Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey, Uncle Nearest 1884 & More New Whisky

The biggest new whisky news of the week was Diageo’s unveiling of its 2019 Special Releases. Well, sort of. The scotch mega-company revealed the names of this year’s whiskies, but nothing elseā€”and the pickings look a little slim.

We should get more information about those whiskies come fall, but for now, there are plenty of new releases with full details to anticipate. First up, Woodford Reserve is rounding out its core lineup with a wheat whiskey, priced at $35 and hitting shelves across the country now.

Tennessee whiskey brand Uncle Nearest has a new release, aged 7 years and priced at $50. Uncle Nearest 1884 is named for the year that Nearest Green likely stopped distilling.

The 2019 edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection from Heaven Hill Distillery will hit shelves in September, and for the first time ever, it’s a rye. Parker’s Heritage Collection Heavy Char rye was aged in level-5 charred oak barrels and matured for over 8 years. It’s available in limited amounts for $150.

Limestone Branch Distillery is rolling out its Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky straight bourbon. There are 12,500 bottles available, priced at $100 each.

Meanwhile, Royal Salute has debuted two new 21 year old scotches: the Malts Blend, a blended malt, and the Lost Blend, a blend that includes whiskies from closed distilleries. Both blends are $135, with the Malts Blend widely available and the Lost Blend for sale at travel retail.

A new American whiskey brand, Luca Mariano, is releasing a straight rye. Sourced from Kentucky, the whiskey costs $45 and is available in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan at the moment.

Laws Whiskey House in Denver is replacing its 4 year old bottled in bond bourbon with a 6 year old variation. The new whiskey is available in Colorado for $80.

Finally, a rare single-cask Amrut whisky is for sale through Norfolk Wine & Spirits in Massachusetts. Bottled from a single bourbon cask, there are just 120 bottles available, priced at $230.

Read on for full details.

Woodford Reserve Straight Wheat Whiskey

Style: Straight wheat
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45.2% ABV
Price: $35
Release: July 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

This straight wheat whiskey was distilled from a mashbill of 52% wheat, 20% malted barley, 20% corn, and 8% rye. A permanent part of the Woodford Reserve lineup, it is the distillery’s first wheat whiskey.

Whisky Advocate says:

With this launch, Woodford now produces four of the five main American straight whiskey styles: bourbon, rye, malt (which launched last year), and wheat. The only one missing is corn, a style Woodford is unlikely to add since it has to be either unaged or aged in used or non-charred barrels (although, never say never). Wheat whiskey isn’t easy to find; while there are some craft distillers producing it, the only mainstream wheat whiskey that’s widely available is Bernheim, made by Heaven Hill.

Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey

Style: Tennessee whiskey
Origin: Tennessee
Age: 7 years old
Proof: 46.5% ABV
Price: $50
Release: July 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Joining Uncle Nearest 1856, this whiskey, sourced from an undisclosed Tennesee distillery, will be released in batches. Each batch is “curated” by one of the descendants of Nathan “Nearest” Green, a former slave and the first African-American distiller, for whom the brand is named. The person’s name and signature will appear on the back label of each bottle; the first batch was created by Victoria Eady-Butler, Green’s great-great-granddaughter. The number 1884 refers to the final year Green is believed to have made whiskey before retiring from distilling.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Nearest Green brand is currently sourced from other distilleries, but founder and CEO Fawn Weaver is building a distillery complex in Shelbyville, Tennessee, that will open this fall. At the same time, Weaver is engaged in philanthropic and historic preservation activities through the Nearest Green Foundation. A slave until Emancipation and the end of the Civil War, Green was likely the one who taught Jack Daniel how to distill. His story is remarkable, and the whiskey named for him is pretty great too.

Parker's Heritage Collection Heavy Char Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 52.5% ABV
Price: $150
Release: September 2019
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The 13th release in Heaven Hill’s Parker’s Heritage Collection, this rye was matured in level-5 char oak barrels, rather than the more typical level 3. It matured for 8 years and 9 months on the seventh floor of Rickhouse Y.

