Oak Experiments From Buffalo Trace, New Bob Dylan Bourbon & More New Whisky

There’s so much new whisky coming out, it’s hard to know where to start! First things first: Blood Oath is releasing its first three “pacts”—annual batches—in a special gift pack for the holidays. Just 900 of the trilogy packs will be for sale nationwide for $599. Whisky Advocate’s Buying Guide scored Pact No. 1 82 points, Pact No. 2 88 points, and Pact No. 3 89 points.

Buffalo Trace Distillery has unveiled a new range of experimental bourbons as part of its Old Charter brand. The distillery has been experimenting with different types of oak for years, and the Old Charter Oak range will showcase some of the biggest successes, starting with Mongolian Oak. Different releases will have different availability, but in general, the whiskeys will be distributed nationwide. Mongolian Oak is priced at $70.

The Heaven’s Door brand—created in partnership with Bob Dylan—is releasing a 10 year old Tennessee straight bourbon. Available in limited amounts, it costs $130.

Two new single malt scotches with big age statements are rolling out: Aultmore 21 year old ($250) and Craigellachie 33 year old ($3,000). Each of the whiskies are available in limited quantities.

Big news from Ireland: the Spot brand (which includes Green and Yellow Spot) is adding Red Spot to the lineup. The 15 year old single pot still whiskey was matured in a mixture of casks, including marsala casks, and will be hitting shelves in the U.S. in January at a price of $120.

Fellow Irish whiskey Knappogue Castle is rolling out a series of cask-finished single malts. The first, French Oak Finish, was aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Château Pichon Baron wine casks. Priced at $80, just over 1,000 bottles are available.

The 2018 release of Odyssey Barley single malt from England’s Cotswolds Distillery has hit the U.S. With about double the amount of bottles available in 2017, the 4 year old whisky is priced at $60.

St. George Spirits in Alameda, California has released Lot 18 of its single malt, blending whiskies ranging from 4 to 19 years old. Priced at $100, there are 3,000 bottles of this batch available.

Balcones Distillery is releasing two limited-edition whiskeys: a wheated bourbon and a single barrel single malt. Both are available at the distillery only for $80 each.

Virginia’s KO Distilling is launching three barrel-proof single cask whiskeys: straight bourbon ($56), straight wheat ($50), and straight rye ($66). Each is available in the Mid-Atlantic, with expansion to more states planned.

Devils River also has a barrel-proof bourbon coming out ($40), as well as a rye ($25). Both whiskeys are available in a handful of states.

Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More in Memphis has released its latest private offerings, a 14 year old single barrel bourbon from Tennessee ($85) and a “double barrel” blend of bourbon and rye ($50). Both whiskeys are available only at the retailer.

Finally, Fusion Whisky is rolling out the second edition of The Winter Queen, its blend of Scottish and Dutch malt whiskies. Just 400 bottles are available, each for £195, but will not be sold in the U.S.

Read on for full details.

Old Charter Oak Mongolian Oak Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $70
Release: December 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Buffalo Trace Distillery is creating a new line of bourbons aged in a variety of oaks (from around the country and the world, of varying species, and of different ages when felled) as part of its Old Charter brand. The first release, Mongolian Oak, spent ten years maturing in barrels made of rare Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica). It will be available in limited amounts, although some future releases will be more widely available.

Whisky Advocate says:

Since the Old Charter brand was named after a famous oak tree—the Charter Oak of Hartford, Connecticut—it makes sense that Buffalo Trace would use the brand name for these whiskeys, which are focused on various oak barrels. For well over a decade, the distillery has been experimenting with barrels made of different oak species (like Mongolian oak), oak of different ages (some oak trees up to 200 years old), and oak from different parts of the country and world—exploring the question, “What would whiskey aged in these different types of oak taste like?” (It’s a question Whisky Advocate has explored too.)

Now drinkers will get a chance to find out. Mongolian Oak is the first release in the Old Charter Oak series, which Buffalo Trace describes as similar to the E.H. Taylor brand—including a core whiskey, with limited-edition offshoots. Future releases will feature French oak, Canadian oak, and more. I recently sampled the whiskeys and found interesting and intriguing flavors in each of them. If you’re interested in tasting the difference oak can make, I recommend checking them out.

