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Sagamore Spirit Distillery Opens In Baltimore

April 26th, 2017

Sagamore Spirit Distillery copyBy Susannah Skiver Barton

Charm City just got another attraction that’s sure to entice whiskey fans. After about 18 months under construction, Sagamore Spirit Distillery opened on April 21st in the Port Covington neighborhood on Baltimore’s waterfront. The facility spans five acres and includes a distillery, a processing building, and a visitors center, with restaurant and event space that will open in the fall. Production of Sagamore’s rye whiskey—currently made at MGP—began on April 10th.

Sagamore Spirit launched last year as a blend of two straight rye whiskeys—each with a different proportion of rye in the mash bill—currently made to the company’s specifications at MGP. Founder Kevin Plank—better known as the creator of Under Armour—brought on former MGP master distiller Larry Ebersold to develop the recipe for the rye and oversee contract production. Ebersold will remain on board with the company to help ensure continuity of flavor and quality as Sagamore begins distilling and aging the whiskey itself.

The 22,000-square-foot distillery houses nine 6,500-gallon fermenters, an 8,000-gallon beer well, and a 6,000-gallon mash cooker. There’s both a 24-inch column still from Vendome and a 250-gallon pot still that will be used for research, new product development, and creating special releases. Meanwhile, the processing building contains the bottling line, barrel filler, and dump trough, as well as ten proofing and gauging tanks, each with 1,000-gallon capacity. Limestone-filtered spring water from Sagamore Farm, located 22 miles away in Reisterstown, Maryland, is trucked to the building and used for diluting the core rye whiskey to its ABV of 41.5%. (There’s also a cask-strength version that clocks in at 56% ABV.) All the whiskey ages off-site at a 20,000-barrel barn in North Point, Maryland.

Two distillers, Max Hame and Christopher Schultz, and director of quality Ryan Norwood will oversee production, eventually shifting to bottling 100% house-made whiskey. Though Sagamore Spirit president Brian Treacy has stated “we age to taste” rather than a specific number of years, the company plans to age everything for at least four years. “Consistency in flavor is important to us,” he says. “We are eager to taste the new flavors that emerge from the whiskey made and aged in Maryland. Our expert distilling team will perform quality checks throughout the aging process to learn how Maryland’s flora and fauna interact with the whiskey in the barrels.”

Karuizawa Breaks Auction Record

April 24th, 2017

Whisky Auctioneer, Perth. Auction of the world’s largest known collection of rare and collectable Karuzaiwa whisky from Japan.  photographer Fraser Band     07984 163 256 www.fraserband.co.uk

“The Archer” Karuizawa 1960 (pictured) sold for over $125,000 at auction, while its sister whisky, “The Wanderer,” netted more than $140,000 at a different auction. (Photo by Fraser Band)

By Jonny McCormick

A bottle of Karuizawa 1960 52 year old, nicknamed “The Wanderer,” has broken the record for the most expensive standard-sized bottle of whisky sold at auction, wresting the title from the Yamazaki 50 year old. The record-breaking bid of $141,551/ HK$1.1million was set on April 2nd by Poly Auction Hong Kong (with buyer’s premiums, the total was $166,793/HK$1,298,000). This represents a 29% increase over the previous record of $109,585/HK$850,000 set by Yamazaki 50 year old First Release last October, an indication of the quickening tempo in the global secondary market for rare whiskies.

With only 41 bottles released in 2013, the Karuizawa 1960 52 year old has quickly established itself as one of the most desirable whiskies among top collectors. In 2015, it became the first Japanese whisky to hold the title of most expensive standard-sized bottle sold at auction, a position scotch hasn’t held for over three years. “The Wanderer” wasn’t the only bottling of Karuizawa 1960 52 year old to exceed the prior record this month either: A bottle called “The Archer” was sold by Whisky Auctioneer on April 17th for $125,756/£100,100 at their dedicated Karuizawa auction. The Perth, Scotland-based auction house has delivered a number of spectacular themed auctions over the past year. The 294 lots in April’s Karuizawa auction sold for a combined total of $971,775/£772,038. U.S. buyers were successful in winning 84 bottles, more than bidders from any other country.

