Archive for the ‘Whisky Advocate Blog’ Category

New Johnnie Walker, Col. E.H. Taylor, and WhistlePig

Friday, March 24th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

It’s a mixed bag of new whiskies this week: Johnnie Walker launches the first in its new Blenders’ Batch series; Buffalo Trace has released its latest Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. bourbon; WhistlePig is debuting its first whiskey made with rye distilled and matured on its Vermont farm; Hochstadter’s has a super-aged rye whisky from Alberta Distillers; and Woodford Reserve‘s special Derby bottle is rolling out.

Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Triple Grain American Oak (2)Johnnie Walker Triple Grain American Oak

Style: Blended scotch
Proof: 41.3% ABV
Price: $30
Release: March 2017
Availability: Nationwide while supplies last

Need to know: In the course of his work, Johnnie Walker master blender Dr. Jim Beveridge conducts hundreds of experiments to develop new flavor profiles for the brand. This is the first release in the new Blenders’ Batch series, which will feature some of Beveridge’s experimental blends. Per the name, this one includes three types of grain whisky: wheat, barley, and corn.

Whisky Advocate says: Johnnie Walker has revealed the two component malt whiskies—Cardhu and Mortlach—as well as one of the three grain whiskies—Port Dundas—used in this blend, noting that all have been aged for at least 10 years in American oak. This kind of transparency is a welcome development—let’s hope it continues with future releases.

EHT Four GrainColonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Four Grain Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $70
Release: April 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know: Aged for 12 years and bottled in bond, this bourbon was made with corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley. It’s the ninth release in Buffalo Trace’s Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. line since the launch of the collection in 2011.

Whisky Advocate says: Colonel E.H. Taylor whiskeys consistently score in the high 80s and 90s in our Buying Guide, and there’s no reason to expect this whisky won’t be up to par. Like the other releases, expect this one to sell out quickly.

FarmStock 3-6-171264 copyWhistlePig FarmStock

Style: Blended rye whiskey
Origin: Vermont, Indiana, and Alberta, Can.
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $90
Release: March 2017
Availability: Limited—only 100 barrels were blended for this release

Need to know: WhistlePig has long bottled sourced whiskey, but it’s been distilling on its Vermont farm since October 2015. This release contains 20% house-made whiskey, 49% whisky from Alberta Distillers finished in Vermont oak (aged 5 years), and 31% whiskey from MGP (aged 12 years). The Vermont-made component is around 17 months old for this initial batch, but will increase in age for future batches, maxing out at 2 years old.

Whisky Advocate says: Master distiller Dave Pickerell created the WhistlePig-made whiskey used in this blend. It’s the first of future “triple-terroir” releases from the brand, but there’s no word yet on when we can expect a bottle of 100% WhistlePig-distilled whiskey.

HFR16Hochstadter’s Family Reserve 16 year old Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Alberta, Can.
Proof: 61.9% ABV
Price: $200
Release: March 2017
Availability: 7,500 bottles

Need to know: This is a 100% rye whisky from Alberta Distillers that’s aged in new charred American oak and bottled in Philadelphia, unfiltered and undiluted.

Whisky Advocate says: Joining Slow & Low Rock & Rye and a vatted straight rye, this is the first release from Hochstadter’s with so much age on it. Older rye from Alberta Distillers (like Lock Stock and Barrel) can be a beautiful thing—here’s hoping this one continues the trend.

WR Derby Bottle 2017 (1) copyWoodford Reserve 2017 Kentucky Derby Bottle

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Proof: 45.2% ABV
Price: $44 (liter)
Release: March 2017
Availability: Nationwide

Need to know: Woodford is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, and this commemorative bottle—like those of years past—celebrates the famous race with custom artwork. This year’s label was created by Chicago artist Thomas Allen Pauly, the official artist of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. (Yes, the horse has his own official artist!)

Whisky Advocate says: If you’re a fan of Woodford and/or horse racing, this pretty bottle has your name all over it. It’s a liter, rather than the standard 750-ml. bottle, meaning you can make 33% more Mint Juleps on Derby Day.

New Irish Whiskeys to Kick Off St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

In the last few years, Irish whiskeys have begun crowding bourbon and scotch on the shelf. In fact, Ireland’s distilling scene is undergoing an exciting renaissance—as detailed in our Winter 2016 issue. So it’s no surprise to see new brands hitting the U.S., especially around St. Paddy’s Day. Check out these four Irish whiskeys rolling out now—two new expressions from Bushmills and Tyrconnell, a unique Irish-American hybrid whiskey from Connacht, and Jameson’s limited-edition St. Patrick’s Day bottle.

Bushmills Red Bush bar shot Bushmills Red Bush

Style: Blended Irish whiskey
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $23
Release: March 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: Joining Bushmills Original and Black Bush, as well as a couple of aged single malts, this is the first new expression in the Bushmills family in quite awhile. It’s matured exclusively in first-fill bourbon barrels and is recommended as a shot or with mixers like ginger ale or soda.

