Whisky Advocate

NBA Partners With Jack Daniel’s

February 6th, 2017

JDTW_NBABy Susannah Skiver Barton

There’s never been a better time to be a whiskey-drinking sports fan. The NBA announced a new partnership with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey that will continue over the next several years. The sponsorship agreement covers both the NBA and WNBA, as well as the NBA D-League and USA Basketball, and it starts with a two-day “experiential event” during NBA All-Star Weekend, February 17th-19th, in New Orleans.

Jack Daniel’s currently sponsors five NBA teams—the Atlanta Hawks, the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs—but this new partnership covers the whole organization. During the course of its sponsorship, Jack Daniel’s will host events, media, and hospitality programs throughout the NBA’s arenas. You can also expect to see NBA-themed tie-ins when buying a bottle of Jack off the shelf, and there will be custom ad campaigns linking the two brands.

Glenmorangie Bacalta and a New Wyoming Whiskey

February 3rd, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton 

Glenmorangie has released the eighth whisky in its Private Edition series, and Wyoming Whiskey is launching a sherry-finished bourbon.

Glenmorangie Bacalta - Bottle Shot - Transparent Background copyGlenmorangie Bacalta

Style: Single malt scotch
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $100
Release: February 2017
Availability: 21,600 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know: The latest in Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series, Bacalta is 10 year old Glenmorangie aged in bourbon casks, then finished for two years in American oak casks that were seasoned with Malmsey madeira. “Bacalta” is Scots Gaelic for “baked” and refers to the way madeira is essentially cooked in-cask in the hot sun.

Whisky Advocate says: Drinkers who enjoy sherry-finished Glenmorangie, like Lasanta, will probably find Bacalta to their liking. As with other Private Edition releases, it’s only available for a limited time and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask Sherry-FinishedDouble Cask Bottle Shot.jan17.jpg copy

Style: Straight bourbon
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $60
Release: February 2017
Availability: 660 bottles available in Wyoming, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois, Texas and California

Need to know: This is 5 year old bourbon that has been finished for a few weeks in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels, which the distillery says gives the whiskey notes of dried and stewed fruits, molasses, baking spices, and toasted nuts.

Whisky Advocate says: While this is Wyoming Whiskey’s first barrel finish, cofounder David DeFazio noted in a statement that other finishing experiments may take place in the future. This little Western distillery is one to watch in 2017.

Bruichladdich’s Ex-Master Distiller Joins A New Islay Distillery

February 1st, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

l-r Stewart Laing, Jim McEwan, Andrew Laing, Scott Laing, Photo credit - Ralph Dunning

Stewart Laing, Jim McEwan, Andrew Laing, and Scott Laing toast to Ardnahoe distillery. (Photo by Ralph Dunning)

Legendary master distiller Jim McEwan is taking on a new role as production director of Ardnahoe distillery. McEwan retired in July 2015 from Bruichladdich, where he had been master distiller for 15 years, creating whiskies like the heavily-peated Octomore, as well as The Botanist gin. Prior to that, he had been at Bowmore for 38 years, working his way up from apprentice cooper through positions in the warehouse, blending, and distilling, and finally ending up as the brand’s global ambassador. McEwan never fully stopped working, even in retirement. Since leaving Bruichladdich, he has spent time in Australia, sourcing rainforest botanicals for Brookie’s Byron dry gin, made by Cape Byron distillery.

Ardnahoe will become Islay’s ninth working distillery when it begins production early next year. It’s owned by Hunter Laing & Co., one of the two companies formed after the amicable break-up of Douglas Laing & Co. in 2013. McEwan has long been friends with Stewart Laing, who runs Hunter Laing with his sons Andrew and Scott. The business currently consists of bottling and blending whiskies from other Scottish distilleries under the Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, Hepburn’s Choice, and Sovereign labels, but with McEwan’s involvement, the transition to distilling should be smooth. He’ll begin by helping design the still set-up and, once the distillery is open, will work to perfect the production process and select casks.

Although Ardnahoe is still at least a year away from distilling, Hunter Laing plans to participate in this year’s Islay Festival of Music and Malt, taking place May 26th through June 3rd. The activities will include tastings of casks from Hunter Laing stocks selected by McEwan.

