Maker’s Mark RC6 Stave, 40 Year Old Macallan & More New Whisky

A comeback is an exciting thing—especially when it involves a beloved whiskey. In addition to the return of Smooth Ambler’s Old Scout 99 Proof Bourbon (more on that below and in this article), Old Forester has brought back its 1910 Old Fine Whisky. Initially released in October 2018, the bourbon was such a success that it sold out quickly—but Old Forester now has plans in place to ensure that won’t happen again. Similarly, Old Forester’s sister brand Woodford Reserve is rolling out more bottles of its straight malt whiskey which sold out shortly after launching in June 2018.

Many brand-new whiskies are also hitting shelves now. First up, Maker’s Mark is debuting the first in a series of limited-edition bourbons finished with unique wood staves. Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series: Stave Profile RC6 is available in limited amounts for $60.

Meanwhile, the extremely limited Macallan Fine & Rare 1979 Vintage is now available. The single malt is 40 years old and costs $14,500.

More widely available, Dewar’s 8 year old Caribbean Smooth is a blended scotch finished in rum casks. It’s priced at $22.

William Grant & Sons is launching the first whiskies in the United States from its Ailsa Bay Distillery. Aerstone Land Cask and Sea Cask are both 10 year old single malts, priced at $30 and widely available.

Highland Park has a new 16 year old single malt debuting. Twisted Tattoo is $100 and available in limited amounts.

Over in Kentucky, Lux Row Distillers is launching a limited-edition bourbon. Lux Row 12 year old Double Barrel is priced at $150, with just 6,000 bottles for sale in Kentucky only.

A 29 year old single malt from the now-destroyed Littlemill Distillery is rolling out. Priced at $3,999, the whisky is available in very limited amounts.

The Chicken Cock brand is adding a new Kentucky straight bourbon to its lineup. Priced at $60, the whiskey is widely available.

Mississippi’s Cathead Distillery has unveiled a blended straight bourbon called Old Soul, comprised of its own bourbon as well as some sourced from MGP Distillery. The whiskey is available mainly in the Southeast for $45.

Finger Lakes Distilling is launching its first single malt, aged for 10 years. The whiskey is initially available at the New York distillery for $150, with plans for expansion.

Clonakilty Distillery in Ireland has rebranded its core blended whiskey as Single Batch Double Oak-Finished. The liquid itself remains the same as before, and is available in several East Coast states, priced at $50.

Finally, spirits delivery service Flaviar is partnering with WhistlePig and four chefs to create a custom rye. Just 1,000 bottles of WhistlePig x Flaviar Chef’s Blend are available only to subscribers for $125.

Read on for full details.

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series: Stave Profile RC6

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 54.1% ABV
Price: $60
Release: September 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This is Maker’s Mark bourbon that has been finished with special staves, known at the distillery as RC6. The staves were air-seasoned for 18 months before being toasted in a convection oven. The result is that the bourbon’s fruit and baking spice flavors are more prominent.

Whisky Advocate says:

While special editions of Maker’s Mark can be found through its Private Select program, which allows retailers, restaurants, bars, and others to create custom finishing barrels, this is the first limited edition from the distillery to be released nationally. There’s not much of it, however, as Maker’s has put together just 255 barrels. But the distillery plans to release more limited-edition bourbons in the Wood Finishing Series going forward—and, thanks to its partnership with barrel maker Independent Stave Co., it should have no trouble devising plenty of interesting and delicious finishing-barrel variations.

Macallan Fine & Rare 1979 Vintage

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 40 years old
Proof: 57.2% ABV
Price: $14,500
Release: September 2019
Availability: Very limited

Need to know:

The latest release in Macallan’s Fine & Rare line of super-aged whiskies was distilled on February 19, 1979 and aged in a single sherry puncheon for 40 years. It’s bottled at cask strength.

Whisky Advocate says:

Macallan isn’t disclosing how many bottles of this whisky are available, but past releases give some indication: The 1977 Vintage (released in January 2018) comprised just 151 bottles, of which four came to the U.S., while the 1978 Vintage (released in December 2018) totaled 243 bottles, including five for the U.S. Both of those whiskies were matured in hogsheads, which are roughly 65 U.S. gallons; with this 1979 Vintage coming from a puncheon (132 U.S. gallons), it’s likely that more bottles will be available, although much depends on evaporation.