Whisky Advocate says: In a statement, master distiller Colum Egan noted that this whiskey is targeted at millennial drinkers, and the company is clearly going after the American market with its focus on bourbon barrels. But don’t expect it to taste like bourbon: This is a classic Bushmills blend, with a somewhat sweeter taste profile.

Brothershipfront_2375Brothership Irish-American Whiskey

Style: Blended whiskey
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $40-$50
Release: March 2017
Availability: Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know: A real category bender, this is a blend of 52% 10 year old pot still Irish whiskey and 48% 10 year old American whiskey, both from undisclosed sources and blended by Connacht Whiskey Company. “Brothership” refers to the partnership of one Irishman and three Americans, who together founded Connacht.

Whisky Advocate says: Connacht has a distillery in County Mayo where it’s producing pot still whiskey, as well as gin, vodka, and poitín. The company also sells a blended Irish whiskey and Spade&Bushel single malt Irish whiskey, which are both sourced. Connacht’s sister distillery is New Liberty in Philadelphia, and New Liberty’s master distiller Robert Cassell blended and Brothership there. Both facilities are new—Connacht opened in October 2015 and New Liberty in 2014—but as their stocks mature, we may see more collaborations like this one.

Tyrconnell16YO_btltube_wht copyTyrconnell 16 year old

Style: Single malt Irish whiskey
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $100
Release: March 2017
Availability: 18,000 bottles for the world, hitting select U.S. markets first

Need to know: This is the oldest Tyrconnell to date and joins the regular non-age statement single malt and three 10 year old cask finishes.

Whisky Advocate says: Tyrconnell has released some older single cask whiskeys in the past, but this is the first time that a 16 year old has been available. It’s only around for a limited time.

Jameson2Jameson Saint Patrick’s Day Bottle

Style: Blended Irish whiskey
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $25
Release: March 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: It’s the same old Jameson, but in a special-edition bottle whose label was created by Dublin artist Steve McCarthy. The design plays on the Irish expression “chancing your arm,” which means taking a risk or stepping outside your comfort zone.

Whisky Advocate says: As the most popular Irish whiskey in the country, Jameson isn’t all that risky a choice. But if you were going to buy it anyway, you might as well get this bottle, which looks pretty rad. In other Jameson news, the brand has reopened its Dublin visitor center after an $11 million euro renovation. The site—which is not a distillery—offers three tours, some of which include cocktail master classes and cask sampling.

Bulleit Distillery Is Finally Open

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Bulleit distillery in Shelbyville, KY is now open. (Photo by

Bulleit distillery in Shelbyville, KY is now open.
(Photo by

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Thirty years after Tom Bulleit started the brand, Bulleit whiskey finally has a home of its own. Bulleit—which has sourced from numerous distilleries to supply its bourbon and rye labels over the years, including Four Roses and MGP—opened its distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky yesterday with an official ribbon cutting ceremony attended by executives from parent company Diageo, Kentucky state senator Paul Hornback and other local politicians, Kentucky Distillers’ Association president Eric Gregory, and of course, Tom himself.

Construction on the $115 million distillery began in 2014, and it started production in February. It has a current annual capacity of 1.8 million proof gallons, though the ability to expand has been built in to the facility’s modular design. It’s sited on 300 acres with four warehouses, each with a 55,000-barrel capacity. The distillery has an industrial solar array which will power all on-site mobile equipment.

Bulleit distillery isn’t currently open to the public, although the company has stated its hope to “someday open a Visitor Experience and we are exploring the possibilities of that endeavor with the state.” Meanwhile, people can visit the existing Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience, which is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and located at the former Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville.

Irish Whiskey Cocktails to Up Your Saint Patrick’s Day Drinking

Monday, March 13th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Any day is a good day to drink some Irish whiskey, but Saint Patrick’s Day calls for upping the ante. If you’ve outgrown green beer and tastelessly named shots, why not try your hand at an Irish whiskey cocktail? Check out these six recipes from top bartenders which incorporate a number of Irish whiskey styles, from a traditional blend to single malts.

THETIPPERARY copyThe Tipperary

Versions of this cocktail have appeared over the last 100 years with varying proportions and ingredients. This one was created by Tullamore D.E.W. brand ambassador Tim Herlihy.

2 oz. Tullamore D.E.W.
1 oz. sweet vermouth
½ oz. Green Chartreuse
Garnish: orange peel

Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass and stir. Pour into a coupe glass. Express the orange peel over the top to release the oils, then float the peel in the drink.

Photo by Eric Luciano

Photo by Eric Luciano

St. Kevin Sling

Go long with a fruity, fizzy Irish whiskey cocktail, created by Ezra Star from Drink Fort Point in Boston.

