Kentucky Peerless Bourbon, Old Charter Oak From Buffalo Trace & More New Whisky

Fans of The Walking Dead can look forward to a special bourbon coming out sometime later this year, but if you’re looking for new whisky to drink now, keep reading.

Two years after releasing its acclaimed straight rye, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. in Louisville is debuting its first straight bourbon, aged for four years. It will be priced at $70 and initially available in Kentucky before rolling out more widely.

Buffalo Trace Distillery has unveiled the second release in its Old Charter Oak collection. Old Charter Oak French Oak has a recommended price of $70 and will be available in limited amounts.

A 12 year old straight bourbon produced at Bardstown Bourbon Co. is hitting shelves. The second batch of Sam Houston 12 year old is available in a handful of states, priced at $100.

Meanwhile, Four Gate 11 year old bourbon, finished in a sherry-rum cask (keep reading—it’s explained below), was recently released in Kentucky and Tennessee. The company aims to produce several different batches of whiskey each year; this first batch is priced at $199.

A new single malt scotch from Islay is hitting shelves soon. Scarabus was bottled by Hunter Laing, an independent bottler that also owns Ardnahoe Distillery. It will be widely available in the U.S. at $39.

An unusual American whiskey called Wolves is coming out. Blending two whiskeys distilled from beer (stout and pilsner) at Charbay Distillery and a rye whiskey from MGP, Wolves First Run is priced at $150 and available exclusively online.

Finally, Richmond, Virginia’s Reservoir Distillery has a whole host of new whiskeys: Maison de Cuivre ($135), a red wine cask-finished bourbon; Hunter & Scott ($50), whiskey made with majority rye; Holland’s Ghost ($130), a bourbon-style whiskey finished in stout casks; Holland’s Milkman ($130), finished in milk stout casks; and Holland’s Blade Rummer ($130), finished in Caribbean rum casks. All the whiskeys are available in limited amounts, with future batches to come.

Read on for full details.

Kentucky Peerless Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 4 years old
Proof: Varies (barrel proof)
Price: $70
Release: June 2019
Availability: Initially in KY, then CA, FL, IL, NY, TX, and Washington, D.C. this fall

Need to know:

Two years after releasing its inaugural whiskey, a 2 year old straight rye, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. is launching its bourbon. Aged four years, the whiskey will first be available in Kentucky, and will roll out to additional states in September/October.

Whisky Advocate says:

Peerless made a splash with its rye two years ago; the 2 year old whiskey scored 91 points and was number 15 in the 2017 Top 20, proving its mettle in a strong field of contenders. Expectations are high for this bourbon, and we look forward to publishing a review in the next issue of Whisky Advocate. Also of note: the price for the bourbon is significantly less than that of the rye, $70 compared to $125, which should make this bottle more accessible to a greater number of drinkers.

Old Charter Oak French Oak

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $70
Release: June 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The second release in Buffalo Trace’s Old Charter Oak collection, this bourbon was distilled in 2007 and filled into new charred French oak barrels. The mashbill was Buffalo Trace’s #1 recipe, which uses rye as the secondary grain; this mashbill is used for brands like Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace, among others.

Whisky Advocate says:

The first release in this series was Old Charter Oak Mongolian Oak, which came out last December. The aim of these bourbons is to explore the impact of different oak species on flavor. In addition to Mongolian and French oak, there will be a Canadian oak release at some point, as well as other, unspecified future releases. Buffalo Trace has enough whiskey planned to support new releases at least through 2030.

Sam Houston 12 year old Straight Bourbon (Release No. 2)

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 49% ABV
Price: $100
Release: May 2019
Availability: CO, KY, IL, MD, NY, TN, TX, VA, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know:

This 12 year old bourbon was created by Bardstown Bourbon Co. for Western Spirits Beverage Co. The mashbill is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. Each state where the whiskey is distributed gets its own batch, made up of three barrels; the brand’s website provides details on the whiskey’s production and aging, including the areas of the warehouse in which the barrels matured.

Whisky Advocate says:

Although it recently began releasing its own whiskeys, Bardstown Bourbon also distills and produces whiskey for many partner companies, including Western Spirits. Bardstown selected the whiskeys for this batch from Western Spirits’ aging stock. Sam Houston 12 year old was first released in late 2018 in Tennessee and Texas; now, its second batch is coming out with wider availability.

Four Gate 11 year old Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 11 years old
Proof: 61.7% ABV
Price: $199
Release: Spring 2019
Availability: 1,732 bottles in KY and TN

Need to know:

This limited-edition bourbon comes from the new Four Gate Whiskey Co., founded by two Louisville natives. Aged for 11 years, the bourbon was then finished in “sherry-rum casks”—casks that initially held sherry, then were used for aging rum before finally becoming the finishing casks for this bourbon.

