the U.S.

Chieftain’s Glenturret 1990 25 year old
Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 49.7% ABV
Price: $210
Release: November 2016
Availability: 397 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know: The Chieftain’s range comes out twice a year. It’s bottled by Ian MacLeod Distillers, which also owns Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Smokehead, and Sheep Dip, among other Scotch whisky brands.

Whisky Advocate says: The Glenturret would make a fun (and probably satisfying) comparison with Famous Grouse, which uses up most of that distillery’s production. And the Glen Keith is a rare find, as the distillery was mothballed between 1999 and 2012 and most of its production before and after the shuttering has been used in blends.

Kilchoman Original Cask Strengthcask-strength-bottle

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 56.9% ABV
Price: $110
Release: December 2016
Availability: 269 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know: This is the second release of Kilchoman’s Original Cask Strength and was matured in quarter casks.

Whisky Advocate says: A quarter cask is, well, roughly one-quarter the size of a 500-liter butt, meaning the whisky comes into more wood contact during maturation. Expect this one to show notes of caramel and vanilla as a result.

Catoctin Creek Sells Minority Stake to Constellation Brands

January 6th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Scott Harris Becky Harris Catoctin Creek distillery

Scott and Becky Harris (Photo by Kristen Dill)

Last October, Constellation Brands caught the craft whiskey industry by surprise when it bought Utah’s High West distillery in a high profile bidding war for approximately $160 million. However, another earlier craft distiller investment by Constellation was revealed in the company’s quarterly earnings report on January 5th. During the third quarter of 2016, the company took a minority stake in Purcellville, Virginia’s Catoctin Creek distillery. No sale price has been disclosed, but the investment will allow Catoctin Creek to increase its production, expand into new markets, and hire more staff, according to cofounder and general manager Scott Harris.

Scott and his wife, Becky Harris, founded Catoctin Creek in 2009; Becky serves as president and chief distiller. The distillery makes Roundstone Rye Whisky, Rabble Rouser Rye Whisky, and Braddock Oak Rye Whisky (all spelled without the ‘e’ in a nod to the founders’ Scottish heritage), as well Mosby’s Spirit unaged whisky, Watershed Gin and several aged brandies made from Virginia wine grapes and other fruit. It has also released a number of limited-edition products, including Kings Mountain American Malt Whisky, which scored an 86 in our Summer 2016 Buying Guide. The whiskies and gin are all made from organic ingredients.

With Constellation’s backing, Cactoctin Creek plans to double its production this year. According to Scott, the distillery sold about 6,600 six-pack cases of its products in 2016—mostly Roundstone Rye. All that extra whisky will make its way to 25 states, so if it’s not currently available where you live, that may be changing soon. In order to support the growth, Catoctin Creek is adding new production equipment, a new warehouse, and new employees. The distillery’s current staff will all remain in place.

In addition to the High West acquisition, Constellation took a partial stake in Bardstown Bourbon Company last year, and we’re guessing that the buying spree isn’t over. Watch this space—when news of the next sale breaks, we’ll let you know.

Tullamore D.E.W. and a Brew—Coming to a City Near You

January 4th, 2017

d-e-w-and-a-brew-pairing-copyBy Susannah Skiver Barton

Tullamore D.E.W. is bringing back the boilermaker with a roving “D.E.W and a Brew” tour this winter. The brand wants to educate consumers about how different beers complement the flavors of the Irish whiskey. In partnership with the locally focused social publication Time Out, Tullamore D.E.W. brand ambassador Jane Maher will visit breweries and bars in eleven U.S. cities to lead consumer events that showcase local beer pairings. Nine additional cities will feature D.E.W. and a Brew drink specials in local bars and at breweries where it’s legal to serve spirits.

The tour starts on January 9th at Santa Monica Brew Works in Los Angeles and wraps up at BuckleDown Brewing in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. A full list of participating breweries is below. Events will vary from state to state, and there’s a sweepstakes open to anyone who wants to win a trip to Ireland. Best of all, on St. Paddy’s Day, some breweries, such as Portland’s Cascade Brewing, Tenaya Creek Brewery in Las Vegas, and Phoenix’s Uncle Bear’s Brewery, are planning to release limited-edition beers designed specifically for Tullamore D.E.W.