Bardstown Bourbon Company Will Make Bird Dog Whiskey

January 30th, 2017

Biz2By Susannah Skiver Barton

Bardstown Bourbon Company announced a partnership with Western Spirits Beverage Company to produce whiskey for the company’s brands, which include Bird Dog whiskey, Lexington bourbon and Calumet bourbon. The distilling starts this month. Bardstown Bourbon will make whiskey for all three brands which will then be aged at its on-site warehouses. The joint venture is part of Bardstown’s Collaborative Distilling Program—a contract-distilling initiative that currently is completely sold out with around 12 partners. Western Spirits—which doesn’t disclose where its whiskey is currently made—is the first partner to be publicly announced.

Bardstown Bourbon’s current facility, which just started distilling in September 2016, has the capacity to produce 1.5 million proof gallons of whiskey annually, but that won’t be enough for the growing company. It also announced an expansion to double its capacity by July of this year, and will eventually be able to churn out 6 million proof gallons, allowing it to take on new customers and meet the growth needs of its current partners. Bardstown Bourbon’s master distiller is Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer Steve Nally, who made his name at Maker’s Mark and previously worked at Wyoming Whiskey.

Contract distilling is a common part of the whiskey world—with Indiana’s MGP distillery being the most prominent contract distiller—but isn’t often discussed openly by brands that make use of it. Bardstown Bourbon makes no secret of its Collaborative Distilling Program, which works with partner companies to create custom whiskeys, though it leaves it up to them whether or not to disclose their participation. Bardstown Bourbon is also distilling a small amount of whiskey for its own brands—which are not yet announced—and is planning to open a “destination experience” for visitors this summer. In addition to the distillery, the facility will include a visitor center with education, tours, and tastings; a whiskey library; an events space; and, eventually, a hotel and restaurant.

New Bourbon from Wild Turkey, plus a Woodford Reserve Comeback

January 27th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week brings a trio of half-size bottles of straight Kentucky bourbon from the Wild Turkey distillery and Woodford Reserve.

Whiskey Barons Collection

Bond Lillard Rendering 2.10 Front copyThis new range from Campari—which owns Wild Turkey—aims to “recreate historically significant bourbons that were lost after Prohibition,” according to a press release. Although both bourbons were distilled at Wild Turkey, neither Jimmy nor Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey’s co-master distillers, were involved in their creation. A portion of the profits from each bottle will be donated to the restoration of the historic T.B. Ripy house in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Bond & Lillard
Style: Straight bourbon
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $50 (375-ml.)
Release: February 2017
Availability: Wild Turkey visitor center, plus 11 states

Need to know: This bourbon is distilled at Wild Turkey and aged at least seven years. It’s charcoal-filtered, which results in a whiskey that’s lighter in color and flavor.

Whisky Advocate says: Taking the step of charcoal filtering is meant to mimic the whiskey made by Bond & Lillard around the turn of the 20th century. That bourbon won the Grand Prize at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The brand was originally created by John Bond in 1820; his grandson William partnered with his brother-in-law, C.C. Lillard, to create Bond & Lillard in 1869.

Old RipyOld Ripy Rendering 2.11 Front copy
Style: Straight bourbon
Proof: 52% ABV
Price: $50 ($375-ml.)
Release: February 2017
Availability: Wild Turkey visitor center, plus 11 states

Need to know: This is a combination of 8 year old Kentucky straight bourbon with other whiskeys of varying ages, up to 12 years old. It’s distilled at Wild Turkey and non-chill filtered.

Whisky Advocate says: Old Ripy is named after a brand that was originally created in 1868 by Irish immigrant James Ripy and distilled in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, until 1950. Campari consulted with Ripy descendants during project development.

WR_DDO_060415Woodford Reserve Double Double Oaked

Style: Straight bourbon
Proof: 45.2% ABV
Price: $50 (375-ml.)
Release: January 2017
Availability: Distillery, plus select Kentucky retailers

Need to know: This isn’t technically a new whiskey; rather, it’s a re-release of the limited-edition Double Double Oaked that first came out in 2015.

Whisky Advocate says: You’re not seeing double. Double Double Oaked is exactly what it sounds like: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked—which is fully mature Woodford Reserve that undergoes a secondary maturation in a deeply toasted, heavily charred new oak barrel—that is then rested for another year in a second new oak barrel, this one heavily toasted and lightly charred. The distillery explains that this creates a spicier bourbon than the original Double Oaked.