Heaven's Door 10 year old Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Tennessee
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $130
Release: December 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This is a 10 year old Tennessee bourbon that underwent the Lincoln County Process—so technically it could be labeled as a Tennessee whiskey. It is part of the Heaven’s Door brand, which was started in affiliation with Bob Dylan. The whiskey’s bottle is decorated with one of Dylan’s iron artworks, and the box it’s packaged in includes lyric sheets for “Maggie’s Farm” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Whisky Advocate says:

The first whiskeys from Heaven’s Door came out earlier this year: bourbon (89 points), rye, and Double Barrel (90 points). The company is currently sourcing its whiskey, but plans to build and open a distillery in Nashville in 2019.

Red Spot

Style: Single pot still whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: 15 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $120
Release: January 2019 in the U.S.
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Fifty years since it was last on the market, Red Spot single pot still Irish whiskey has returned, joining its siblings Green Spot and Yellow Spot. Triple distilled and aged for 15 years in a combination of bourbon, oloroso sherry, and marsala wine casks, the whiskey has rich fruit and spice flavors.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Spot range—a historical brand created by wine merchant Mitchell & Son in the late 19th century—is made at Midleton Distillery in Cork, and is one of the leading examples of single pot still whiskey, a style that is unique to Ireland. The range also includes Yellow Spot (91 points) and Green Spot (91 points), and its offshoots, Green Spot Chateau Montelena (91 points) and Green Spot Château Léoville-Barton (89 points). The spots correspond to ages: 10 year old Green, 12 year old Yellow, and now 15 year old Red. Once upon a time, there was a 7 year old Blue Spot—think we’ll see its revival in the future?

Aultmore 21 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $250
Release: November 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This single malt from Speyside’s Aultmore distillery aged for 21 years in a mix of refill bourbon and sherry hogsheads.

Whisky Advocate says:

An under-the-radar scotch, Aultmore is one of the key malt whiskies used in the Dewar’s blend. An Aultmore 21 year old was released a few years ago for travel retail only; it scored 86 points in the Buying Guide.

Craigellachie 33 year old

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 33 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $3,000
Release: November 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This 33 year old single malt from Speyside’s Craigellachie Distillery matured in refill hogsheads.

Whisky Advocate says:

On the heels of the announcement that Craigellachie would pour its 51 year old single malt for free to lucky whisky lovers around the world, this 33 year old’s price tag doesn’t feel quite so painful. There’s an expectation—based on the overall scores for Craigellachie’s distillery bottlings, which are consistently high—that the whisky will be pretty darn good. If you can afford it, this is sure to be a superb bottle.

Knappogue Castle 12 year old French Oak Cask Finish

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $80
Release: November 2018
Availability: 1,020 bottles

Need to know:

The first in a new series of limited-edition cask-finished whiskeys, this single malt was aged for 12 years in ex-bourbon casks, then finished in French oak wine casks from Bordeaux’s Château Pichon Baron.

Whisky Advocate says:

Knappogue Castle plans to release additional whiskeys in this special series, including some finished in barolo and marsala wine casks in 2019. If you want to learn more about cask finishing and its effect on whiskey, start with our multi-lesson primer.

Cotswolds 2014 Odyssey Barley (2018 Release)

Style: Single malt
Origin: England
Age: Around 4 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $60
Release: November 2018
Availability: 3,050 bottles, including 1,800 for the U.S.

Need to know:

The 2018 release of Cotswold’s Distillery’s Odyssey Barley single malt is hitting shelves in several states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. The whisky was aged in 30% ex-bourbon barrels and 70% ex-red wine casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

There are about twice as many bottles available of this year’s Odyssey Barley as there were in the inaugural release in 2017, and it’s being distributed in a lot more places. This is great news for whisky lovers, as we scored the first release 91 points in the Buying Guide. Cotswolds will continue releasing this whisky in batches (noted on the label) at progressively older ages, and also plans to roll out special limited editions starting in 2019.

St. George Single Malt (Lot 18)

Style: Single malt
Origin: California
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $100
Release: November 2018
Availability: 3,000 bottles

Need to know:

The latest batch of St. George Spirits’ single malt whiskey is rolling out. This iteration blends 4-19 year old whiskies made partly with barley that has been smoked over alder and beech and aged in a variety of casks, including bourbon, French oak wine, port, used rum, and California Sauternes-style wine casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Each release of St. George’s single malt varies slightly in flavor; the idea, according to the distillery, is to “increase expressiveness and flavor with every release—while staying true to our whiskey’s signature.” Whisky Advocate has reviewed a number of batches over the years, including Lot 14 (90 points), Lot 15 (88 points), and Lot 17 (87 points). Look for a review of Lot 18 in an upcoming issue.

