Woodford Reserve Batch Proof, Tullamore D.E.W. Rum Cask & More New Whisky

The biggest new release of the week is Johnnie Walker’s female-focused The Jane Walker Edition, a special package for Black Label. I had some thoughts about how Diageo missed the mark with this one—and a suggestion for what they could have done to promote women’s representation in whisky instead.

Apart from this limited-edition bottling, there are many other new whiskies to try. Woodford Reserve is releasing a new annual special edition: Woodford Reserve Batch Proof. The whiskey is a higher-strength version of its core bourbon. It will be available in limited quantities for $130, and the proof will change from year to year. The 2018 release clocks in at 62.9% ABV.

Tullamore D.E.W. has unveiled the latest addition to its range of Irish whiskeys, finished in a cask that was seasoned with demerara rum from Guyana. The blended whiskey will sell for under $30 and be widely available just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Luxco—whose Lux Row Distillers recently opened in Bardstown, Kentucky—is rolling out the 2018 batch of Rebel Yell Single Barrel. The 2017 edition of this 10 year old bourbon was one of our Top 20 whiskies of 2017, coming in at number 12 and favored for its great price ($60), wide availability (12,000 bottles this year), and superb flavors.

Irish single malt Tyrconnell—whose 16 year old whiskey was also ranked in the Top 20 at number 16—has announced a 15 year old finished in madeira casks. While this whiskey is a limited edition, priced at $100, the existing Tyrconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish remains a part of the core lineup.

Stillhouse Spirits Co., best known for its range of flavored whiskeys and stainless steel can packaging, is launching its first bourbon. The whiskey has an unusual twist: it’s finished on coffee beans. While available in limited quantities, it will be a core part of Stillhouse’s lineup.

Finally, whiskies from Wayne Gretzky’s Canadian distillery are making their U.S. debut. Wayne Gretzky No. 99 (named for the hockey legend’s jersey number, which is the only number to have been retired league-wide in the NHL) currently offers three blended whiskies: Red Cask, finished in red wine barrels from Gretzky Estates Winery; Ice Cask, finished in the winery’s icewine barrels; and Ninety-Nine Proof, which is, as you might have guessed, 99 proof (44.5% ABV) and was finished in cabernet sauvignon barrels. While Gretzky Estates Distillery is making its own whisky, that liquid is currently aging, so these products are all sourced from an unnamed Canadian distillery, and aged, finished, and blended at Gretzky Estates by master distiller Joshua Beach. The whiskies are currently sold in Illinois and Missouri, but will be expanding to other states soon. If you’re headed to WhiskyFest Chicago on March 23rd, you’ll have the chance to taste all three whiskies and to attend a seminar hosted by Beach. Read on for full details.

Johnnie Walker The Jane Walker Edition Black Label

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Scotland
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $34
Release: March 2018
Availability: 250,000 bottles in the U.S. only

Need to know:

Johnnie Walker is releasing a limited-edition bottle of Black Label coinciding with Women’s History Month in March. The bottle features “Jane Walker,” a female version of the famous “striding man” figure, but other than the packaging, and the fact that $1 from every bottle sold will be donated to non-profits that support women’s causes, the whisky is same old Black Label.

Whisky Advocate says:

Though well intended, this initiative to promote women’s equality in whisky misses the mark by creating a fictional character to put on a label. Here’s what Diageo should have done instead.

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Batch Proof 2018

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 62.9% ABV
Price: $130
Release: March 2018
Availability: Limited quantities

Need to know:

Woodford Reserve is taking its regular bourbon and upping the bottling strength from 90.4 proof to between 121 and 126 proof. This year’s bottling comes in at 125.8 proof. The whiskey will be available annually in allocated quantities in select U.S. and international markets.

Whisky Advocate says:

Woodford’s limited-edition Master’s Collection series highlights the differences that result from altering one of its five sources of flavor: water, grain, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Batch Proof—which is part of the Master’s Collection, but separate from its annual fall release—offers a variant on maturation by bottling standard Woodford Reserve at barrel strength. High-proof whiskey can be great fun to experiment with, allowing you to add water slowly to determine your ideal proof. (If you want to be extra precise, use our proof calculator.)

Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

Style: Blended whiskey
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $26-$29
Release: February 2018
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Tullamore D.E.W.’s newest whiskey is a blend finished in demerara rum casks. The rum is shipped from Guyana to the distillery, where it is used to season casks for 3 months. The freshly emptied casks are filled with Tullamore D.E.W.’s core blend for a 3-month finishing period.

Whisky Advocate says:

Savvy whisky drinkers may know that Tullamore D.E.W. is owned by William Grant & Sons, the same company that owns Balvenie Distillery in Scotland. Balvenie also has a Caribbean rum cask finish for its 14 year old single malt, although the rum used for Tullamore D.E.W. comes from a different source. Master blender Brian Kinsman oversees all of Tullamore D.E.W.’s blending and was responsible for creating this expression.

Rebel Yell 10 year old Single Barrel 2018 Release

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $60
Release: February 2018
Availability: 12,000 bottles

Need to know:

This year’s release of Rebel Yell 10 year old, a single barrel bourbon, is rolling out now, limited to 24,000 bottles. It is available in most states and at Lux Row Distillers, the new home of Rebel Yell, which began distilling in January 2018.

Whisky Advocate says:

The 2017 release of Rebel Yell 10 year old was ranked number 12 on Whisky Advocate’s 2017 Top 20 Whiskies of the Year. We loved this bourbon for its sweet, mouth-coating flavors, price, and availability. Although it’s a single barrel whiskey, which means there’s some variance from bottle to bottle, it has a consistent profile and quality level, so you can be sure of getting an excellent pour no matter the barrel number.

Tyrconnell 15 year old Madeira Cask Finish

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: 15 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $100
Release: February 2018
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This is a single malt whiskey, aged for 15 years in bourbon barrels and finished for three months in madeira wine casks. Like all Tyrconnell whiskeys, it is double-distilled.

Whisky Advocate says:

Tyrconnell offers a madeira cask-finished whiskey already, along with port and sherry cask variants, but these are all 10 years old. If its pedigree is any indication, you can expect this to be an excellent bottle: Tyrconnell 16 year old was number 16 in the 2017 Top 20.

Stillhouse Black Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: Not stated
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $30 (750-ml.); $20 (375-ml.)
Release: March 2018
Availability: Limited quantities

Need to know:

Stillhouse Spirits Co., best known for its flavored whiskeys that come in fuel can-style packaging, is releasing its first bourbon. The bourbon—distilled at an unnamed distillery—is finished by Stillhouse on roasted coffee beans. It’s available for pre-order on reservebar.com starting this month, and will be hitting store shelves across the country by summertime. While available in limited quantities, it is a permanent part of the Stillhouse range.

Whisky Advocate says:

Although bourbon-flavored coffee abounds, bourbon finished with coffee beans is a new one to us. Stillhouse won’t say where its bourbon is distilled, how long it ages in new charred oak before finishing, or how long the finishing period is.

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Canada
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $35
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: IL and MO, with expansion planned

Need to know:

This blended Canadian whisky is made from corn, rye, and malted rye, aged for at least 3 years in once-used Kentucky bourbon barrels, and finished in a red wine cask from Gretzky Estates Winery. It scored 87 points in our Buying Guide.

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ice Cask

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Canada
Age: Not stated
Proof: 41.5% ABV
Price: $50
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: IL and MO, with expansion planned

Need to know:

Made from corn, rye, and malted rye, this blended whisky is aged at least three years in once-used bourbon barrels and finished for 100-plus days in vidal blanc icewine casks from Gretzky Estates Winery.

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ninety-Nine Proof

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Canada
Age: Not stated
Proof: 44.5% ABV
Price: $80
Release: Winter 2018
Availability: IL and MO, with expansion planned

Need to know:

This blended Canadian whisky is made from corn, rye, and malted rye. After aging at least 3 years in once-used bourbon barrels, it spends more than 100 days finishing in a cabernet sauvignon cask from Gretzky Estates Winery.

Whisky Advocate says:

Retired sports stars can do just about anything they want. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky decided to open a winery and distillery, whose first whisky releases are now available in the U.S. These bottlings are currently sourced from another distillery and finished at Gretzky Estates; however, master distiller Joshua Beach is making a variety of whiskies on a pot and a column still at the distillery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and aging them on-site, with plans to blend and bottle them once they come of age. Curious to try the whiskies for yourself? Joshua will be pouring them—and giving a seminar—at WhiskyFest Chicago on March 23rd.

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