There may not be a single Scotch whisky to challenge this record right now, but Sotheby’s Hong Kong set a whisky auction record on the same day as the Poly Auction sale with the Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection. The lot included all six decanters, from the Macallan in Lalique 50 year old through to The Macallan in Lalique 65 year old, plus Lalique glassware and six Macallan Fine and Rare miniatures, all housed in an ebony cabinet. It sold for a hammer price of $810,701/HK$6.3 million, beating Sotheby’s previous Macallan record of $620,000/HK$4 million for the 6-liter bottle of Macallan M in 2014.

Blade and Bow 22 year old, Lord Calvert Black and Rabbit Hole Whiskeys

April 21st, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

The popular Blade and Bow 22 year old bourbon is returning in time for Derby Day, while Lord Calvert has a new Canadian blended whisky and Rabbit Hole Distilling, a new Kentucky whiskey brand, has rolled out two bourbons and a rye.

Blade and Bow 22 year oldBlade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey_Bottle shot copy

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $200
Release: April 2017
Availability: Highly limited

Need to know: Originally launched on Derby Day two years ago, this is a re-release. The first bottling scored a 91 in our Buying Guide.

Whisky Advocate says: Though the brand talks a lot about Stitzel-Weller, this whiskey wasn’t made there. According to a press release, the liquid came from “the distillery historically located at 17th and Breckenridge in Louisville, Ky. And the distillery historically located at 1001 Wilkinson Blvd. in Frankfort, Ky.”—aka Bernheim and Buffalo Trace. It completed maturation and was bottled at the site of the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery. There will be additional re-releases of Blade and Bow 22 year old annually around Derby Day as long as supply exists.

58766 LORD CALVERT BLACK 80 PROOF 750ML 12-INLord Calvert Black

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Canada
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $13-$14
Release: Spring 2017
Availability: Select markets nationwide

Need to know: A new expression in the Lord Calvert range of Canadian whiskies, this 3 year old blend is made with rye, corn, wheat, and barley.

Whisky Advocate says: Lord Calvert Black offers more caramel, vanilla, and spice than the regular expression. A Spiced Peach flavored whisky, priced at $11, is also rolling out.

BourbonOnWhite copyRabbit Hole Straight Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 47.5% ABV
Price: $49
Release: Fall 2016
Availability: Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, with expansion planned

Need to know: Made with a mash bill that’s 70% corn, 10% malted wheat, 10% honey malted barley, and 10% malted barley, this is bourbon is contract-distilled at an undisclosed distillery. The two types of barley plus malted wheat—a highly unusual combination of flavoring grains—are said to bring out apple, custard, and caramel flavors. 

RyeOnWhite copyRabbit Hole Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 47.5% ABV
Price: $59
Release: Fall 2016
Availability: Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, with expansion planned

Need to know: It’s a 95% rye-5% malted barley whiskey, contract-distilled at an undisclosed Kentucky distillery.

Rabbit Hole Straight Bourbon Fingerprint EditionSherryOnWhite copy

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 46.5% ABV
Price: $79
Release: Fall 2016
Availability: Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, with expansion planned

Need to know: This wheated bourbon—the mash bill is 68% corn, 18% wheat, and 14% malted barley—aged for five years in new charred oak barrels. It was then finished in 30 year old Pedro Ximénez sherry casks for 6 months.

Whisky Advocate says: Rabbit Hole is currently building a distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, scheduled to open in 2018. Meanwhile, the company is contract distilling its whiskeys at an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. It also has a London Dry gin that’s finished in a rye barrel, launching this spring.

Dublin Liberties Distillery Breaks Ground

April 19th, 2017

Master distiller Darryl McNally and marketing director Sinead O’Frighil next to the natural water source at the site of The Dublin Liberties Distillery

Master distiller Darryl McNally and marketing director Sinead O’Frighil next to the natural water source at the site of The Dublin Liberties Distillery

Just a few years after Dublin’s first distillery in over a century opened, the city will soon have another. The Dublin Liberties Distillery has started construction work on its facility located at Old Mill Street in the city’s Liberties neighborhood. The €15 million project involves renovating a 300-year-old former mill and tannery building to encompass both the distillery space and a visitors center. The site includes a natural water source that will provide water for the mashing and fermentation processes.