Whisky Advocate says:

Four Gate’s founders, Bob D’Antoni and Bill Straub, worked closely with Kentucky’s Kelvin Cooperage to develop their first release. They plan to continue collaborating with Kelvin and release 2-3 limited-edition whiskeys a year; the next 2019 batch will come out around Labor Day.

Hunter Laing Scarabus Islay Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $39
Release: June 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Sourced from an undisclosed Islay distillery, this single malt whisky was bottled by independent bottler Hunter Laing, which also owns the island’s recently opened Ardnahoe Distillery. “Scarabus” is a Norse word meaning “rocky place” and refers to a mystical area on Islay.

Whisky Advocate says:

Created as part of the breakup of the original Douglas Laing & Co., Hunter Laing is headed by Stewart Laing and his sons, Andrew and Scott. The company has spent the last few years building Ardnahoe Distillery on Islay, where legendary ex-Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan serves as production director, and it’s also an independent bottler—hence this single malt.

Wolves First Run

Style: Whiskey
Origin: California and Indiana
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53% ABV
Price: $150
Release: May 2019
Availability: 898 bottles; for sale online only

Need to know:

Billing itself as “California’s first luxury whiskey brand,” this unusual product blends rye whiskey from MGP Distillery with two whiskeys made by master distiller Marko Karakasevic at Charbay Distillery: an 8 year old whiskey distilled from Bear Republic stout and aged in French oak casks and a 5 year old whiskey distilled from Bear Republic pilsner, and aged in new charred American oak barrels. The whiskey is for sale online through ReserveBar.com and Flaviar.com.

Whisky Advocate says:

While whiskey distilled from beer isn’t anything new—and Marko Karakasevic has been doing it at Charbay for years—this is the first release I’ve seen that combines beer-distilled whiskey with rye. It will undoubtedly taste like nothing else out there. Look for a review in an upcoming issue of Whisky Advocate!

Reservoir Maison de Cuivre Bourbon (Batch 1)

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53.5% ABV
Price: $135
Release: May 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This 100% corn bourbon was aged for two years in 5-gallon new charred oak barrels, then finished in a French oak merlot cask. While each release is limited, there will be future batches of this whiskey.

Reservoir Hunter & Scott Rye

Style: Whiskey
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $50
Release: May 2019
Availability: DE, FL, MD, SC, VA, and Washington, D.C., as well as online

Need to know:

Reservoir distills from single-grain mashbills, e.g. 100% corn, 100% wheat, and 100% rye, maturing each distillate separately. Billed as a rye, this whiskey actually combines 100% rye whiskey (in a proportion of 67%) and 100% wheat whiskey (making up the rest at 33%). All the grain is grown in Virginia, where Reservoir is located.

Reservoir Holland's Ghost (Batch 1)

Style: Whiskey
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53.5% ABV
Price: $130
Release: May 2019
Availability: Limited edition; around 250 bottles per batch

Need to know:

Like Hunter & Scott, this is a vatting of multiple single-grain whiskeys: 70% of the corn mashbill with 15% wheat and 15% rye, all aged for at least two years in 5-gallon barrels. After the different whiskeys were vatted together, the final whiskey was finished for 6-8 months in a stout barrel from Ardent Craft Ales.

Reservoir Holland's Milkman (Batch 1)

Style: Whiskey
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53.5% ABV
Price: $130
Release: May 2019
Availability: Limited edition; around 250 bottles per batch

Need to know:

Similar to its sibling above, this whiskey is made up of 70% corn, 15% wheat, and 15% rye whiskeys. After aging for at least two years in 5-gallon barrels, the final vatting was finished for 12 months in a milk stout barrel.

Reservoir Holland's Blade Rummer (Batch 1)

Style: Whiskey
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53.5% ABV
Price: $130
Release: May 2019
Availability: Limited edition; around 250 bottles per batch

Need to know:

Another 70% corn, 15% wheat, and 15% rye whiskey, this was aged for at least two years in 5-gallon barrels and then the final vatting was finished in a Jamaican rum barrel.

Each of Reservoir’s limited-edition Holland’s whiskeys is released in batches of about 250 bottles, with multiple batches per year. The distillery’s offerings are available nearly nationally through online retailer Sherry’s.

Whisky Advocate says:

Reservoir’s single-grain process is rather unique among American whiskey makers. While blends of different single-grain bill whiskies are common in, say, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and elsewhere, here in the U.S., multiple grain mashbills—where all the grains are fermented together—are the norm. Reservoir describes Hunter & Scott as a rye and the Holland’s whiskeys as bourbons, but a vatting of different single-grain whiskeys cannot be considered a bourbon or rye, even if the grain proportions are technically correct (with at least 51% corn or 51% rye). The standards of identity as regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau require such whiskeys to be made from “a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent [corn, rye, etc.]”. It may be helpful to taste these whiskeys with the styles Reservoir ascribes to them in mind, as they’re likely very similar in flavor profile, but legally, they are classified as American whiskeys.

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