Whisky Advocate

New whiskies

April 11th, 2011

A bunch of new whiskies have come across my desk lately, which isn’t so bad considering this is normally the slow time of the year for new releases. I thought I would share this information with you, because they will be coming on the market soon, if they haven’t already.

Keep in mind that this is from a U.S. perspective. Those of you living across the pond sometimes get these releases well ahead of us here in the U.S. And sometimes, as is often the case with bourbon, you will probably get them later–if at all. So, in the long run, I guess it all averages out.

This is sort of an informal synopsis–more like a quick “heads up.” More details (including formal reviews, prices, etc.) will come later here on this blog and also in the next issue of Malt Advocate.

The first item I want to mention is the Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary bottling, which I received just this past Friday. It’s shown here (a little blurry–sorry about that), with a fairly good dent in it already from weekend festivities with friends, next to the 150th Anniversary bottling which I also have and opened up last year on my 50th Birthday. This 175th Anniversary bottling is great! Well done, Glenfarclas. (Incidentally, my bottle is 70cl, so I am not sure when this release will be finding its way to the U.S.)

Auchentoshan has a new Sherry Matured 1998 Vintage limited release, bottled at cask strength. I have a tendency to prefer less sherry in delicate whiskies like Auchentoshan, but this sherried version isn’t overbearing. I actually enjoyed it the other day with a very mild cigar.

Another new release that impressed me was a special, single cask version of Ardmore “Traditional Cask” by Julio’s Liquors up in Westborough, Mass. Ardmore Traditional Cask is usually a batch bottling with no age statement. While I’ve enjoyed it over the years, I always wished it had more maturity to it. This single cask offering by Julio’s is a 1998 vintage 12 year old, and it nicely matured and very delicious!

On the bourbon side, I just tasted several new releases. The new Four Roses limited release for 2011 is a 12 year old at barrel proof. It’s very nice–elegant, spicy, and well-matured. I don’t think Four Roses fans will have anything to complain about here.

There has also been an improvement in the formula to Jefferson’s Bourbon. On the outside (as you see in this picture) everything looks the same, but one sip will tell you that it’s more mature than previous standard Jefferson’s release. I’m told by the brand manager that there’s some whiskey in there in the high teens.

And while we’re on the subject of Jefferson’s, I tasted a sample of a Jefferson Presidential Select 18 year old from a single cask purchased by Park Avenue Liquor in New York, and it was stunning! This juice is from the old Stitzel-Weller distillery. The standard releases of the remaining stock of this stuff (most recently as 17 and 18 year old) is in small batch form. They have varied from good to outstanding. This single cask offering might just be the best of the several releases I have tasted. To put it in perspective: after I worked my way through my review sample, I contacted Park Avenue Liquor and ordered a bottle!

There’s a new Jim Beam “Devil’s Cut.” It’s like the standard Jim Beam, but with more wood spices.

On the Irish side of things, I don’t think I had the chance to tell you yet that, as you may have seen, Michael Collins has a face lift. The bottle is more traditional looking when compared to the original release (which I thought looked a little quirky). More importantly, the single malt expression now has an age statement–10 years old–and the whiskey inside is very good! (Much better than the previous stuff.) Cooley really has some nice whiskeys maturing, and the Michael Collins brand is benefiting from this.

A few more other quick notes: As of last week, I was informed that whisky from the Swedish Mackmyra distillery is now in the U.S. (New York, to be exact.) This was from my contact at Mackmyra. That’s all the information I have right now, but more will follow.

Also, for many years, Buffalo Trace has been working on creating the perfect bourbon. (This includes deconstructing and analyzing whiskey reviews and ratings by a handful of whiskey writers, including yours truly.) There’s a press event at Buffalo Trace later this month, and rumor has it that there just might be an unveiling of this “perfect bourbon.” Stay tuned!

(On an administrative note, would you like me to do more of these informal updates on a regular basis in the future?)

23 Responses to “New whiskies”

  1. Hi John,

    I like posts like these. Normal tasting notes are fine too, but these informal ones are very informative as well. Guess you just created a bit more maneuvering space to put the perspective “i ordered one” in here, which might be a bit out of place in a formal published note.

    Thanks for this!

    • John Hansell says:

      Good point. And to be perfectly honest, the last thing I need is another bottle of bourbon in my house. (Well, that’s what my wife thinks anyway.) But knowing how rare this whiskey is–and how good it is–I would be a fool if I didn’t get a bottle for later enjoyment.