The Dublin Liberties Distillery will be the home of The Dubliner whiskey brand, which currently sources its blend and 10 year old single malt from undisclosed distilleries in Ireland. Master distiller Darryl McNally—who formerly worked at Bushmills for nearly two decades—is overseeing the design and construction of the distillery and will manage all production once it has opened, projected by late spring 2018.

When completed, the Dublin Liberties Distillery will be the third new distillery to open in Dublin in recent years, following Teeling, which started production in 2015, and the Pearse Lyons Distillery, which is set to open later this year. All three distilleries are located in the Liberties, where Irish whiskey production boomed in the 19th century. In addition, Diageo is planning to open Roe & Co. Distillery in the same area in 2019, right down the street from its Guinness Storehouse. Meanwhile, Jameson’s Bow Street Experience is located just across the River Liffey. In a few years, whiskey tourism in Dublin will be a matter of a few steps from one distillery to the next. Great news for whiskey lovers!

Glenfiddich and Balvenie Owner Buys Tuthilltown Spirits

April 18th, 2017

Tuthilltown Spirits cofounder Ralph Erenzo (Photo by Ben Stechschulte)

Tuthilltown Spirits cofounder Ralph Erenzo
(Photo by Ben Stechschulte)

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Seven years after it acquired the Hudson whiskey brand—though not the distillery—from Tuthilltown Spirits, William Grant & Sons has bought the whole facility. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but it includes 36 acres, a restaurant and visitors center, a distillery with a capacity of 110,000 gallons, and several additional spirits brands, including Half Moon gin and Indigenous vodka.

William Grant & Sons is best known as the parent company of the Balvenie and Glenfiddich scotch brands, though it also owns Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, Drambuie liqueur, and Monkey Shoulder blended malt, along with other spirits. In 2010, the company bought the Hudson Whiskey brand from Tuthilltown Spirits cofounders Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee. Hudson’s line includes Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye, New York Corn, Four Grain Bourbon, and Single Malt expressions, among others. The whiskey continued to be made at Tuthilltown’s Gardiner, New York distillery over the last seven years. By purchasing the whole facility, William Grant will be able to invest more in both the Hudson brand and in American craft distilling.

“Over the last several years we’ve seen explosive growth in the American whiskey category, and along with that the Hudson Whiskey brand,” said Jonathan Yusen, president and managing director of William Grant & Sons North America. “Since we’ve owned the brand we’ve been in partnership with Tuthilltown Spirits on everything from laying down whiskey to coming up with innovation initiatives and new variants. It’s not just that the Hudson brand has grown, but that the outlook for growth has become even more rosy, so this acquisition was a natural evolution.”

What this means for fans of Hudson is more whiskey on the shelf, plus potentially new expressions down the road and other developments. In the last year or so, Hudson upgraded its core expressions to full-size bottles after years of being sold in 375-ml. bottles. Tuthilltown’s operations will not be interrupted with the purchase, as both Erenzo and Lee will remain on board at the site, experimenting with other types of spirits such as brandies.

Jim Beam Unveils Chicago Cubs Bottle

April 18th, 2017

JimBeamBatch_Silo__SecondPhoto

By Susannah Skiver Barton

As part of its partnership with the Chicago Cubs, announced earlier this year, Jim Beam is rolling out a limited-edition bottle of its trademark bourbon that celebrates the team’s World Series win last fall. The “Game 7 Batch” purportedly reached maturity—a full four years of age—the very night of the final championship game, November 2, 2016.

Jim Beam spokeswoman Mila Kunis revealed the new bottle this past weekend after throwing the first pitch at Wrigley field before the Cubs’ game versus the Milwaukee Brewers. (The Cubs won, 11 to 6.) The bottle’s label features the Cubs’ signature red and blue and comes packaged with a commemorative blue cap. It will cost $18 a bottle, available at Chicago-area retailers starting in June.

Macallan Masters of Photography Releases 6th Edition

April 17th, 2017

Mac-MOP6-Box_02_Open copyBy Susannah Skiver Barton

The Macallan has unveiled part 6 of its Masters of Photography series, a partnership between the scotch brand and celebrated photographers that has included projects with Annie Liebowitz and Mario Testino, among others. This year’s release features the work of Steven Klein, a frequent collaborator with Madonna, Lady Gaga, and other musicians.