You can check dewandabrewtour.com for details about each tour stop—including dates—as they become available. Let us know if you already have a favorite beer and whiskey pairing—or if you discover a new one!

D.E.W. and a Brew Tour

Consumer events led by Jane Maher in bold

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury Park, NJ)
Berkshire Brewing Co. (South Deerfield, MA)
Brenner Brewing Co. (Milwaukee, WI)
Bronx Brewery (New York, NY)
BuckleDown Brewing (Lyons, IL)
Cascade Brewing (Portland, OR)
Drop-In Brewing Co. (Middlebury, VT)
Friends & Allies Brewing (Austin, TX)
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. (Madison, WI)
Land-Grant Brewing Co. (Columbus, OH)
Magnolia Brewery (San Francisco, CA)
Music City Beer Co. (Nashville, TN)
NOLA Brewing Co. (New Orleans, LA)
Odell Brewing Co. (Fort Collins, CO)
Outer Light Brewing Co. (Groton, CT)
Rainier Beer (Seattle, WA)
Santa Monica Brew Works (Santa Monica, CA)
Tenaya Creek Brewery (Las Vegas, NV)
Uncle Bear’s Brewery (Phoenix, AZ)
Upland Brewing Co. (Bloomington, IN)

New Whisky Releases: Texas Bourbon, 50 Year Old Bowmore, and A Holiday Treat

December 23rd, 2016

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week brings an array of expressions, from bourbon, rye, and Canadian whisky to single malts from Ireland and Scotland—plus a whiskey liqueur, since it’s the holiday season and even die-hard whisky lovers enjoy a sweet treat from time to time.

Bushmills 16 year old and 21 year old single malts2-16-yo-lifestyle-bottle-shot

Style: Irish single malt whiskey
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $70 (16 year old), $121 (21 year old)
Release: December
Availability: Widely available, but in limited amounts

Need to know: Both whiskeys are triple-distilled, and both are aged in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks before undergoing secondary maturation. The 16 year old is married for nine months in port pipes, while the 21 year old spends two years in madeira casks.

Whisky Advocate says: Though technically not new products, Bushmills only releases these whiskeys once a year, and fans will want to snap them up quickly.

Sagamore Spirit Cask Strength Rye Whiskeydsc_0675_edited-copy

Style: Straight rye whiskey
Proof: Varies—around 55.5 to 56% ABV
Price: $74
Release: December
Availability: Limited amounts for Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C., with permanent availability at the distillery once it’s open

Need to know: Sagamore Spirit released its first whiskey—a 41.5% ABV rye sourced from MGP—in May 2016, and this is the cask-strength version, aged over three years. The company is building a distillery in Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood.

Whisky Advocate says: Sagamore Spirit founder Kevin Plank is better known as the creator of Under Armour. He intends to shift production of the whiskey from MGP to the new distillery once it’s open, and in fact, former MGP master distiller Larry Ebersole has been consulting on the project.

Firestone & Robertson TX Straight Bourbonfr_tx-straight-bourbon-bottle-shot-copy

Style: Straight bourbon
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $50
Release: December
Availability: Limited; available at the distillery and select Dallas/Fort Worth retailers

Need to know: Aged four and a half years, this bourbon is made with corn and wheat grown in-state, and the distillery cultivated a wild yeast strain from a pecan tree located in Glen Rose, Texas.

Whisky Advocate says: Firestone & Robertson has previously released a blended whiskey made with sourced product. This is the distillery’s first whiskey made entirely in-house.

Glynnevan Cabot Triple Barrelled Canadian Rye Whiskyglynnevan-cabot-triple-barrelled-whisky-bottle

Style: Canadian
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $55 (Canadian)
Release: December
Availability: Nova Scotia initially, with broader distribution in 2017

Need to know: This whisky is sourced from elsewhere in Canada and finished in barrels that previously held Fortress Caribbean rum.

Whisky Advocate says: Authentic Seacoast Distilling Company claims this is Canada’s only triple-barreled whisky. The company also offers Glynnevan Double Barrelled Canadian Rye Whisky.