1½ oz. Glendalough Double Barrel
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
¼ oz. grenadine
4 dashes orange bitters
Soda Water
Garnish: long lemon twist

Add whiskey, juice, curaçao, grenadine and bitters to a shaker with ice and shake up a storm. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, gently nestle in the lemon twist so it swirls the whole way around the inside, and top up the glass with soda water.

 India to Ireland

Photo by Zandy Mangold

Photo by Zandy Mangold

Irish whiskey is a versatile ingredient, as demonstrated by this cocktail from Hemant Pathak of New York City’s Junoon, which includes pomegranate and Darjeeling tea.

1½ oz. Teeling Small Batch
¼ oz. oz. PAMA pomegranate liqueur
¼ oz. oz Punt e Mes vermouth
¾ oz. Darjeeling tea
1 bar spoon honey water (equal parts honey and water)
Garnish: Star anise

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise. 

Irish SlangIrish Slang copy

Combine single grain whiskey and Irish cream into one sweet, tall drink, first created by Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress in New York City.

1½ oz. Teeling Single Grain
1½ oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream liqueur
¾ oz. Borghetti espresso liqueur
½ oz. Grand Marnier
Garnish: orange slice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

The King is Dead 2 copyThe King is Dead

Despite the name, it’s not treasonous to use single malt in a cocktail. Brock Schulte of The Rieger in Kansas City shows how to do it right.

1½ oz. Knappogue Castle 12 year old
¾ oz. Pimm’s No.1 liqueur
½ oz. oz Earl Grey tea syrup (see below)
1 bar spoon Green Chartreuse
½ eyedropper Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters
Garnish: Edible flower

Stir all ingredients with ice to dilute, strain, and serve neat in a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with an edible flower.

To make Earl Grey tea Syrup: Double steep loose earl grey tea and combine with an equal amount of castor sugar.

Photo by Zandy Mangold

Photo by Zandy Mangold

Spring Dew

Rich fruit flavors mingle with traditional Irish whiskey for a drink that’s perfectly seasonal for St. Paddy’s Day. This cocktail was created by Shawn Chen of RedFarm and Decoy in New York City.

Absinthe (to rinse)
2 oz. Kilbeggan Irish whiskey
¾ oz. Rainwater Madeira
¼ oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. PAMA pomegranate liqueur
¼ oz. Gran Classico Bitter
2 dashes Mexican Mole bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist

Rinse a rocks glass with a little bit of absinthe. Pour the remaining ingredients into a mixing glass and add ice. Stir vigorously and strain into the rocks glass over a 2-inch ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Ardbeg Kelpie, Tamdhu Batch Strength, and American Born Bourbon

Friday, March 10th, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

Ardbeg has announced details of its latest Ardbeg Committee release, while Tamdhu is launching the second round of its Batch Strength edition, and a new bourbon rolls out from moonshine brand American Born.

AB_Bourbon copyAmerican Born Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Proof: 41.5% ABV
Price: $25
Release: March 2017
Availability: Tennessee, Texas, and California to start, and later more states

Need to know: This is a new bourbon from American Born, and comes from an undisclosed source in Indiana. The company is also releasing two flavored whiskeys (35% ABV) at the same time, Peach and Apple. 

Whisky Advocate says: American Born got started as flavored moonshine company but appears to be shifting to a new lineup that includes both flavored and aged whiskeys. Though the source is undisclosed, we’re guessing it’s everyone’s favorite Indiana distillery, MGP.

Tamdhu-BatchTamdhu Batch Strength #002

Style: Single malt scotch
Proof: 58.5% ABV
Price: $90-$95
Release: March 2017
Availability: 24,000 bottles worldwide

Need to know: This is the second release of Tamdhu’s high-proof, non-age statement expression. It’s non-chill filtered and, because it’s a batched product, will vary slightly from #001.

Whisky Advocate says: Though $95 might seem steep for a non-age statement whisky, this one scored a 92 in our Spring 2017 Buying Guide—well worth trying, in our opinion. 

Ardbeg KelpieBottle Front Main

Style: Single malt scotch
Proof: 51.7% ABV
Price: $119
Release: June 3, 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know: As always, Ardbeg is releasing a special expression for its Ardbeg Committee members, launching on Ardbeg Day during the Islay Festival of Malt and Music. If you can’t make it to the festival, try calling your trusted local retailer to see if they’re getting an allocation.

Whisky Advocate says: Kelpie was matured in virgin casks made of oak grown and seasoned on the Adyghe (or Adygea) Republic’s Taman Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. “Kelpie” is a type of water demon—the name is meant to call to mind the murky depths of the sea off Islay—so expect lots of briny seaweed notes.

