New Glenmorangie, Angel’s Envy Sherry Finish & More New Whisky

We made it! January is over, and as the calendar turns to its shortest month, there are new whiskies to anticipate.

Glenmorangie has unveiled the tenth release in its Private Edition series. Allta (“wild”) is a whisky whose barley was fermented from wild yeast found in the fields near the distillery—a first for Glenmorangie. Cultivating and using wild yeast is an unusual step for modern scotch distillers generally, although custom yeasts are very common in American whiskey. Glenmorangie Allta is priced at $99 and available in limited amounts.

Angel’s Envy has announced a new bourbon finished in oloroso sherry casks. There are just 3,600 bottles of the bourbon, priced at $200 each, and they’re going on sale first to members of the distillery’s 500 Main group. After that, the remaining bottles will be for sale at the distillery and select Kentucky retailers.

Buffalo Trace is releasing the next two whiskeys in its Experimental Collection, a pair of bourbons aged in barrels whose wood was seasoned for an extra-long period of time: 36 months and 48 months. The Seasoned Stave bourbons will be sold in 375-ml. bottles in limited amounts, with a recommended price of $46 apiece.

Oregon’s Rogue Brewery and Distillery has debuted a new single malt whiskey with a complex barrel maturation program, including a finish in barrels that held the producer’s Rolling Thunder imperial stout. Priced at $80, the whiskey is a limited-edition release with 3,300 bottles available.

There’s a new single-cask Kilchoman hitting shelves, and it’s been aged for a full decade in a sherry butt. Kilchoman ImpEx Cask Evolution Sherry Butt Matured 10 year old is cask strength at 55.6% ABV and priced at $180. There are 559 bottles available, for sale only in the U.S.

Copperworks Distilling of Seattle is releasing two single-cask single malts made from locally grown Alba barley. Two casks of Single Variety single malt are being offered: one at the distillery only, and the other in Seattle-area stores. The whiskies are priced around $76, and about 260 bottles from each cask are available.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery has brought back Belle Meade Honey Cask, a bourbon finished in barrels that previously held honey. The cask-strength whiskey is for sale at the Nashville distillery only, priced at $125; fewer than 250 bottles are available.

Finally, Balcones is debuting a single malt finished in its own rum casks. The whiskey is for sale at the distillery only for $80.

Read on for full details.

Glenmorangie Allta

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 51.2% ABV
Price: $99
Release: February 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The tenth release in Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series, Allta (Scots Gaelic for “wild”) is the first whisky from the distillery to have been made with wild yeast. Several years ago, Glenmorangie director of distilling, whisky creation, and whisky stocks Bill Lumsden collected Cadboll barley growing near the distillery and analyzed it for yeast strains; in the process, he discovered Saccharomyces diaemath, a hitherto-unidentified yeast. The strain was cultivated, and Lumsden used it to ferment some malt, which was distilled and filled into ex-bourbon casks—including some second-fill casks, to better showcase the flavors that come from the yeast.

Whisky Advocate says:

Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series showcases innovation, and releases have focused on unique cask maturation programs—like Bacalta, finished in Malmsey madeira casks—or Spìos, matured in Kentucky rye barrels. This is the first Glenmorangie to turn its attention to yeast. In fact, few Scottish distillers spend much time thinking about different yeast strains, unlike their counterparts in the U.S., especially Kentucky, where unique yeast is often touted as a key part of the flavor-creation process for whiskey. (Hear from longtime Four Roses employee Al Young about just how important yeast is for the distillery’s different bourbons.)

Angel's Envy Oloroso Sherry Cask-Finished Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $200
Release: February 2019
Availability: 3,600 bottles at the distillery and select Kentucky retailers

Need to know:

With its bourbon finished in port casks and its rye in rum casks, it was only a matter of time before Angel’s Envy created a whiskey finished in sherry casks. A combination of bourbons aged 4-9 years and then finished 2-3 years in oloroso sherry casks, this limited-edition release will go on sale first to members of 500 Main, a free club for Angel’s Envy fans. It will also be for sale at the distillery and select Kentucky stores.

Whisky Advocate says:

Angel’s Envy keeps its offerings pretty tight: the port-finished bourbon (93 points) and rum-finished rye (90 points), plus a yearly cask-strength release. So it’s very exciting to see a new bourbon, even if it’s available in limited amounts. Look for Whisky Advocate’s review in an upcoming issue!

Buffalo Trace Seasoned Stave Bourbons

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $46 (375-ml.)
Release: February 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The latest releases in Buffalo Trace’s Experimental Collection are two bourbons aged in barrels whose wood had been seasoned for much longer than normal. While the wood used for the distillery’s barrels usually gets a 6-month seasoning—aka air-drying time—these barrels used wood seasoned for 36 months and 48 months. The barrels were filled with Buffalo Trace’s #1 mashbill (which is corn-forward with a small amount of rye, plus malted barley) and aged for nine years. According to the distillery, while the 36-month-seasoned and 48-month-seasoned bourbons show minor differences between them, both whiskeys taste significantly different from Buffalo Trace’s flagship bourbon, which uses the same mashbill.