Old Charter Lawsuit Dropped

January 27th, 2017

dsc_0481The lawsuit alleging that Buffalo Trace and parent company Sazerac deliberately misled consumers about the age of Old Charter Bourbon has been voluntarily dismissed, according to a motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Bursor & Fischer on behalf of plaintiff Nicholas Parker. Parker had originally filed the lawsuit in November 2016, alleging seven counts of deceptive acts or practices, false advertising, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. He sought compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, as well as to put a stop to the “illegal practices.”

Recall, Old Charter was previously sold as an 8 year old bourbon (with a 10 year old variant discontinued in 2013). In January 2014, it switched to a no-age-statement expression known as Old Charter 8. The price remained the same, and much of the language and branding on the label was similar to the previous age-statement bottling. Parker’s suit alleged that Old Charter’s quality had declined since the switch, and it estimated a potential class of plaintiffs in the hundreds of thousands.

Sazerac offered no comment on the dismissal, which was filed on January 26th.


Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark Partner with the Chicago Cubs

January 25th, 2017

Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney with Beam Suntory CEO Matt Shattock

Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney with Beam Suntory CEO Matt Shattock

By Susannah Skiver Barton

There’s another reason to celebrate the reigning World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs. Starting this year, two bourbon brands—Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark—are launching partnerships with the team.

As part of a deal made by parent company Beam Suntory, Jim Beam bourbon will have long-term naming rights to a new first base club at Wrigley Field. The club will take two seasons to complete, so for now, expect to see Jim Beam signage and promotions in the upper deck patio where it will eventually be located, as well as throughout the stadium. The Cubs’ spring training home, Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona, will also feature the Jim Beam brand.

You can’t hit the stadium every time you want a drink, however, so Jim Beam is also planning to release a special Chicago Cubs bottling this year. In addition, Maker’s Mark—also part of Beam Suntory’s whiskey portfolio—has launched a limited-edition bottle whose wax dip is red and blue, the Cubs’ team colors. That whiskey is available now at stores throughout Chicagoland. Other Beam Suntory brands, like Hornitos tequila and Effen vodka, will also be featured in the multi-year partnership with the Cubs. The sponsorship makes sense for Beam Suntory as the company recently moved its U.S. headquarters to downtown Chicago.

Although it’s more common to see beer brands backing the big leagues, the Cubs aren’t the first major sports team to have a prominent whiskey partner. In fact, last year’s World Series was sponsored by Evan Williams, and brands like Jack Daniel’s and Crown Royal frequently do tie-ins with teams, stadiums, and events. As whiskey continues growing in popularity, we’ll likely see even more of this kind of activity in the NFL and NBA, as well as MLB. After all, whisky fans already enjoy a drink while cheering on their teams at home or at the bar—why not in-person as well?

What to Drink on Inauguration Day

January 20th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver BartonTwo Term Bourbon

America begins a new chapter in its history today with the inauguration of the 45th President, Donald Trump. Whether celebrating or lamenting this event, you’re probably reaching for a bottle of whiskey, right?

If you want to stay on-theme with the day’s activities, now you can drink Presidential whiskeys. Conceived by Dave Schmier—who founded Redemption Rye, among other whiskey-related accomplishments—and alcohol distributor Michael Cherner of Ledroit Brands, One Term Presidential Dram Straight Rye and Two Term Presidential Dram Straight Bourbon were distilled at MGP in Indiana. The rye was aged for at least four years, while the bourbon is a minimum of eight years old. The project was apparently thought up before the presidential candidates were nominated last year, so any political implications are purely accidental. In a statement, Schmier said, “We aimed to celebrate an important moment in American tradition, without any additional political party affiliation.”

The rye is bottled at 60.45% ABV (120.9 proof) and sells for $80, while the bourbon is 43.5% ABV (97 proof) and sells for $100. Only two barrels of each were produced, so quantities are limited, and you’ll have to travel to Washington, D.C. to get hold of a bottle.

New Laphroaig and Rampur Indian Single Malt Whisky

January 20th, 2017

RampurBy Susannah Skiver Barton

We welcome two new single malts this week—one from India’s far north, and the other from Islay.

Rampur Indian Single Malt

Style: Single malt whisky
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $70
Release: January 2017
Availability: 12 states plus Washington, D.C. with expansion in the works

Need to know: Rampur joins Amrut and Paul John in the ranks of Indian single malt whisky. Unlike the other two brands, which both hail from India’s southern half, Rampur is made at the foot of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh.

