Booker’s Kathleen’s Batch, Blood Oath Pact No. 4 & More New Whisky

While many whisky lovers will be enjoying a drop of the Irish this week (and if you need some suggestions, here are 17 new Irish whiskeys to try), there are still plenty of bourbons, scotches, and other whiskies to get your hands on.

Booker’s is rolling out the first of four 2018 releases. Kathleen’s Batch, named for longtime brand ambassador and friend of Booker Noe Kathleen DiBenedetto, was aged for 6 years, 3 months, and 14 days, and is bottled at 63.7% ABV. Having tasted it myself during the selection process, I can say with confidence that this will please avid Booker’s fans.

Another limited-edition bourbon, Blood Oath has released Pact No. 4. This year, the whiskey—whose formula changes with each “pact”—combines three bourbons, including one finished in toasted oak.

A whole slew of new single malts from BenRiach and its sister distillery, GlenDronach, are hitting shelves, including BenRiach Classic Cask Strength Batch 2 and a duo of 21 year olds—the unpeated Classic and the peated Temporis. There are also two single cask BenRiachs ($95 and $110) and two single cask GlenDronachs ($675 and $1,100).

Meanwhile, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Tennessee has a new special edition of its sourced Belle Meade bourbon. The first in a series of distillery-only releases dubbed the Craftsman Cask Collection, this 10 year old bourbon underwent a finishing period in a Mourvèdre wine barrel from California.

After its recent release of The Winter Queen, Fusion Whisky has revealed its next combination scotch-world whisky blend. The Brisbane includes aged single malts from Glen Garioch and Glen Grant, as well as a 5 year old single malt aged in apera (Australian sherry-style wine) casks from Starward Distillery.

Finally, Woodford Reserve has unveiled the 2018 edition of its special Kentucky Derby bottle. This year’s label was designed by Keith Anderson, a Louisville, Kentucky artist and employee of Woodford’s parent company, Brown-Forman. Read on for full details.

Booker's 2018-01 "Kathleen's Batch"

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 6 years, 3 months, and 14 days
Proof: 63.7% ABV
Price: $70-$75
Release: March 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

The first of four Booker’s batches to be released in 2018, “Kathleen’s Batch” is named for Kathleen DiBenedetto, a longtime brand ambassador for Jim Beam and friend of Booker Noe. This batch clocks in at 127.4 proof.

Whisky Advocate says:

As one of the participants in the “Booker’s Roundtable” that selected this whiskey, I am confident in saying that this is a top-notch batch of Booker’s. Although to be fair, Booker’s is more or less guaranteed to please fans of high-proof, flavor-packed bourbon.

Blood Oath Pact No. 4

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated, but at least 9 years old
Proof: 49.3% ABV
Price: $100
Release: March 2018
Availability: 36,000 bottles

Need to know:

The 2018 release of Blood Oath—whose formula changes from year to year—contains three bourbons, all from Kentucky: a 12 year old and 10 year old, plus a 9 year old finished in toasted barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Blood Oath is a sourced whiskey from Luxco, which recently opened Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky. Master distiller John Rempe has stated that eventually, all of Luxco’s whiskeys will be made at Lux Row—but with so much age on Blood Oath, it will be many years before the whiskey is distilled entirely in-house.

BenRiach Classic Cask Strength (Batch 2)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 60.6% ABV
Price: $95
Release: February 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This non-age statement BenRiach is a combination of whiskies finished in bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, and oloroso sherry casks and bottled at cask strength.

Whisky Advocate says:

Whisky Advocate reviewed BenRiach’s first cask strength release in 2016, scoring it 89 points. Here’s hoping this new release compares favorably!

BenRiach Classic 21 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $250
Release: February 2018 in the U.S.
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

A 21 year old single malt from BenRiach, this whisky aged in a combination of bourbon, virgin oak, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and red wine casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

First released in the UK in December, this whisky is now available in the U.S.

BenRiach Temporis 21 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $265
Release: April 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Aged in a mixture of bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, and Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks, this new BenRiach is also peated. Temporis is the Latin word for time, and the whisky is meant to imitate the style of single malt made in Speyside in the 19th century.

Whisky Advocate says:

Although Speyside is often associated with unpeated single malt, BenRiach has offered peated expressions for a long time. The name and concept of this particular whisky underscores the fact that for most of the history of scotch (Speyside or not), malt whisky was peated, as peat was the primary fuel source for drying barley.