Balcones Wheated Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Texas
Age: Not stated
Proof: 61% ABV
Price: $80
Release: November 2018
Availability: Distillery only

Need to know:

Made with a mashbill of blue corn, Texas red winter wheat, and Golden Promise barley, this bourbon is for sale only at Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas.

Balcones 2018 Staff Selection Single Malt

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Texas
Age: Not stated
Proof: 63.3% ABV
Price: $80
Release: November 2018
Availability: Distillery only

Need to know:

Made of 100% malted barley, this limited-edition single barrel whiskey has been chosen by Balcones’ staff members and is for sale at the distillery only.

Whisky Advocate says:

Located in Waco, Texas, Balcones enjoys a very hot, dry environment for maturing its whiskeys. As a result, they have big, robust flavors—made even more bold here by the high proofs.

Bare Knuckle Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 61.3% ABV
Price: $56
Release: November 2018
Availability: Regularly available

Need to know:

This bourbon is double-distilled from a mashbill of 70% corn, 20% wheat, and 10% malted barley, sourced from local Virginia farms. It is aged at least two years.

Bare Knuckle Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Wheat Whiskey

Style: Straight wheat whiskey
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 60.95% ABV
Price: $50
Release: November 2018
Availability: Regularly available

Need to know:

Made with a mashbill of 60% wheat, 30% rye, and 10% malted barley—all grown in Virginia—this whiskey is double-distilled and aged at least two years.

Bare Knuckle Single Barrel Cask Strength Straight Rye

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 62.4% ABV
Price: $66
Release: November 2018
Availability: Regularly available

Need to know:

This whiskey is made with 100% Virginia-grown rye, double distilled, and aged at least two years.

Whisky Advocate says:

The “KO” in KO Distilling’s name stands for Knock Out, and its whiskey brand is called Bare Knuckle in honor of old-fashioned boxing. Each whiskey is named for a historical boxer, like Jack G. Johnson (rye), Jimmy Gardner (wheat whiskey) and Mary “Texas Mamie” Donovan (bourbon). While bottled as single barrels, these cask-strength whiskeys will be a regular part of KO’s lineup.

Doc.52 14 year old bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Tennessee
Age: 14 years old
Proof: 60% ABV
Price: $85
Release: November 2018
Availability: 144 bottles at Doc's only

Need to know:

This is a 14 year old version of Doc.52’s previous single barrel bourbon, which was released at 9 years old and scored 90 points.

Doc.52 Two Barrel Blend of Straight Whiskeys

Style: Blend of straight whiskeys
Origin: Tennessee
Age: Not stated
Proof: 56% ABV
Price: $50
Release: November 2018
Availability: 288 bottles at Doc's only

Need to know:

This whiskey blends 9 year old straight bourbon and 2 year old straight rye from Tennessee. The bourbon’s rye content is only 8%, and the rye itself has the minimum 51% rye grain in the mashbill.

Whisky Advocate says:

Many retailers offer single barrel whiskeys, although only a few brand them under their own name. Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More in Memphis is taking this step, and even going a bit further with its custom blend of rye and bourbon.

 

Fusion Whisky The Winter Queen (2nd Release)

Style: Blended malt
Origin: Multiple (Scotland and the Netherlands)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 54.5% ABV
Price: £195
Release: November 2018
Availability: 400 bottles; not available in the U.S.

Need to know:

This blend of single malts from Scotland’s Bowmore, Mortlach, and Teaninich distilleries and Zuidam Distillery in the Netherlands is the second release under The Winter Queen name. (For more about why it’s called The Winter Queen, read up on the first release.) The youngest whisky in the blend is 19 years old, and the package includes blockchain technology to help verify and trace provenance.

Whisky Advocate says:

While not very common, blends of whiskies from multiple countries are becoming more popular. Fusion Whisky’s purpose is to bring together single malt scotch with single malts from across the world, which it has done with The Winter Queen, The Brisbane, the E&K, and The Glover.

More From Whisky Weekend