WhistlePig 18, Michter’s Toasted Barrel Sour Mash Whiskey & More New Releases

A few weeks ago, Compass Box announced that they’d overhauled the recipe for The Peat Monster, making a significant change after more than 15 years of production. I spoke with blender John Glaser about why he decided to mess with a winning formula, and how the new whisky fits into the current peat craze.

Speaking of changes, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently proposed making barrels of “approximately 50 gallons” the regulated size for aging bourbon. This could have a major impact on many American distillers, so we spoke to people on both sides of the issue to find out what they think.

On to new whiskies. MGP Distillery is starting up a private-barrel program for retail stores, allowing them to create a custom version of its Rossville Union rye whiskey. Retailers can meet with MGP’s distilling and blending teams to taste from different barrels and put together a unique blend, to be bottled at 50% ABV.

WhistlePig is launching its oldest whisky to date, an 18 year old rye distilled at Hiram Walker in Canada. There are 10,000 bottles available in this year’s release, priced at $400 each.

Michter’s has unveiled a new whiskey finished in a toasted barrel. Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash is priced at $60, and available in limited amounts.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is releasing a commemorative version of Elmer T. Lee bourbon, celebrating its namesake’s 100th birthday. The single-barrel bourbon is available in very limited amounts, priced at (of course) $100.

Meanwhile, Writers’ Tears is rolling out the 2019 edition of its Cask Strength Irish whiskey. Priced at $100, there are 1,200 bottles available in the U.S.

Finally, two significant releases are hitting shelves outside the U.S. Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Finish (£55) is for sale in limited amounts in the UK, while 330 bottles of The John Walker Last Cask (CYN 21,835) is available in China and at global travel retail.

Read on for full details.

WhistlePig 18 year old Double Malt Rye (2019 Release)

Style: Rye
Origin: Canada
Age: 18 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $400
Release: August 2019
Availability: 10,000 bottles in 2019

Need to know:

Made at Canada’s Hiram Walker Distillery, this is the oldest WhistlePig release to date. It showcases a different side of rye, featuring a mashbill that includes malted rye: 6% malted barley, 15% malted rye, and 79% rye. It’s packaged with a custom glass stopper made by Burlington’s AO Glass.

Whisky Advocate says:

Although WhistlePig’s master distiller, Dave Pickerell, passed away last year, this whisky was in the works before his death. It was ultimately put together by Pete Lynch, who serves as master blender for the brand. Although a limited edition with 10,000 bottles available this year, there will be additional releases of this whisky in the future.

Michter's US*1 Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash Whiskey

Style: Whiskey
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $60
Release: August 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Michter’s has finished its mature Sour Mash American whiskey in toasted barrels. Although this release is similar to Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish bourbon and rye, the distillery employed a different toast profile with milder flavors.

Whisky Advocate says:

Michter’s Sour Mash whiskey is made with a mashbill that doesn’t qualify it to be a bourbon or rye, but is aged in new charred oak barrels just like those styles. The extra flavors added through the toasted finish are meant to complement those imparted by the charred barrels. Not sure how it all works? Our article about toasting versus charring will explain.

Elmer T. Lee 100 Year Tribute Single Barrel Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $100
Release: August 2019
Availability: Very limited

Need to know:

Don’t get excited—this isn’t a 100 year old bourbon. It’s a bourbon, made with the Elmer T. Lee mashbill, that honors former master distiller Elmer T. Lee on what would have been his 100th birthday. It is, however, 100 proof and costs $100, and is a limited, one-time only release of an unspecified number of single barrels. All proceeds from the whiskey’s sale benefit the Frankfort, Kentucky VFW Post 4075, where Lee was a member until his death in 2013.

Whisky Advocate says:

Elmer T. Lee was serving as master distiller at Buffalo Trace (then known as George T. Stagg) Distillery in 1984 when he created the first single-barrel bourbon, Blanton’s. Although bourbon was at a low point in the 1980s, Lee’s accomplishments made him one of the first distiller rock stars—even though he was a pretty humble guy.

Writers' Tears Cask Strength (2019 Release)

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53% ABV
Price: $100
Release: July 2019
Availability: 1,200 bottles for the U.S. out of 3,780 worldwide

Need to know:

Bottled at 53% ABV, Writers’ Tears Cask Strength is an amped-up version of the core blend, which is made up of Irish single malt and single pot still whiskeys.

Whisky Advocate says:

Cask-strength Irish whiskey isn’t terribly common. Redbreast has a 12 year old at cask strength, and Jameson has an 18 year old, while West Cork offers its Barrel Proof. This offering from Writers’ Tears—whose 2018 cask-strength release scored 92 points—is especially noteworthy as the blend is single malt-single pot still.

Glen Moray Rhum Agricole Cask Finish Project

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46.3% ABV
Price: £55 (about $67)
Release: August 2019
Availability: 3,060 bottles for sale in the UK only

Need to know:

A UK-only release, this Glen Moray was finished for two years in rhum agricole casks from St. James AOC rhum in Martinique.

Whisky Advocate says:

Glen Moray launched its Cask Finish Project last year with a cider cask-finished single malt that led to censure from the Scotch Whisky Association for its use of non-traditional casks. (While rules about what cask types are allowed in scotch production were recently updated, cider casks are still not allowed.) Rhum agricole casks are certainly unusual, but shouldn’t be problematic, as cask-matured rum is a longstanding practice in Martinique and elsewhere. If you want to get your hands on a bottle of this whisky, you’ll have to head to The Whisky Exchange, where it’s available now, or the UK, where it hits retail shelves in September.

The John Walker Last Cask

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: CNY 21,835 (about $3,099)
Release: August 2019
Availability: 330 bottles; not for sale in the U.S.

Need to know:

This whisky is comprised of six single malts (Glen Albyn, Cardhu, Mortlach, Clynelish, Dailuaine, and Talisker) and three single grains (Cambus, Port Dundas, and Cameronbridge), which were blended and then married in a cask made from 100 year old oak staves. Master blender Jim Beveridge has determined that this cask is no longer useable and will be retired—meaning that this is the last release in The John Walker range.

Whisky Advocate says:

The John Walker blend (94 points) debuted over ten years ago to showcase whiskies that were in existence during John Walker’s lifetime in the early to mid-1800s. Each blend was married in a cask made of 100 year old staves, which was apparently so essential to the blend’s creation that its decommissioning has led Diageo to wrap up the series. This final whisky will not be for sale in the U.S., but is available in China and at travel retail.

More From Whisky Weekend