Klein explored the influence of time on Macallan through 10 still images and a short interactive film, which you can experience here. The 53.5% ABV whisky, created by Macallan’s master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno, includes some influence from Rioja wine casks, as well as peat and smoke flavors that echo the industrial setting of Klein’s film.

There are 1,000 bottles of The Macallan Masters of Photography: Steven Klein Edition available worldwide, with 100 of them coming to the U.S. Each bottle is packaged with one of ten different prints, signed by Klein, as well as custom barware tools inspired by celebrated chefs the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain. As with past editions, this one isn’t cheap—around $2,995. If you want to get your hands on one, email inquiries.us@themacallan.com.

New Scotch and Whiskey from Texas

April 14th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week, discover a couple of under-the-radar scotches—Tullibardine and Wolfburn—a series of new whiskeys from Texas, and if you’re feeling flush, a five-figure, half-century Tamdhu.

Tamdhu_50YR_Bottle(tiny)

Tamdhu 50 year old

Style: Single malt scotch
Origin: Speyside
Proof: 55.6% ABV
Price: $20,000
Release: April 2017
Availability: 100 bottles for the world

Need to know: A single cask whisky that matured for 50 years in a first-fill European oak sherry butt, this is the oldest Tamdhu ever released and celebrates the distillery’s 120th anniversary. It was distilled in November 1963 and bottled in March 2017.

Whisky Advocate says: Yes, the price is rather eye-popping, but it’s still less than half-century bottlings from Balvenie ($38,000 at time of release) and Glenfiddich ($26,000)—and it’s a pretty high cask strength to boot.

Tullibardine The MurrayI0008478_the-murray-bottle-only

Style: Single malt scotch
Origin: Highlands
Proof: 56% ABV
Price: $75
Release: Spring 2017
Availability: Nationwide

Need to know: Distilled in 2004, this is a roughly 12 year old whisky and Tullibardine’s first cask-strength release in over a decade.

Whisky Advocate says: The Murray scored a 85 in our Winter 2016 Buying Guide, where reviewer Gavin Smith noted its rich and sweet palate and long cinnamon, licorice, and oak tannin finish.

P0010813_wolfburn-aurora-bottle-without-box-high-resWolfburn Aurora

Style: Single malt scotch
Origin: Highlands
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $63
Release: Spring 2017
Availability: Nationwide

Need to know: Wolfburn is one of Scotland’s newest distilleries—it just launched its first whisky last year—and Aurora is the second U.S. release, a combination of whiskies aged in bourbon and sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says: This unpeated, uncolored, and non-chill filtered whisky is just three years old, but if our review of Wolfburn’s first release is anything to go by, it shows a lot of promise. This is a permanent core expression and will be consistently available.

Devils River WhiskeyDEVILSRIVERHI©jessicagiesey-16-Edit copy

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Texas
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $30
Release: April 2017
Availability: 30,000 bottles for Texas

Need to know: Distilled in pot stills, this high-rye bourbon ages in char #4 oak barrels and is finished off with a proprietary chill-filtration process.

Whisky Advocate says: Devils River only available in Texas for now, but with such a large initial release, we’re betting it will soon expand to other states.

www.joshhuskin.com

www.joshhuskin.com

Ranger Creek .36 Texas Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Texas
Proof: 48% ABV
Price: $35-$40 (375-ml.)
Release: March 2017
Availability: Limited, and available only Texas, New York, and New Jersey

Need to know: Ranger Creek is a “brewstillery”—combination brewery and distillery—located in San Antonio. They’ve been producing whiskey since 2010 but are only just expanding beyond Texas. The initial allocation for New York and New Jersey is small—only 360 bottles of each of these three whiskeys.

