Whisky Advocate

My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskeys (Part 1)

October 5th, 2012

WhiskyFest San Francisco is tonight. WhiskyFest New York weekend is three weeks from tonight. Because of this, I don’t have much time to blog at the moment, but I did want to provide my informal thoughts on some new whiskies.

Let’s start with American whiskey. I’ll do another quick post next week sometime and address some new scotch whiskies I’ve tasted, along with some more bourbons.

I tasted my way through the newest Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and I must say that they are all great. If you normally like one or more of these whiskeys (Sazerac 18 yr., Eagle Rare 17 yr., George T. Stagg, Thomas H. Handy, and William Larue Weller) and you manage to find a bottle for sale somewhere, buy it! I don’t think you will be disappointed.

The new Colonel E. H. Taylor Straight Rye release is different than Buffalo Trace’s other Rye offerings. This one is very high in rye and has no corn in the mashbill. It’s a different flavor profile and you might want to try it before you buy it to make sure you like that style of rye. While a nice whiskey, I don’t put it on the same level as Sazerac 18 yr. old or even Thomas H. Handy Rye.

I’ve really been enjoying the new Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2012 Release. It’s one of the best Four Roses whiskeys I’ve ever tasted and one of the best bourbons I’ve tasted this year. Yes, high praise indeed.

As you know, after we named the initial single barrel release of Elijah Craig 20 yr. old our American Whisky of the Year, Heaven Hill decided to discontinue their 18 yr. old and start releasing limited amounts of Elijah Craig 20 yr. old nationwide. I’ve tasted my way through a few of the single barrels, and my favorite to date is Barrel No. 13. I don’t know where Barrel No. 13 went, but if you can find a bottle, I think you will like it. It’s not as elegant as the initial release, but it has a richer flavor. And while there is more wood influence (something that concerns me with well-aged bourbons), there are lovely sweet notes to balance the dry oak spices. (I also want to mention to be on the lookout for Elijah Craig 21 yr. old hitting the market soon.)

The new Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection releases are whiskeys aged in two large French oak barrels: one for 19 years, the other for 23 years. I enjoy the 19 yr. old release. It’s surprisingly nicely balanced, and defies its age. The 23 yr. old, however, is a different story. I think that one was left in the barrel too long and I would avoid that one if I were you.

P.S. Speaking of WhiskyFest San Francisco tonight, we have a first for WhiskyFest: Nikka 12 yr. and 15 yr. from Japan are on the pour list. While I enjoy Suntory’s Yamazaki and Hakushu, it’s nice to see a new Japanese whisky here in the U.S.

No Responses to “My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskeys (Part 1)”

  1. Bob Siddoway says:

    Man, that’s an impressive list of new whiskeys! I’m super excited.

    And how can anyone who likes American whiskey NOT enjoy the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection? The Stagg is always the stand-out. I’m hoping I can pick up a few bottles of that beast soon…

  2. Chris says:

    Happy to see that Nikka will be at WhiskyFest tonight and is going to launch soon here in the US.. I’m assuming it will be the Taketsuru 12 (blend) and the Yoichi 15. Hope I’m able to say a quick hello to you tonight John.

    • John Hansell says:

      I’m not sure which Nikka whiskies will be there. I will find out soon enough.

    • Scott says:

      You are correct Chris. This was in a recent NY Times article about Japanese Whisky
      “…The company’s (Suntory) domination of the American market will be challenged later this year when its archrival, Nikka, sends in the Single Malt Yoichi 15-year-old and Taketsuru Pure Malt 12-year-old.”
      I sure hope we get some at WhiskyFest NY!

  3. Vince says:

    I have had the pleasure of tasting the new Stagg and Weller and I too felt both were fantastic! The Stagg is much sweeter than in past years IMO. It makes the bourbon more approachable. I dont see that bottle lasting long in my house.
    I also agree on the Four Roses Small Batch LR John, truly great bourbon!!

    I have both of the experimentals but havent tried either. Thanks for the warning on the 23 year old.

    I really like the EH Taylor Rye, more than it seems than you do.

    Enjoy San Francisco!! Wish I was there!

    • John Hansell says:

      Don’t get me wrong. I like it and gave it a nice rating. Just not as high as the Sazeracs. The main point I want to get across is that it is a different flavor profile than traditional rye whiskies on the market. I don’t want anyone to be surprised.

  4. tmckenzie says:

    I like that style of rye, that is one reason we make that style. I really want to get my hands on a bottle of EH Taylor, I just wish it was cheaper. But I am Scottish, I wish everything was cheaper.

  5. OudErnest says:

    John, Is Nikka making an appearance at Whiskeyfest NY?

  6. OudErnest says:

    Nevermind. I didn’t realize the list was up already. Then again I didn’t realize it was only three weeks out!

  7. politicalidiot says:

    I love Japanese whisky. It is about time we get some distribution in the US. I am sick of having to buy it from TWE in London.

  8. tanstaafl2 says:

    Any chance we will see your thoughts on the other barrels of EC20 that you have had an opportunity to try in the event we are not able to find No. 13 in our market? It sounds one I would like to try but at the current price it would be nice to know if there are a few other barrels worth looking out for. Or ones to avoid!

  9. mongo says:

    i certainly have a talent for coercing traveling friends to purchase malts for me from japan just months before they become available in the u.s. last year it was the hakushu 12; now the yoichi 15. i wonder how competitively the yoichi 15 will be priced here. at narita duty-free this summer it was $72 .

  10. [...] the second half of my post that began on October 5th (with a WhiskyFest summary in [...]

  11. George Carter says:

    Although I am kind of new to the idea of sipping whiskey and I don’t yet have the skill of describing all the different flavors I know that I don’t care for a lot of oak in my whiskey. Yesterday I opened a bottle of EC20
    barrel #30 with a good friend and we were both thrilled. And I was pleased to find that the oak was almost nonexistant.

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