Whisky Advocate says: We’ve been impressed with existing Indian single malts like Amrut Spectrum, which just won our World Whisky of the Year award, and look forward to trying this one.

Laphroaig 30 year oldLAPH_30YR_BOTTLE_BOX

Style: Single malt Scotch whisky
Proof: 53.5% ABV
Price: $1,000
Release: December 2016
Availability: Nationwide, but in limited quantities

Need to know: Aged in first- and second-fill bourbon casks, this is a limited-edition expression that won’t come around again.

Whisky Advocate says: With this much age, the whisky loses much of the medicinal peatiness of younger expressions on the palate, but it’s unmistakably still Laphroaig.

Burns Night Source Guide: Whisky, Haggis, Kilts and More!

January 18th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

good-one-no-ipadLongtime lovers of Scotch whisky are usually familiar with Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. The 18th-century bard’s use of the Scots dialect in his compositions made him one of the country’s most beloved figures, and every January 25th, millions of people in Scotland and throughout the world celebrate his birthday with feasting, poetry, and whisky.

As Scotch whisky has grown in popularity in recent years, more people in the U.S. are hosting a Burns Night supper. Presuming you can choose your own Scotch (and if you can’t, consult our Buying Guide), here’s how to celebrate the night in style.


Haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA

What to Eat
No Burns supper is complete without haggis, that humble and unnerving native dish traditionally made from offal and oatmeal cooked in the animal’s stomach. At many Burns Night events, the haggis is led in with live bagpipe music and placed before the host, who then recites Burns’ “Address to a Haggis,” dramatically plunging in a large knife at the lines, “An cut you up wi ready slight/Trenching your gushing entrails bright.”

It’s impossible to track down authentic Scottish haggis in the U.S., since the law prohibits the sale and consumption of certain, ahem, ingredients. But Scottish Gourmet USA makes a version that passes credibly for the real thing, available in 1- and 5-pound versions, as well as a “presentation haggis” that’s sure to wow your dinner guests. As a former resident of Scotland who enjoys the dish quite a bit, I can personally vouch for this domestic version. I serve it the traditional way, with mashed tatties (potatoes) and bashed neeps (turnips—the large yellow ones), and a very satisfying whisky cream sauce, made by heating a about a quarter cup of scotch until it’s reduced by half, then whisking in a cup of heavy cream, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

The Entertainment
Since the evening celebrates Scotland’s national poet, the entertainment revolves around his oeuvre, delivered in the form of toasts. First, there’s a toast to Burns’ immortal memory, which typically includes the recitation of one of his poems. Next, one man offers an Address to the Lassies—a light-hearted and often amusing speech that was traditionally used to thank the women who prepared the meal. One woman then gives a Reply to the Laddies, often responding cheekily to specific points raised in the previous speech. Anyone who wishes can recite a Burns poem or lead the party in a song—you can find Burns’ complete works here. At the end of each toast, guests quaff deeply—so be sure to have plenty of extra whisky on hand.

What to Wear
There’s no uniform required at these events, but if you have the chance to wear a kilt, take it. Kilts are comfortable; they draw the attention of others in the room; and they lend a certain gravitas to the occasion. A kilt-wearer often seems more interesting and enigmatic to other people.

For the month of January, you can rent a kilt with all the requisite accessories starting around $130, plus shipping, from Kilt Rental USA. There are also any number of other online shops ready to kit you out. Like a tuxedo, a kilt is tailored to measure—no need to worry about it falling off!

Burdick_RobertBurnsBoxAsmt_Al Karevy

Robert Burns Collection from L.A. Burdick Chocolates

The Dessert
As the evening winds down, you’ll probably want one more whisky and something sweet to pair with it. Or you could combine the two with whisky-filled chocolates, like these made by L.A.Burdick specifically for Burns Night and filled with Macallan, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park, and Lagavulin, or these from Compartés, filled with ganache that’s infused with Macallan 18.

And if you do nothing else on January 25th, be sure to raise a dram to the man who gave us these immortal lines,

“‘Life’s cares they are comforts’—a maxim laid down
By the Bard, what d’ye call him, that wore the black gown;
And faith I agree with th’ old prig to a hair,
For a big-belly’d bottle’s a heav’n of a care.”

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