Canadian Club 41, Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 25 & More New Whisky

The whisky world has been shaken by the sad news of the death of Dave Pickerell, one of the pre-eminent distillers of American whiskey who helped shape dozens of brands over the course of his career. He will be sorely missed, yet his influence will continue to be felt as long as the whiskeys he helped create are enjoyed by drinkers.

We certainly will continue to raise our glasses to him.

Speaking of which—there are many new whiskies to fill your glass with this week. Canadian Club is releasing its oldest whisky to date at 41 years old. The blended whisky is $300 and available in limited amounts.

The sixth and final release of Rhetoric, part of the Orphan Barrel series, is coming out. Rhetoric 25 year old caps off a run that started at age 20. It is for sale in limited quantities for $140.

Two new cask-finished expressions of The Famous Grouse are rolling out in the U.S. Previously available abroad, The Famous Grouse Ruby Cask is finished in port casks, while The Famous Grouse Bourbon Cask is, you guessed it, finished in first-fill bourbon barrels. Each of the blended scotches costs $35.

Seattle’s Westland Distillery is launching Reverie, a series of limited-edition experimental whiskies. The first release, Reverie fig. 1, combines a variety of different malts and barrel-aging regimens. It costs $110 and is for sale only at the distillery.

Fukano Distillery has four new rice whiskies coming out: Vault Reserve #1 and #2, Jikan, and 6000. Each whisky is a unique blend of different vintages and barrel maturations, available in limited amounts for $90 apiece.

Two new Irish whiskeys are hitting shelves. Egan’s Irish Whiskey has launched Fortitude, a single malt matured only in Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks. It is available in limited amounts for now for $50.

Meanwhile, West Cork Distillers Export Stout Cask Finish is a blended whiskey finished in stout barrels from Massachusetts’ Castle Island Brewing Co. There are 3,900 bottles available, priced at $30.

Finally, Finger Lakes Distilling has unveiled its first bonded whiskey. McKenzie Bottled in Bond bourbon uses a wheated mashbill. It has a recommended price of $43 and will be consistently available.

Read on for full details.

Canadian Club Chronicles 41 year old

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Canada
Age: 41 years old
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $300
Release: November 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The oldest expression ever released in the Canadian Club line, this whisky was distilled and barreled in 1977. It includes small amounts of cognac, sherry, and rye.

Whisky Advocate says:

How can a whisky included added cognac, sherry, or other whisky? In Canada, the practice is perfectly legal and an integral part of the country’s whisky tradition—up to 9.09% of a whisky’s final blend can be made up of other aged spirits or wine. Our Instant Expert guide to Canadian whisky explains.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 25 year old

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 45.5% ABV
Price: $140
Release: November 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The sixth and final release for Rhetoric straight bourbon, part of the Orphan Barrel line, this whiskey has bumped up slightly in price from its 24 year old iteration, which was rolled out in early 2018.

Whisky Advocate says:

It’s not common for a single whiskey to be re-released at successively older ages for several years running, although craft distilleries might engage in this practice as they steadily roll out older product. Has anyone out there bought a bottle of every Rhetoric release? Tasting them all side by side should be an interesting exercise in determining whether an extra year (or two, or five) of maturation at such an advanced age makes a big difference in enjoyment.

Famous Grouse Ruby Cask

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $35
Release: November 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Part of the Famous Grouse’s new Cask Series, this blend spent time in port-seasoned casks to impart rich, fruity flavors.

Famous Grouse Bourbon Cask

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $35
Release: November 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Also part of the brand’s Cask Series, this Famous Grouse blend showcases the caramel and vanilla flavors that come from time in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

These whiskies were released overseas earlier this year, and are finally making their way to U.S. stores. Whisky Advocate’s Fall 2018 Buying Guide scored Ruby Cask 87 points and Bourbon Cask 89 points.

