Bernheim Barrel Proof, Bowmore Masters' Selection 22 Year Old, & More [New Releases]
February 10, 2023 –––––– Julia Higgins
Earlier this week, Woodford Reserve announced a changing of the guard: Elizabeth McCall is now master distiller, while Chris Morris has moved into a master distiller emeritus role. Morris has mentored McCall since she joined Woodford in 2015, and in recent years her influence at the distillery has grown, as she's taken the lead on series like the Master's Collection and guided the distillery toward more in-depth grain research. She's only the third master distiller in Woodford's history, and she joins a growing rank of women at the helm of whisky's biggest names.
In new whisky, there's plenty to celebrate this week. Heaven Hill has released a barrel proof version of its Bernheim wheat whiskey, previously a Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience exclusive; Bowmore has collaborated with luxury automaker Aston Martin on yet another whisky; and Woodford is back with the 18th edition of its Master's Collection. Read on for full details.
Bernheim Barrel Proof Style: Straight wheatOrigin: KentuckyAge: 7 year oldABV: 59.4%Price: $65Release: February 2023Availability: Limited
Need to know: This whiskey has a mashbill of 51% wheat, 37% corn, and 12% malted barley, which is Heaven Hill’s typical wheat whiskey recipe. Bernheim Original is bottled at 90 proof, whereas Barrel Proof clocks in at 118.8 proof (and that will vary from release to release). Previously, a barrel proof iteration of Bernheim has been available for tasting at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown—this marks the national release of such a whiskey, though its mashbill is slightly different, and it will be on allocation and released just twice a year.
Whisky Advocate says: Bernheim Original is among the most recognizable wheat whiskeys around, named for Heaven Hill’s Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. The whiskey debuted in 2006, after Parker Beam decided to make use of some leftover red winter wheat for a new whiskey. At the time, it was the first wheater to make use of that varietal in its mashbill, and Heaven Hill’s first new whiskey since Prohibition as well. While the original whiskey came out with no age stated, a 7 year age statement was added in 2014.
Bowmore Masters’ Selection 22 year oldStyle: Single maltOrigin: Scotland (Islay)Age: 22 year oldABV: 51.5%Price: $450Release: January 2023Availability: Limited; 12,000 bottles globally
Need to know:Bowmore is back with its latest collaboration with English automaker Aston Martin. Masters’ Selection 22 year old celebrates the synergy between the two brands by marrying whiskies that have been aged in two types of casks—American oak hogsheads and sherry butts—and from two distillation years—1997 and 2000. This is the second edition in the Masters’ Selection Series, following a 21 year old single malt released in November 2021.
Whisky Advocate says:Sometimes brand partnerships stick, as seems to be the case with Bowmore and Aston Martin. The collaboration is now entering its third year since its inception in 2020, and the releases have generally fallen into into one of two categories: extreme luxury and more attainable fare. In November 2020, the two partners collaborated on Black Bowmore 1964 DB5 31 year old, a $65,000 whisky packaged in a custom bottle with a piston base. Then, the first Masters’ Selection release in 2021. which was priced at $400, followed by the ultra-rare Bowmore ARC-52 in November 2022. The 52 year old whisky marked the launch of the ARC series between the two brands, with only 100 decanters, priced at $75,000 a piece, sold worldwide. Earlier this month Whisky Auctioneer sold decanter No. 10 for a hammer price of $102,660.
Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Historic Barrel Entry (2022 Release)Style: Straight bourbonOrigin: KentuckyAge: Not statedABV: 45.2%Price: $130/700 mlRelease: February 2023Availability: Limited
Need to know: The latest Master’s Collection release is a call back to pre-Prohibition whiskey making, as it was put into barrel at 100 proof—this is generally how bourbon was made prior to Prohibition, with entry proof varying from 100-103. The current maximum entry proof, set in 1962, is 125 or 62.5% ABV.
According to Woodford, while a lower entry proof may seem counterintuitive to extracting the most flavor from a barrel, it instead has the opposite effect, resulting in richer, sweet qualities that come directly from the barrel’s “red layer”—the caramelized layer created by the charring process.
