Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare, Jameson Caskmates IPA, Orphan Barrel Entrapment & More New Whisky

With just 24 shopping days left until Christmas (and only 11 until the first night of Hanukkah, which this year starts on December 12), there’s no end of great whiskies lining up on shelves, waiting to be taken home and enjoyed.

Johnnie Walker has a new, limited-edition Blue Label called Ghost and Rare, which includes whiskies from silent distilleries (though one, Brora, won’t be silent for much longer). It costs $400 and comes in a gift-ready box.

Jameson is launching a new expression of Caskmates, its beer barrel-finished whiskey. Whereas Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition is finished in, duh, stout casks, this one is finished in IPA casks for a verifiable hoppy bite. The price is the same for both—$30.

The latest release in the Orphan Barrel series of old whiskies comes from Canada’s Crown Royal Distillery. Entrapment was intended for use in a blend when it was distilled from corn and a tiny amount of malted barley, but instead it aged for 25 years and is now being bottled solo. It costs $150 and, like all Orphan Barrel bottlings, is limited in quantity.

A brace of Old Pulteneys will hit the market early next year (so if you want to give one for a holiday gift, better write out an IOU). Old Pulteney 25 year old replaces the 21 year old in the core lineup, and costs $599. Old Pulteney 1983 Vintage is a limited-time-only release that’ll set you back almost $1,000. Both are available in limited amounts—just 150 bottles of the 1983 Vintage are coming to the U.S.

But there’s another new whisky that’s even more spendy and limited—Bowmore 1966 50 year old. It costs $30,000 and there are only 74 bottles in the world.

Jefferson’s is debuting a 16 year old bourbon that will retail at $200. The sourced bourbon spent 11 years in new charred oak before being recasked into additional new charred oak barrels for five more years.

Finally, Teeling’s fourth Revival single malt is now available in Ireland and other markets outside the U.S. It was matured for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Muscat port casks. Read on for full details.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $400
Release: December 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This new blend for Johnnie Walker Blue Label includes whiskies from three silent (aka “ghost”) distilleries: Brora, Pittyvaich, and Cambus. The other malt and grain whiskies in the blend come from Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, and Cameronbridge.

Whisky Advocate says:

While this whisky openly touts the whiskies from silent distilleries that are used in its blend, it’s not unique in the practice. Many blended whiskies incorporate casks from distilleries that have closed. For example, if you’ve had Big Peat, then you’ve tasted Port Ellen. And some other Johnnie Walker blends have likely included Brora—we just haven’t heard about it. (By the way, both Brora and Port Ellen are soon to be silent no more, as Diageo recently announced plans to rebuild and reopen both distilleries.)

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $30
Release: December 2017
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

When Jameson released the first Caskmates in 2015, it was finished in stout barrels from Ireland’s Franciscan Well Brewery. This new, additional version is finished in Franciscan Well’s IPA casks. Don’t worry—regular Caskmates isn’t going anywhere.

Whisky Advocate says:

Caskmates was originally a limited-edition product, but has been so popular that it’s now a core part of Jameson’s lineup. The trend has staying power: many other distilleries also offer beer barrel-finished whiskies, from scotch to bourbon.

Orphan Barrel Entrapment

Style: Grain whisky
Origin: Canada
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 41% ABV
Price: $150
Release: December 2017
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

The 11th Orphan Barrel release is the first one to be made in Canada. This whisky was made from 97% corn and 3% malted barley at Crown Royal’s Gimli distillery. It aged for 25 years in American oak barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series has been wildly popular in the three years since the launch of the first whiskeys, Old Blowhard and Barterhouse. The company has modified its messaging slightly with Entrapment. Rather than saying the barrels were “forgotten” in a warehouse, Diageo’s statement about Entrapment is that “these barrels aren’t necessarily forgotten, but instead not chosen for another blend becoming almost hidden treasures.” In an age when nearly every whisky warehouse’s inventory is organized using computers, the idea of any cask being forgotten seems pretty improbable—but it’s certainly true that some casks get passed up for blending time and again, until they’re so old and unique they get used in some other capacity.

Old Pulteney 25 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 25 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $599
Release: Early 2018
Availability: 450 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Matured in both ex-bourbon and Spanish oak sherry casks, this 25 year old single malt replaces Old Pulteney 21 year old, which is being phased out. It will hit shelves in the first quarter of 2018.

Old Pulteney 1983 Vintage

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 33 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $999
Release: Early 2018
Availability: 120 bottles for the U.S.

Need to know:

Distilled in 1983 at Pulteney Distillery, this is a 33 year old single malt matured in ex-bourbon and Spanish sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Both of these new releases from Old Pulteney are highly limited, with prices to match their ages and small quantities. The 25 year old will continue to be available from year to year, but the 1983 vintage is one and done. Get it while you can!

Bowmore 1966 50 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: 50 years old
Proof: 41.5% ABV
Price: $30,000
Release: December 2017
Availability: 74 bottles for the world

Need to know:

The third 50 year old whisky from Bowmore’s Vaults Legend Collection, this single malt spent its whole life aging in the distillery’s Islay warehouses. 1966 was the first year Bowmore was bottled as a single malt whisky, rather than part of blend.

Whisky Advocate says:

Diehard Bowmore drinkers know how legendary the stuff from the 1960s is reputed to be—though unless you have big money these days, you’ll be hard pressed to afford any. That said, there can’t be much more of it left, so if you’re ready to lay down the dollars, go for it—and tell us how it tastes.

Jefferson's Presidential Select 16 year old

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 16 years old
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $200
Release: November 2017
Availability: 10,000 bottles

Need to know:

This bourbon matured for 11 years in new charred oak barrels in Kentucky. Then it was transferred into additional new charred oak barrels for another five years of aging.

Whisky Advocate says:

Jefferson’s Bourbon, which is sourced from undisclosed Kentucky distilleries, tends to score very well around 17-18 years old. We look forward to seeing how this 16 year old holds up.

Teeling The Revival Volume IV

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: 15 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: €120.00 (about $143)
Release: November 2017
Availability: 10,000 bottles for the world

Need to know:

Teeling Whiskey Company has released three limited-edition Revival single malts—a 15 year old matured in rum casks, a 13 year old finished in calvados casks, and a 14 year old finished in pineau des Charentes casks—and now is rolling out its fourth. This is a 15 year old single malt that matured in ex-bourbon casks before a 12-month finishing period in Muscat port barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Teeling’s Revival single malts are all sourced, celebrating the distillery’s opening in 2015—the first new whiskey distillery in Dublin in over a century. The fifth and final Revival will launch in 2018, when Teeling’s own whiskey comes of age. Sadly, this bottling is not available in the U.S.

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