BenRiach Single Casks

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 10 and 12 years old
Proof: 53.6% and 59.4% ABV
Price: $95 and $110
Release: February 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

BenRiach is releasing two single cask whiskies for the U.S. market, both bottled at cask strength. Cask #7367 is a 10 year old unpeated single malt matured in virgin oak and bottled at 52.6% ABV. It costs $95. Cask #2683 is a 12 year old peated single malt initially aged in a second-fill bourbon cask, then finished in a port pipe. It’s bottled at 59.4% ABV and costs $110.

Whisky Advocate says:

Fans of BenRiach’s 10 year old single malt may want to try the new 10 year old single cask as a comparison whisky. With a higher proof and different maturation scheme (virgin oak rather than ex-bourbon and ex-sherry), it will show off a whole new side of the whisky.

GlenDronach Single Casks

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 24 and 27 years old
Proof: 51.8% and 52.9% ABV
Price: $675 and $1,100
Release: February 2018
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

BenRiach’s sister distillery, GlenDronach, is also releasing two U.S. market-only cask strength single cask whiskies. Cask #415 was aged for 24 years in a sherry cask, bottled at 51.8% ABV, and will sell for $675. Cask #2257 was aged for 27 years in a sherry cask, bottled at 52.9% ABV, and will cost $1,100.

Whisky Advocate says:

GlenDronach’s latest batch of Grandeur 24 year old was just announced a few weeks ago. It comes in at a lower strength than this 24 year old single cask, but costs more—$750 versus $675—making this a better deal if you’re looking at just ABV and price. At ages and prices like these, none of these whiskies are everyday drams, but GlenDronach’s quality is well known and reflected in its scores, so if you’re looking for a special sherried single malt, these might be right up your alley.

Belle Meade Mourvèdre Cask Finish Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 58.5% ABV
Price: $150
Release: March 2018
Availability: 288 bottles at the distillery only

Need to know:

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is rolling out a new series for its sourced line of Belle Meade bourbon. The first release in the Craftsman Cask Collection—which will finish aged bourbons in special cask types and bottle them at cask strength— is a 10 year old bourbon finished for 148 days in a Mourvèdre wine barrel from Withers Winery in California.

Whisky Advocate says:

While waiting patiently for (most of) their own whiskey to age, the folks at Nelson’s Green Brier have kept busy finishing and bottling sourced whiskey from MGP Distillery in Indiana. The core Belle Meade brand finishes bourbon in cognac, sherry, and Madeira casks, but the new Craftsman Cask Collection promises bourbons that are aged at least 10 years and finished in “unique casks, each with its own story to tell.” This first release is available only at the distillery with a limit of one bottle per person.

Fusion Whisky The Brisbane

Style: Blended malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands and Speyside) and Australia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 57.5% ABV
Price: £150
Release: March 2018
Availability: 932 bottles

Need to know:

The latest from Fusion Whisky, which blends single malt scotch with single malts from around the world, The Brisbane is a combination of two ex-sherry hogsheads from Glen Garioch (aged 19 years), part of a 29 year old ex-sherry butt from Glen Grant, and three 5 year old apera casks from Australia’s Starward Distillery. It’s named in honor of Thomas Brisbane, a Scot who served as governor of New South Wales in the 19th century and was also a scientist.

Whisky Advocate says:

Fusion Whisky’s offerings, including The Winter Queen which just came out a month ago, are unfortunately not available in the U.S. The company’s innovation is laudable, however. Also of note: This release uses blockchain technology to ensure traceability and authenticity no matter where it goes.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Bottle

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45.2% ABV
Price: $44
Release: March 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Each year, Woodford Reserve releases a special package of its core bourbon in honor of the Kentucky Derby. This year’s label was designed by Keith Anderson, an employee of Brown-Forman who has worked at its private dining room, Bourbon Street Café, for the past 11 years. It features the thoroughbreds dramatically breaking through the starting gate.

Whisky Advocate says:

Okay, so this isn’t a new whiskey, but at 19 years and counting, Woodford’s special Derby bottling has lots of fans and collectors. If you already like Woodford and are planning to toast to the most exciting two minutes in sports, it’s worth picking up. (And if you need ideas for hosting your own Derby Day party, we’ve got you covered.)

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