Whisky Advocate says: Master distiller emeritus Chris Morris introduced the Woodford Master’s Collection in 2004, as a means of exploring different elements of flavor creation like fermentation and, in this case, maturation. Since 2020, newly minted master distiller Elizabeth McCall has been the driving force behind Master’s Collection, though Morris is still involved in the final product. The new whiskey is available at the distillery, as well as throughout the U.S., though it’s certainly limited in scope.
Garrison Brothers Guadalupe (2023 Release)Style: Finished bourbonOrigin: TexasAge: 6 year oldABV: 53.5%Price: $150Release: February 2023Availability: 16,098 bottles
Need to know: Guadalupe is a Texas straight bourbon that’s aged 4 years and then finished in tawny port casks for an additional 2 years. The whiskey’s name comes from the Guadalupe River, which runs from Kerr County, Texas to San Antonio Bay.
Whisky Advocate says: Master distiller Donnis Todd was inspired to create Guadalupe following a partnership with Texan winery Llano Estacado in 2015, wherein he used decades-old port casks from the winery to finish a 4 year old straight bourbon, resulting in the 2019 limited-edition Estacado.
He then turned to Portugal for new port casks, coming out with the first iteration of Guadalupe in 2021. Of the 16,098 bottles released this year, 1,002 were sold at an event held at the distillery in Hye, Texas on February 4th.
Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Style: Straight ryeOrigin: VirginiaAge: 4 year oldABV: 50% ABVPrice: $99Release: February 2023Availability: Limited
Need to know: Made by Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., Rabble Rouser is an annual release that’s distilled from 100% rye and bottled in bond—produced in a single distillation season by a single distillery, matured in a U.S. warehouse for a minimum of 4 years, and bottled at 50% abv. This is the final Rabble Rouser release that matured in 30-gallon barrels; moving forward, the whiskey will be aged in 53-gallon barrels.
Whisky Advocate says: This Rabble Rouser release comes on Catoctin Creek’s 14th year of operation. The Purcellville, Virginia distillery opened in 2009 and focuses primarily on rye, offering various proofs and cask finishes of Roundstone (a single barrel whiskey), Ragnarök (a collaboration with shock rock band GWAR), Braddock Oak, and Rabble Rouser. While Catoctin Creek started as a microdistillery and remains quite small, Constellation Brands purchased a minority stake in 2017, enabling husband and wife co-owners Scott and Becky Harris—Scott is general manager while Becky is president and chief distiller—to double production, add new equipment, build a new warehouse, and expand its national presence.
Tattersall InterstateStyle: American single maltOrigin: MinnesotaAge: Not statedABV: 45%Price: $45Release: February 2023Availability: 2,400 bottles for Minnesota and Wisconsin
Need to know:Tattersall Distilling has a new American single malt paying homage to Interstate Park, which occupies territory in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Tattersall likewise has facilities in both states with distilling and events centers in Minneapolis and River Falls, Wisconsin, the two locations less than 40 miles apart. In fact, while this whiskey was entirely distilled in Minnesota, all of the grains were sourced from Wisconsin, and aging took place in both states. Tattersall patiently waited for official recognition of the proposed American Single Malt guidelines before releasing this to ensure that it would qualify despite that split maturation. The whiskey was aged for 4 years in virgin oak barrels, with the 100% malted barley mashbill including Wisconsin cherrywood-smoked and dark-roasted malts.
Whisky Advocate says:While Tattersall is calling this its first American single malt, it released a single malt whiskey in 2020, a collaboration with chef Justin Sutherland that scored 91 points. Tattersall specifies that while it has been making single malt for some time, Interstate is its first release since the style has been officially outlined and recognized. It is worth noting Tattersall’s patience in releasing Interstate until these guidelines were formally recognized, particularly as it pertains to the split maturation between two states.
Old Line Double Oak Series Sherry Cask FinishStyle: American single maltOrigin: MarylandAge: Not statedABV: 50%Price: $65Release: February 2023Availability: 700 bottles for Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C.
Need to know:Baltimore’s Old Line Spirits is bringing back its limited-edition sherry cask-finished single malt. The whiskey is aged for 5 years in new American white oak and finished for an additional year in oloroso sherry casks. It is usually released each February.