Dewar's 8 year old Caribbean Smooth Rum Cask-Finished

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: 8 years old
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $22
Release: September 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

After combining roughly 40 different malt and grain whiskies aged at least 8 years, this whisky is then finished in Caribbean rum casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Rum casks are a popular finishing vessel for single malts, including the recently released Ardbeg Drum, but only a few blended scotches, like Grant’s, have taken the cask-finishing route. Dewar’s 8 year old Caribbean Smooth is the first in a series of planned cask-finished blends for the brand.

Aerstone 10 year old Sea Cask and 10 year old Land Cask

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Lowlands)
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $29
Release: September 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Made at William Grant & Son’s Ailsa Bay Distillery under the oversight of master blender Brian Kinsman, these two whiskies are aged for 10 years. Each is designed to embody a distinct flavor profile. Sea Cask is unpeated, described as “Speyside-style” but with salty notes, alleged to come from aging on Scotland’s coast. Land Cask is peated; it’s matured in warehouses set inland. Both whiskies were previously released in the UK. Land Cask scored 87 points in the Whisky Advocate Buying Guide, while Sea Cask scored 88 points.

Whisky Advocate says:

Ailsa Bay Distillery is located in Scotland’s Lowlands region, but neither of these whiskies falls into the “Lowlands style” that’s usually touted—light, grassy, triple-distilled. In fact, Sea Cask is explicitly described as Speyside-style by William Grant & Sons. The two whiskies are designed to help demystify the language used in describing scotch flavor.

Does a scotch’s region have an impact on its flavor? I explore this question in the Fall issue of Whisky Advocate, hitting newsstands on October 8.

Highland Park 16 year old Twisted Tattoo

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islands)
Age: 16 years old
Proof: 46.7% ABV
Price: $100
Release: September 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Matured in both first-fill bourbon casks and Rioja wine-seasoned casks, this whisky aged for 16 years. The packaging was designed by tattoo artist Colin Dale and reflects Viking carving designs and the Midgard, a giant serpent from Norse mythology.

Whisky Advocate says:

Art-driven packaging isn’t new, although some brands are upping the stakes in this arena (more on that in our Winter issue, coming out in December). In fact, this isn’t even the first tattoo artist-designed bottle of whisky; last year, Bulleit released a series of four limited-edition bottles decorated with tattoo designs.

Lux Row 12 year old Double Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 59.2% ABV
Price: $150
Release: September 2019
Availability: 6,000 bottles; for sale in KY only

Need to know:

Exclusively released in Kentucky, this bourbon celebrates the anniversary of the opening of Lux Row Distillers in 2018. It’s a batched product, made up of two-barrel combinations; each bottle will include information about the ages of the barrels used.

Whisky Advocate says:

Located in Bardstown, Kentucky, Lux Row Distillers is the home of brands like Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell, David Nicholson, and Blood Oath. While parent company Luxco has used sourced whiskey in the past, it’s now distilling and aging at Lux Row with the goal of bringing all production in-house.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 99 Proof Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: 5 years old
Proof: 49.5% ABV
Price: $45
Release: September 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Three years after removing it from the market due to lack of supply, Smooth Ambler has brought back its Old Scout bourbon. The whiskey was distilled at MGP and aged for 5 years, and Smooth Ambler has plans in place to ensure it doesn’t run out again.

Whisky Advocate says:

While Old Scout was around 7 years old at the time it was discontinued, it originated as a 5 year old bourbon, and master distiller John Little says that “it’s ready now.” I spoke with Little a few weeks ago, ahead of the re-release, and he opened up about his regrets in discontinuing Old Scout and his goals for the whiskey’s future.

Littlemill 29 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Lowlands)
Age: 29 years old
Proof: 47.3% ABV
Price: $3,999
Release: September 2019
Availability: 600 bottles for the world, including some for the U.S.

Need to know:

Made at Littlemill Distillery—which closed in 1994 and was destroyed in 2004—this whisky initially matured in refill bourbon casks. Seven casks were combined and then finished in first-fill oloroso sherry and Limousin oak casks. There are 600 bottles available globally, of which an unspecified number are coming to the U.S.

Whisky Advocate says:

This is the third release in the Littlemill Private Cellar series, which also includes a 25 year old (released in 2015) and a 27 year old (2017), each put together by master blender Michael Henry. The whisky comes packaged with a 50-ml mini-bottle (so you can taste it without opening the full-size one) and a piece of an original cask.

Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $60
Release: September 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

This straight bourbon made in Kentucky is a permanent addition to the Chicken Cock brand. It joins Chicken Cock Beer Barrel Select, as well as the limited-edition 8 year old 160th Anniversary (88 points) and 10 year old Double Barrel (91 points) bourbons in the lineup.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Chicken Cock brand has had a long history, starting in the 1850s and extending to the mid-20th century. In more recent times, the name was used mainly for flavored whiskeys, but a few years ago, the focus shifted to true whiskey. Chicken Cock doesn’t have its own distillery, but partners with Bardstown Bourbon Co.—which mainly distills for other brands, in addition to its own—to create its whiskeys.

Cathead Old Soul Blended Straight Bourbon

Style: Blend of straight bourbons
Origin: Multiple (IN and MS)
Age: 2 years old
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $45
Release: September 2019
Availability: AL, AR, GA, KY, LA, MS, OK, NC, SC, TN, and TX as well as via cellar.com

Need to know:

This whiskey blends straight bourbons from MGP Distillery in Indiana and Cathead’s Mississippi distillery. All the bourbon is aged in Mississippi for at least 2 years before blending. The makeup is as follows:

  • 55% straight bourbon aged for 4 years and 8 months
  • 35% straight bourbon aged for 4 years and 3 months
  • 10% straight bourbon aged for 2 years and 1 month

Whisky Advocate says:

Blending house-made whiskey with sourced product isn’t uncommon among new distilleries, but Cathead claims that its whiskey expresses local terroir because all of the liquid—even that distilled in Indiana—is aged in Mississippi. Stay tuned for a review of Old Soul in an upcoming issue of Whisky Advocate.

McKenzie Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: New York
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $150
Release: September 2019
Availability: 350 bottles for sale at the distillery only, with eventual expansion planned

Need to know:

One of the first whiskeys made at Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, New York, this whisky is among the oldest American single malts ever released. It’s made with 100% malted barley, 75% of which was grown in New York, and was aged in a combination of new oak, bourbon, and sherry casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

While the distillery is initially releasing just 350 bottles, it has plans to produce 10-30 barrels a year and expand distribution more widely. The price of $150 might seem steep, but there are very few American single malts aged more than 6-8 years. To my knowledge, only The Notch from Nantucket’s Triple Eight Distillery has released single malt at older than 10 years. Look for a review of this whiskey in an upcoming issue!

Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak-Finished Irish Whiskey

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43.6% ABV
Price: $50
Release: Summer 2019
Availability: CT, DE, FL, MA, MD, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know:

Ireland’s Clonakilty is rebranding its core cask-finished whiskey as Clonakilty Single Batch Double Oak-Finished. The blended whiskey is sourced from undisclosed Irish producers and finished in both virgin American oak and shaved, toasted, and recharred Bordeaux red wine casks, which the distillery has dubbed “New Era of Cask (NEOC).”

Whisky Advocate says:

Previously known as Clonakilty Single Batch Irish whiskey (87 points), nothing about this whiskey has changed beyond its name and packaging; the update is intended to more clearly communicate the whiskey’s cask finish.

WhistlePig x Flaviar Chef's Blend

Style: Rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $125, plus Flaviar membership ($300/year or $95/quarter)
Release: October 2019
Availability: 1,000 bottles available exclusively via Flaviar

Need to know:

Spirits delivery service Flaviar has partnered with WhistlePig and four James Beard-nominated chefs to create a custom version of WhistlePig’s Old World rye whiskey dubbed Chef’s Blend. WhistlePig x Flaviar Chef’s Blend was distilled at MGP from a mashbill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, and aged for 12 years. The whiskey was finished in four different wine casks, and blended together with the following proportions: 40% madeira cask finish, 30% sherry cask finish, 20% port cask finish, and 10% sauternes cask finish.

Whisky Advocate says:

Chefs Michael Gulotta of MoPho and Maypop in New Orleans, Jamie Malone of Grand Café in Minneapolis, David Posey of Elske in Chicago, and Justin Woodward of Castagna in Portland met in Vermont this past June to create this custom blend, and each will host a special pairing dinner this month at their respective restaurants to celebrate. You have to be a Flaviar member to attend and, likewise, to purchase a bottle of this whiskey. Unlike other whisky subscription delivery services, Flaviar sends its members samples (plus a full bottle) once a quarter to encourage exploratory tasting.

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