Westland Reverie Fig. 1

Style: Single malt
Origin: Washington
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $110
Release: November 2018
Availability: 900 bottles for sale at the distillery only

Need to know:

The first in a new annual series for Westland, Reverie fig. 1 is distilled from five malt, Washington malt, and peated malt, and aged in two types of new charred oak barrel—Cooper’s Select and Cooper’s Reserve from Independent Stave Co.—as well as ex-bourbon, moscatel, refill Cooper’s Select, and refill moscatel casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Westland says that each year’s release of Reverie will be completely different, giving the distillery the freedom to create from its vast array of cask types, malt bills, yeast strains, and other variables. For now, the Reverie series is available at the distillery only.

Fukano Vault Reserve #1

Style: Rice whisky
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40.5% ABV
Price: $90
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: 5,443 bottles

Need to know:

Made from rice, this whisky includes multiple distillates:

  • Whisky from the 1990s that was moved from cask to a holding tank in 2002, then refilled into new casks for another nine years until it went into a second holding tank in 2011
  • Whisky from the early 2000s that was moved to a tank in 2008
  • Whisky distilled in 2011 and 2013 that was filled into sherry casks

Fukano Vault Reserve #2

Style: Rice whisky
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40.4% ABV
Price: $90
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: 3,850 bottles

Need to know:

Around 45% of this whisky is Fukano Vault Reserve #1. In addition, it includes distillates from 2002 (36%), 2006 (5%), 2009 (8%), and 2011 (6%) that were filled into European oak casks.

Fukano Jikan

Style: Rice whisky
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40.4% ABV
Price: $90
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: 1,200 bottles

Need to know:

Also distilled from rice, this whisky honors its roots in Kumamoto Prefecture. The label, created by artist Junichi Oda, depicts Hitoyoshi City where Fukano Distillery is located. “Jikan” means “time.”

Fukano 6000

Style: Rice whisky
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40.4% ABV
Price: $90
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: 1,200 bottles

Need to know:

The label was created by artist Linh Do—known for her whisky-inspired clothing and original artwork. The upside-down astronaut represents how Fukano, as a rice whisky, is turning a traditional definition of whisky on its head.

Whisky Advocate says:

These limited-edition blends of whisky distilled from rice (yes, it’s a thing) are meant to pull together a range of vintages “to achieve a style of whisky that is both elegant and engaging,” according to Chris Uhde, the American importer who works with Fukano to develop the different blends. “After Fukano Whisky 2017 edition earned [a spot in the 2017] ‘Top 20 Whiskies of the Year’ in Whisky Advocate Magazine, Fukano Distillery opened up more of their stocks for the whisky project and is giving us freedom to be more adventurous in how we are putting the stocks together. We are staying true to keeping everything coming out of the distillery unique and and limited.”

Egan's Fortitude

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $50
Release: November 2018
Availability: Limited edition for now

Need to know:

This Irish single malt was triple-distilled and aged solely in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Fortitude is being released as an initial limited run of 5,000 bottles or less, but if it meets with success, Egan’s is prepared to make the whiskey more permanently available.

West Cork Export Stout Cask Finished Blended Irish Whiskey

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $30
Release: October 2018
Availability: 3,900 bottles in the Northeast U.S.

Need to know:

A blend of 75% grain and 25% malt that was aged initially in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, this whiskey underwent a 6-8 month finishing period in casks that formerly held Castle Island Brewing Co.’s export stout. Before they held the beer, however, the casks were used to age West Cork’s whiskey—which means this blend brings the whole thing full circle.

Whisky Advocate says:

Beer barrel-finished whiskies have established themselves as a sub-niche of cask finishing—from Jameson Caskmates to Virginia Distillery Co. Brewers’ Batch, and a whole lot of others. The best way to enjoy these whiskies, in my opinion, is paired with their beer partners in a boilermaker.

McKenzie Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: New York
Age: 4 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $43
Release: November 2018
Availability: AZ, CA, NJ, NY, and NV

Need to know:

The first bottled-in-bond whiskey from Finger Lakes Distilling in upstate New York, the secondary grain in this bourbon’s mashbill is wheat rather than rye.

Whisky Advocate says:

Around here, we love bonded whiskey and we love wheaters—so we can’t wait to try this bottled-in-bond wheated bourbon from Finger Lakes, one of New York’s pre-eminent craft distillers.

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