  2. John Hansell says:

    George Grant (from Glenfarclas) just informed me that the 175th Anniversary bottling won’t be coming to the U.S. My apologies for the unintentional tease. U.S. residents: now you know what to get when you are overseas…

  3. Ed in PA says:

    I like these kinds of posts too. I stumbled on a bottle of Jefferson 17 last summer – but didn’t give it a proper taste until late fall (the night I openned it was after several George T Staggs and William Larue Wellers) – and it was stunning – I search and couldn’t find any more ot he 17’s, but I have two of the 18s. Do you know how to tell the difference between the “old” Jefferson Small Batch, and the “New” ones? I bought a bottle late fall – and while good, it’s not great. I was wondering if I have the stuff with the high teens in it or not.

    Have you tried the BT Experimentals for 2011? I was able to get a bottle of each – and my initial impressions are very favorable for all three.

    • John Hansell says:

      Ed, my guess is that you have the old one, given they just sent me the new version last week. I doubt they would have waited six months to tell me. (But I am not 100% certain.)

      And yes, I have tasted (and reviewed) all three Buffalo Trace Experimental Collections for 2011. Reviews are coming soon, but the short answer is that I liked all three–very high 80s, pushing 90, if my memory serves me correctly.

  4. bj reed says:

    Thanks John – To your last point – Some of my buying decisions when I am in the U.K. are based on whether those same bottles will be available in the U.S. because I might wait to purchase them here – Keeping us posted on new releases that are just for U.S. market – Those releases that start in U.K. but will find there way here and those that are released for other international markets that will never get here (or only for duty free for instance) is really helpful to me in terms of some of the buying decisions I make.

    Keep that information flowing because it is often difficult to collate all of that information easily.

    Heading to U.K. in a month – Looks like Glenfarclas 175 will have to be added to the list :)

  5. Andre Girard says:

    Nice post John.

    Have a bottle of Auchentoshan 1998 too waiting to be reviewed… Reading your comment… it migth be tonite !

    Can’t wait to read your comments on Mackmyra. These guys made a real good job with their releases. Really liked the PRELUDIUM and also have 2 more different bottles to be opened in the waiting file.

    All these new distilleries and the new “micro-distillery wave” will certainly shake the “single malt and whiskies world”. Really good stuff from all around the world to be discovered!

  6. Yes please – these informal round-up type updates between formal reviews are very tasty! Thanks John!

  7. Ryan says:

    Big yes to this: “On an administrative note, would you like me to do more of these informal updates on a regular basis in the future?” Great fun reading about the “fairly good dent in it (Glenfarclas 175) already from weekend festivities with friends,” and your being wowed by a retail exclusive single cask JPS18.

  8. Matt says:

    Yes, please, I enjoy these posts alongside the more formal ones.

  9. PeteR says:

    John,

    I’ve been basing most of my new (never tried before) purchases on postings on your blog. I appreciate the early “heads up” as I infrequently see something new that I’m interested in but haven’t yet seen a review for. Please keep it up!

  10. Vince says:

    Information! Information! Information! I love it John, keep them coming. I have 3 bottles of the Jefferson Presidential 17 (which I love). I havent purchased the 18 year old because I can still get the 17 year old for $30 less. However, if I can get my hands on that single barrel 18, that may be a different story.

    My first whiskyfest this Friday! Really looking forward to it.

  11. Chris says:

    Please do more of these more informal posts. The tasting posts are great as well, but as has already been mentioned these sorts of “heads up” posts allow to you mention things that might be out of place in a formal review (like the fact that you made sure to order a bottle yourself).

  12. A. Marina Fournier says:

    I appreciate all sorts of whisky info–all styles, too–as I never know when I’ll need to pick that data out of my brain/disk at a moment’s notice.

    Alas, my frequent UK visitors are not knowledgeable enough to purchase whisky there, to the degree that they purchase wine *here*. I hope I can afford WhiskyFest SF this year–it’s often the only way I get to sample whiskies new to me without buying the entire $$gulp$$ bottle on a bet. When visiting each table, I only ask for pours of the oldest or never seen items, and short pours at that, due to being female and not able to carry much drink in me (drat). I don’t think I could handle trade events that I imagine you visit, without risking a lot of damage to my liver. Wrong genetics, blast it.

    Keep writing whatever you feel we’ll find interesting or valuable to know!

  13. JD says:

    I agree that posts like this are great, please keep them coming. And I would also submit that they are perfectly in line with the stated purpose of the blog (as in getting the word out about “What Does John Know?”).

  14. M Lange says:

    Don’t forget the little guys! Koval out of Chicago is releasing aged versions of their white whiskeys; I’ve got a bottle of their Dark Rye yesterday. Very clean, mabye a little too clean for a rye, but with a hint of spearmint and a nice creamy mouthfeel. Worth a try for a change of pace!

  15. David Schwan says:

    I enjoyed this type of informal review and update. Yes, please do more informal reviews.
    This type of quick update is a great tip of what new products are out here.

  16. JIM COLE says:

    YES, PLEASE DO MORE INFORMAL REVIEWS.

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