Whisky Advocate says:

Barrels get a lot of attention for their influence on whisky flavor, but the length of drying time for the wood used to make the barrel is rarely discussed. This natural drying out, called seasoning, is important though; Chuck Cowdery provides a good explanation of the process in this article.

Rogue Rolling Thunder Stouted Whiskey

Style: Single malt
Origin: Oregon
Age: Not stated
Proof: 48.5% ABV
Price: $80
Release: February 2019
Availability: 3,300 bottles

Need to know:

Made at Rogue Brewery and Distillery from barley grown on the company’s farm, this whiskey has a complex maturation process. First, it ages for one year in new charred Garryana oak barrels made by Rogue’s cooper. The barrels are then emptied and used to age Rogue’s Rolling Thunder imperial stout, while the whiskey is transferred to additional new charred oak barrels for nine months. Then the whiskey is returned to the beer-soaked Garryana barrels for an additional two years of aging.

Whisky Advocate says:

Because Garryana oak is hard to obtain—it’s illegal to cut down, so anyone who wants to use it for a barrel has to harvest trees that have fallen naturally—it’s rare to see it used for aging whiskey. The Pacific Northwest oak has been used most prominently by Westland Distillery, which releases a limited-edition Garryana expression annually. Curious about the flavors produced by a Garryana barrel? Check out our guide to different oak types.

Kilchoman ImpEx Cask Evolution Sherry Butt Matured 10 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 55.6% ABV
Price: $180
Release: Winter 2019
Availability: 559 bottles for the U.S. only

Need to know:

This single-cask Kilchoman was specially selected by distillery founder Anthony Wills for importer ImpEx beverages. It matured for a full decade in a sherry butt, which, thanks to its large size, yielded 559 bottles.

Whisky Advocate says:

Kilchoman opened in 2005 and has been releasing progressively older whiskies since its first bottling in 2009. This is just a single cask—not a permanently available whisky—but with a decade in the barrel, it’s the oldest Kilchoman to hit the U.S. so far. There’s no doubt in my mind it will be a great whisky, as Kilchoman is consistently impressive. The 2018 Edition of Loch Gorm was number 15 on our Top 20.

Copperworks Single Variety Malt Whiskey (Releases 019 and 020)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Washington
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: Around $76
Release: February 2019
Availability: 263 bottles of 019, for sale at the distillery and online; 262 bottles of 020, for sale in the Seattle area

Need to know:

In 2016, Seattle’s Copperworks Distilling Co. began a program to support local growers and highlight the flavors of Pacific Northwest grain. These two single cask whiskies are the first releases from that effort, showcasing Alba barley from Knutzen Farms in the Skagit Valley. The barley was harvested in 2015 and double-distilled, and the whiskey aged for 34 months in new charred oak barrels. Release 019 is for sale only at the distillery and online, while Release 020 is available at retail in the Seattle area.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of single malt distilling, with many producers aiming to capture local flavors in the bottle through their choice of grain or oak (see Rogue’s Garryana-aged whisky above). Copperworks is a leader in this area, but it’s not the only Seattle distillery you should be paying attention to.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Finish (2019 release)

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: 11 years old
Proof: 55.9% ABV
Price: $125
Release: February 2019
Availability: 249 bottles; for sale at the distillery only

Need to know:

After an initial release in 2018, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is bringing back its bourbon finished in barrels that previously were used to mature honey. The 11 year old bourbon is sourced from MGP Distillery and bottled at cask strength.

Whisky Advocate says:

Unlike flavored whiskeys that included actual honey or sweetener, this bourbon has no added ingredients. The barrels were used to store honey from TruBee Honey, which is close to the distillery in Nashville, but all the honey was emptied before the bourbon was added. Funnily enough, honey is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts water, and it actually dried out the barrel to the point that it leaked when refilled with bourbon. Luckily, the whiskey eventually hydrated the wood so that it swelled up enough to seal all the cracks.

Balcones Rum Cask-Finished Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Texas
Age: Not stated
Proof: 63.5% ABV
Price: $80
Release: February 2019
Availability: Limited edition; for sale at the distillery only

Need to know:

In addition to making single malt, bourbon, and corn whiskeys, Balcones makes other spirits, including rum. The casks used to mature that rum were repurposed for finishing Balcones’ single malt.

Whisky Advocate says:

Many distilleries go full-circle with their barrels, using them first for bourbon or rye, then lending them to other producers to age something else—say, beer—before taking them back to use for finishing the whiskey. It’s less common to see a distillery keeping the whole process in-house, as Balcones has done here.

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