Top Ten Whiskies From the Spring 2017 Buying Guide

Monday, March 6th, 2017

When exploring the Buying Guide in our Spring 2017 issue, don’t miss the top ten highest-scoring whiskies.

10. Spice Tree Extravaganza, 93 points, $140

9. Sheep Dip Islay Blended Malt, 93 points, $60

8. Ohishi Single Sherry Cask (cask 1257), 93 points, $75

7. Masterson’s 10 year old Rye (batch PSF3), 93 points, $89

6. Kavalan Solist Moscatel Cask, 93 points, $599

5. Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash (bottle 108), 94 points, $5,000

4. Kavalan Solist Amontillado Cask, 94 points, $599

3. Black Bull 40 year old, 7th Release, 94 points, $1,400

2. Masterson’s 10 year old Rye (batch PSA3), 95 points, $89

1. Chivas Regal Ultis—96 points, $160


Buying Guide Top Ten Spring 2017: Chivas Regal Ultis

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Chivas Regal Ultis copyThe Spring 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine hits newsstands in early March. We’re counting down the top ten highest-rated new releases as reviewed in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. For our Editor’s Choice, Value Pick and more great whiskies, subscribe now!

#1—Chivas Regal Ultis, 40%, $160

Captivating, enticing, and wonderfully charming, this first blended malt from Chivas Regal contains selections of five Speyside malts: Strathisla, Longmorn, Tormore, Allt-a-Bhainne, and Braeval. Red apple, cherry, raspberry fudge, peach and mango fruit salad, dusting of cinnamon, and dry heather sprigs. In essence, it’s rich and satisfying, with dark vanilla, apricot, Bourneville-covered Brazil nuts, and tangerine, smoothed over by caramel and wood spices, maltiness, and gingersnap biscuits. Quite heavenly. —Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 96

New Rye and a 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

By Susannah Skiver Barton

This week, there’s a 10 year old Irish whiskey from The Dubliner, and Limestone Branch is launching a new rye brand.

IMG_1369(1)Minor Case Rye

Style: Straight rye whiskey
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $50
Release: March 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know: A new brand from Limestone Branch, this 2 year old rye whiskey is named after Minor Case Beam, the great-grandfather of Limestone Branch cofounders Steve and Paul Beam. It’s finished in a sherry barrel.

Whisky Advocate says: Limestone Branch opened their distillery in 2011, but this rye whiskey isn’t made there. The label says it’s distilled in Indiana, so it’s safe to assume it’s made at MGP.

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey 10 Year_with gift tubeThe Dubliner 10 year old Single Malt

Style: Single malt Irish whiskey
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $50
Release: March 2017
Availability: More than 20 U.S. states

Need to know: The Dubliner brand is launching its first age-statement whiskey, which is also its first single malt.

Whisky Advocate says: The Dubliner Irish Whiskey is reviewed in our Spring 2017 Buying Guide with a score of 90. At $20, it gives great bang for your buck, and we can only hope the 10 year old single malt does the same.

Buying Guide Top Ten Spring 2017: Masterson’s 10 year old Rye (batch PSA3)

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

MastersonsPSA3_American_Bottleshot_MUThe Spring 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine hits newsstands in early March. We’re counting down the top ten highest-rated new releases as reviewed in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. For our Editor’s Choice, Value Pick and more great whiskies, subscribe now!

#2—Masterson’s 10 year old Rye (batch PSA3), 45% ABV, $89

This 100% rye-grain whisky is distilled in Alberta, then shipped to Sonoma, California for final touches. Finished in new American oak, batch PSA3 is one of the tastiest U.S. bottlings of Canadian rye ever. Soft caramels cushion ethereal honeysuckle, blackened firewood, and lusty rye spices on a framework of pulling oak tannins. Hugely complex, with new rewards in every sip.—Davin de Kergommeaux

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 95

Buying Guide Top Ten Spring 2017: Black Bull 40 year old

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

BLACKBULL 40cThe Spring 2017 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine hits newsstands in early March. We’re counting down the top ten highest-rated new releases as reviewed in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide. For our Editor’s Choice, Value Pick and more great whiskies, subscribe now!

#3—Black Bull 40 year old 7th release, 47.6% ABV, $1,400

Jaw-dropping: Aberlour 1973, Bunnahabhain 1968 and 1969, Bowmore 1968, Caperdonich 1972, Glen Grant 1974, Glenfarclas 1966, Glenlivet 1968 and 1970, Highland Park 1967 and 1970, and Macallan 1969. It includes a 14% grain content from Caledonian 1974, Carsebridge 1970, Girvan 1974, Invergordon 1972, Lochside 1966, North of Scotland 1974, and Port Dundas 1973. An elegant, refined mélange of peach, pear, soft oak, and rose cream florals, with dark fruit, chocolate, and fine pepper. Outstanding. —Jonny McCormick

Advanced Whisky Advocate Rating: 94