Bowmore 1961 50 year oldbm-1961-50yo-btlclsbx-copy

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 40.7% ABV
Price: $23,000
Release: December
Availability: 50 bottles for the world

Need to know: This is the final release in Bowmore’s 1961 batch, but don’t fret: it’s also the first of a new six-part 50 year old collection. Bowmore will release a new 50 year old bottling each year for the next six years, starting with this one.

Whisky Advocate says: The price tag isn’t for the faint of heart, but when we last reviewed this whisky in the Spring 2014 Buying Guide, it was even higher. The whisky also scored a 95—one of many scores in the mid-to-high 90s for 1960s Bowmore—so for some, it may be worth the coin.

And because ‘tis the season…

Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur750ml-copy

Style: Irish whiskey liqueur
Proof: 17% ABV
Price: $25
Release: December
Availability: Widely available in 17 states

Need to know: Kerrygold is well known for its butter and other dairy products, so it makes sense that if they were to get into spirits, it would be with a cream liqueur. This one includes Irish cream, chocolate, and Irish whiskey.

Whisky Advocate says: Okay, it’s not a whiskey, but who doesn’t love an indulgent treat at this time of year? Splash some in your coffee or pour it over ice cream—trust us, you’ll enjoy it.

Sazerac Buys Popcorn Sutton’s Distillery—But Not The Whiskey

December 22nd, 2016

john-lunn-1

John Lunn, who previously worked at the George Dickel distillery, will remain Master Distiller at Sazerac’s distillery in Newport, Tennessee.

 By Susannah Skiver Barton

Sazerac, the company that makes Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle, among numerous other brands, announced it has purchased the Newport, Tennessee distillery where Popcorn Sutton’s Whiskey is made for an undisclosed price. The purchase did not include the Popcorn Sutton brand, but did include space for barrel storage. All employees will keep their jobs, including Master Distiller John Lunn and Master Blender Allisa Henley, both of whom joined the distillery from the George Dickel distillery—Lunn in March 2015 and Henley this past July.

The move gives Sazerac entry into the Tennessee whiskey category, which is dominated by Jack Daniel’s and includes a few other much smaller brands, notably Dickel. Sazerac intends to modify the distillery’s pot stills to enable the Lincoln County process—the filtration of the new whiskey through charcoal before barreling and the hallmark of Tennessee whiskey, according to state law. The modified stills should be producing real Tennessee whiskey by early 2017. Company spokeswoman Amy Preske says, “The plan is to make a variety of whiskeys and launch them only when they are fully aged, no shortcuts will be taken.” In the future, Sazerac will likely give the distillery a new name.

Popcorn Sutton’s Whiskey is an unaged corn whiskey and as such can’t be called Tennessee whiskey (although it is whiskey that is made in Tennessee). No word yet on what will happen to that brand, but we will post updates as they become available.

Whiskey Cocktails for the Holidays

December 22nd, 2016

By Susannah Skiver Barton

When you get in a festive mood, sometimes a simple pour of whisky isn’t enough. Sometimes you want to trim your drink to match your tree. You may even feel adventurous: after all, what good is that bar set you got last Christmas if you only use it for Manhattans?

If you want to concoct something extra-special, we’ve rounded up a few whiskey cocktail recipes from top bars’ holiday menus. Whether you’re in the mood for a hot or cold drink, or feel like bourbon, rye, or Irish whiskey, you’ll find something suitable to toast this special time of year.

Lady Macbeth’s Secrlady-macbeths-secret-recipeet Recipe
From LOCL at the Nylo Hotel

Ingredients:
1 ½ oz. Knappogue Castle 12 year old Irish whiskey
3 oz. apple cider
½ oz. Earl Grey tea syrup (see note)
2 oz. sparkling wine
Lemon twist

Directions: Shake all ingredients with a few ice cubes and pour into a mug. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist. To make a hot version, stir all the ingredients together in a mug and top with hot water.

Note: To make Earl Grey tea syrup, heat 4 cups water with 4 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved and allow to cool. Steep 1 cup Earl Grey tea leaves for 24 hours; then strain and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

do_jams_101616_010The Spice
From Jams at 1 Hotel Central Park

Ingredients:
2 oz. Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey
6 oz. Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice herbal tea
Dollop of whipped cream
Pinch of cinnamon
Homemade cinnamon toast crunch

Directions: Stir together whiskey and tea, then top with whipped cream and cinnamon. Garnish with cinnamon toast crunch. (To make your own, toast bread with cinnamon and sugar and cut it into strips.)

oleanders-old-oscar-photo-by-ideawork-studios-brian-bentonOld Oscar
From Oleanders Restaurant & McCarren Rooftop

Ingredients:
1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve bourbon
½ oz. Amaro Montenegro
½ oz. Ancho Reyes liqueur
½ oz. Campari
3 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate bitters
Orange slice

Directions: In a mixing glass, stir all ingredients until chilled and strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange slice.