Whisky Advocate says:

This is the first rye for Parker’s Heritage Collection, which is usually bourbon but has also included wheat and malt whiskeys in the past; the mashbill is the same as that used for Rittenhouse and Pikesville. The use of heavily charred barrels will lend strong oak and spice notes to the whiskey.

By the way, if you’re not sure how charring works, and what makes it so important for American whiskeys like bourbon and rye, we’ve got you covered.

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2019 Release)

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50.5% ABV
Price: $100
Release: August 2019
Availability: 12,500 bottles

Need to know:

This year’s release of Yellowstone’s special-edition bourbon is made with barrels picked by head distiller Steve Beam, and includes some 9 and 12 year old bourbon.

Whisky Advocate says:

We were big fans of last year’s limited-edition Yellowstone, scoring it 91 points. Look for a review of the newest release in an upcoming issue!

Royal Salute 21 year old The Malts Blend

Style: Blended malt
Origin: Scotland
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $135
Release: July 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Made with over 21 single malts from across Scotland’s five regions, this is the first addition to Royal Salute’s 21 year old range since its debut in 1953, and the first blended malt ever for the brand.

Royal Salute The Lost Blend

Style: Blended whisky
Origin: Scotland
Age: 21 years old
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $135
Release: June 2019
Availability: Travel retail only

Need to know:

The first permanently available peated whisky in the Royal Salute line, this 21 year old blend features whisky from Imperial Distillery, which was demolished in 2013, among other “lost” distilleries.

Whisky Advocate says:

While Royal Salute has released other 21 year old whiskies in the past, they have all been limited editions; both of these new blends are permanently available alongside the core 21 year old blend. Concurrent with their debut, the Royal Salute range is getting new, quite splendid packaging designed by Kristjana S. Williams.

Luca Mariano Small Batch Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 41.5% ABV
Price: $45
Release: Summer 2019
Availability: KY, MI, and TN, with expansion planned

Need to know:

This straight rye was distilled and aged for 4 years in Danville, Kentucky, and bottled by Luca Mariano, a company started by Francesco Viola.

Whisky Advocate says:

Viola aims to open his own distillery in Danville and recently purchased the William Crow house and other historic properties with plans to restore them. In the meantime, however, he’s contract-distilling custom bourbon and rye recipes. Luca Mariano Old Americana Small Batch Straight bourbon was released this past spring. The name “Luca Mariano” is a combination of Viola’s son’s name (Luca) and that of his grandfather, Mariano, in whose memory Viola began distilling and eventually started the company.

Laws 6 year old Four Grain Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Style: Bottled in bond bourbon
Origin: Colorado
Age: 6 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $80
Release: July 2019
Availability: Colorado only

Need to know:

Denver’s Laws Whiskey House is replacing its 4 year old bonded bourbon with a version aged 50% longer. The new whiskey otherwise does not differ from its younger counterpart, made with a mashbill of corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, all grown in Colorado, and matured in 53-gallon barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

When it was last reviewed in 2016, Laws’ bonded four grain bourbon scored 86 points. We’re curious to see how the whiskey tastes with two years of added maturation time. Stay tuned!

Amrut Norfolk Wine & Spirits Single Cask (Cask #662)

Style: Single malt
Origin: India
Age: 6 years old
Proof: 60% ABV
Price: $230
Release: Summer 2019
Availability: 120 bottles; for sale at Norfolk Wine & Spirits only

Need to know:

This unpeated single malt was distilled at Amrut Distillery in October 2012 and bottled in April 2019. It comes from a single bourbon cask, bottled exclusively for Norfolk Wine & Spirits in Massachusetts.

Whisky Advocate says:

Amrut releases very few single cask whiskies, but knowing the distillery’s reputation and past scores, this is sure to be a high-quality bottling.

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