Whisky Advocate says:One of the great things about American single malt is that while you may know the major players like Westland, Westward, Stranahan’s, and Balcones, craft distillers all over the country are producing the style, using different production methods and philosophies to achieve a wide range of flavors. The proposed outline for American single malt doesn’t require new oak, though Old Line uses it here, along with a finishing cask, which adds another layer of differentiation to the whiskey. What’s more, Old Line stands out as an American single malt producer within its distilling community, with rye the more popular style among Baltimore’s whiskey-makers. We scored a previous version of Double Oak Sherry Cask Finish at 90 points and with a limited number of bottles available, we’d expect this to sell out.
Sexy Motor OilStyle: Finished bourbonOrigin: MultipleAge: Not statedABV: 54.75%Price: $200Release: February 10, 2023Availability: Distillery only; less than 500 bottles
Need to know:Breckenridge Distillery has announced the third edition of its Sexy Motor Oil whiskey, to be released Friday, February 10th at 11 a.m. MST, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The whiskey starts with Breckenridge Distillery bringing freshly dumped bourbon barrels to Breckenridge Brewery, where they are filled with an imperial stout beer. Once the beer is dumped, the barrels are returned to Breckenridge Distillery, where they are filled with 3 to 8 year old whiskey for a 10 to 13-month finish. This whiskey will be the fifth beer-barrel finished release from Breckenridge Distillery, which previously collaborated with Breckenridge Brewery on Buddy Pass, an imperial stout cask-finished whiskey that was released for the second time in October 2022. The brewery released a whiskey barrel-aged oatmeal stout beer by the same name. Both Buddy Pass products are available nationwide.
Whisky Advocate:It’s common practice for craft distillers and brewers to exchange barrels, resulting in new products for each. Colorado has a vibrant craft beer scene, and these exchanges happen frequently. In August of last year, we reported on The Osopher, a new beer and whiskey collaboration from Denver’s Stranahan’s and Flying Dog Brewery, which was originally founded in Aspen but is now located in Maryland. Breckenridge also holds the title of the world’s highest distillery, situated at 9,600 feet above sea level. That altitude has an effect on the whiskey, as pressure fronts moving through the region promote barrel interaction. Anyone interested in snagging a bottle of Sexy Motor Oil whiskey should make their way to the distillery this weekend.
Proper No. Twelve Irish AppleStyle: FlavoredOrigin: IrelandAge: Not statedABV: 35%Price: $25Release: February 2023Availability: Nationwide
Need to know:Proper No. Twelve is adding an apple-flavored whiskey available in 50ml, 750ml, and 1-liter bottles. It is the first line extension since the brand launched in 2018. For every case of Proper No. Twelve or Proper Irish Apple sold, five dollars will be donated, up to $1 million annually, to global first responder organizations. To date, the brand has contributed $1.9 million to this cause.
Whisky Advocate says:Since its introduction, Proper No. Twelve has made quite an impact. Backed by MMA fighter Conor McGregor, the Irish whiskey brand outsold fellow Proximo Spirits-owned Bushmills in 2021, according to Impact Databank. Flavors have been a huge boost for whiskey in recent years, with brands like Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, and Crown Royal capitalizing on the trend.
The DeaconStyle: Blended scotchOrigin: Scotland Age: Not statedABV: 40%Price: $40Release: February 2023Availability: Limited release
Need to know:Sovereign Brands’ debut whisky is a blended scotch led by peaty Islay and smoky Speyside single malts.
Whisky Advocate says:The Deacon is the latest venture for Sovereign Brands, the innovative wine and spirits company behind a host of new drinks brands. This first whisky in its portfolio was made in collaboration with Pernod Ricard, which owns a minority stake in the company. This non-age statement whisky’s four–sided copper bottle has a monochrome label of a masked plague doctor, and its unusual name comes from an old Scots word meaning the chief official of a trade or craft.
Chivas Brothers, the scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard, operates 11 distilleries in Speyside, though none on Islay. As a major blending house, Chivas Brothers trades casks with other scotch whisky producers, which helps them acquire the stocks of Islay whisky needed for their blends. Islay doesn’t have a monopoly on smoky single malts, however, as Chivas Brothers also produces peated cask whiskies and its own peated whisky from its distilleries in Speyside and Orkney.