Very Merrybar-54-very-merry
From Bar 54 at the Hyatt Centric Times Square

Ingredients:
2 oz. chai-infused Bulleit Rye whiskey (see note)
¾ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
¼ oz. egg white
Star anise

Directions:Shake rye, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white with ice and strain into a couple glass. Garnish with star anise.

Note: To make chai-infused rye, steep 3 tablespoons loose chai in one bottle of Bulleit rye for 15 minutes, then strain.

And if you’re feeling really ambitious…

Puck’s Shadow pucks-shadow
From LOCL at the Nylo Hotel

Ingredients:
1 bottle Redemption bourbon
12 oz. Giffard Banane du Brésil banana liqueur
6 oz. Rapa Giovanni walnut liqueur
20 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
Everclear
Lime
Marshmallow

Directions: Stir all ingredients together in a punch bowl. This is perfect for serving a crowd. Make the batch ahead of time, and when it comes time to serve each person, stir 2 ¼ oz. in a glass with ice, then strain into a rocks glass. Add drama by filling half a lime with Everclear or another high-proof grain alcohol, floating it on top, and lighting it on fire, topping the flame with a skewered marshmallow.

Whisky Advocate’s 23rd Annual Distiller of the Year Award

December 21st, 2016

High West Distillery

When we named David Perkins, founder of High West Distillery, our “Pioneer of the Year” for 2010, it was a controversial decision. Now, six years later and following the recent sale of the company to Constellation Brands for approximately $160 million, we expect there will still be some naysayers. Yes, High West, a craft distiller based in Utah, is a great American success story. However, their success is not the reason for our recognition, but just one more result of what whisky enthusiasts know to be true: High West delivers innovative and delicious whiskeys, expands the definition of what it is to be a distiller, and pioneered a successful new paradigm for craft distilling.still_topangle

High West is a distillery—two in fact, one in Park City and the other at Wanship, Utah’s Blue Sky Ranch. High West master distiller Brendan Coyle produces whiskeys, including High West Silver Whiskey Western Oat and Valley Tan, an interpretation of historic 19th century Utah whiskey that first appeared in 2011. However, Perkins launched his enterprise and earned his reputation with his innovative blending of sourced whiskeys—like Rendezvous Rye, a blend of straight rye whiskeys, and Campfire, a blend of scotch, bourbon, and rye—reviving some forgotten categories of American whiskey, and creating new styles of whiskey in the process. High West’s quest for quality and fresh approach of using total transparency when others were less forthcoming was a gamble at the time. Whiskey drinkers validated High West’s efforts based on the quality and integrity of the whiskeys. Now proven, this model of sourcing whiskey while your own distillate ages has been accepted by consumers and adopted by other craft whiskey distillers.

highwestdistillerywanshipwintercloseOf course, American distillers have blended and sourced whiskey before, but High West doesn’t stop there. Their High West Distillery & Saloon, with a second location in the Salt Lake City Airport, and trailblazing endeavors that include bottling barrel-aged whiskey cocktails and a 14 year old light whiskey—one of the only ones on the market—are notable individually. Taken together, they help redefine what it is to be a distiller.

Perkins and High West have never shied away from controversy in order to bring great whiskey to more people, and the recent sale strikes us as in keeping with that effort. The greatest challenge facing whiskey aficionados today is not a lack of quality, but a lack of availability. It’s the complaint that we hear most often. We admire a distiller who can draw great whiskey from the still. We also admire a distiller who uses all the skills at their disposal—sourcing, tasting, blending, inventing, experimenting, distributing—in order to deliver great whiskey that makes our drinking experiences more fun and exciting.—Jeffery Lindenmuth

That’s it for our Whisky Advocate Awards this year! Check out the full list of honorees here.

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