Ranger Creek .44 Texas Rye

www.joshhuskin.com

www.joshhuskin.com

Style: Whiskey distilled from rye mash
Origin: Texas
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $35-$40 (375-ml.)
Release: March 2017
Availability: Limited, and available only Texas, New York, and New Jersey

Need to know: Made from 100% rye, this whiskey was aged in used bourbon barrels, so technically it’s a “whiskey distilled from rye mash” per TTB regulations.

www.joshhuskin.com

www.joshhuskin.com

Ranger Creek Rimfire Mesquite Smoked Single Malt Whiskey

Style: Single malt
Origin: Texas
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $35-$40 (375-ml.)
Release: March 2017
Availability: Limited, and available only Texas, New York, and New Jersey

Need to know: Smoked over mesquite rather than peat, this whiskey is an homage to scotch. It was smoked in a rather unorthodox way—in a shipping container.

Whisky Advocate says: Note that anything from Ranger Creek that comes in a 375-ml. bottle was aged in small, 5-gallon barrels. Full-size bottles indicate full-size barrel aging.

Templeton Rye Is Opening Its Own Distillery

April 13th, 2017

Mayor Ken Behrens and Templeton Rye cofounder Keith Kerkhoff broke ground on the Templeton Distillery on April 5th, 2017.

Mayor Ken Behrens and Templeton Rye cofounder Keith Kerkhoff broke ground on the Templeton Distillery on April 5th, 2017.

After years of bottling sourced whiskey blended with a proprietary formula of added flavors to create its unique taste profile, Templeton Rye will soon be distilling. Cofounder Keith Kerkhoff and Templeton, Iowa Mayor Ken Behrens broke ground on a distillery in the town on April 5th. The 34,500-square-foot facility will have a capacity of 500,000 proof gallons, and the site includes a warehouse that can store up to 40,000 barrels. It’s projected to be complete in about 18 months.

The distillery marks a new chapter in Templeton’s brief history. Though the brand claims roots in the Prohibition era, Kerkhoff and Scott Bush founded the current iteration in 2006. The company currently bottles rye whiskey from MGP that’s combined with a proprietary flavoring additive (which is legal in non-straight rye whiskey) and local purified water. With the new distillery coming online in 2018, Templeton will shift to producing its own whiskey—ceasing its relationship with MGP—with the aim of bottling it by 2022.

Upgrade Your Mint Julep With This $1,000 Cup From Woodford Reserve

April 10th, 2017

1000-dollar-julep-cups

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Woodford Reserve—the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby—has unveiled its latest $1,000 Mint Julep Cup. Now in its 12th year, the annual promotion raises funds for equine-related charities—in 2017, the beneficiary is the Kentucky Derby Museum.

This year’s cup pays tribute to the Derby’s origins in British horse racing. After Churchill Downs founder Meriwether Lewis Clark attended the Epsom Derby in England in 1872, he was inspired to launch the Kentucky Derby in the same high-society vein. Created by Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault, the $1,000 Mint Julep Cup’s design and recommended recipe are based on the theme “The Sport of Kings…And Queen(s).” The sterling silver “Noble Cup” features three horses in stride, as well as a crown, a rose, and a horseshoe. Each embellishment is plated in 18-karat gold, and the cup comes with a gold-plated straw. In addition to the $1,000 cup, there’s also a $2,500 “Royal Cup” made of gold-plated sterling silver; it also includes a silver straw. Each cup is presented in a silk bag that calls to mind the “purse” won by horse races’ victors.

Just 90 Noble Cups and 15 Royal Cups are available for purchase through May 6th—go to woodfordreservemintjulep.com to snag yours. The catch? You (or a proxy) have to show up to Churchill Downs on Derby Day to collect it. At the same time you can grab this year’s Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Mint Julep—in a regular cup, if you don’t want to mess up your fancy drinking vessel—which also nods to the race’s English origins by incorporating Pimm’s liqueur and Earl Grey tea bitters. Check out the full recipe below.

Woodford Reserve 2017 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

1½ oz Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
¼ oz Pimm’s Liqueur
½ oz Elderflower Cordial
¼ oz Woodford Reserve Mint Julep Simple Syrup
1 dash Earl Grey bitters
Handful of mint
Garnish: Baby’s breath, mint, and dehydrated edible blue cornflowers

Rub mint around the julep cup, expressing the essential oils. Add remaining ingredients and top with crushed ice. Churn ingredients with a bar spoon distributing the flavor. Top with additional crushed ice. Garnish with a bundle of baby’s breath and mint. Sprinkle with dehydrated edible blue cornflowers.

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