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Old Forester 117 Series: Extra Extra Old, Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 year old, & More [New Releases]

Old Forester 117 Series: Extra Extra Old, Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 year old, & More [New Releases]

December 16, 2022 –––––– Julia Higgins, Ted Simmons, Jonny McCormick, ,

Looking for a gift for the whisky lover in your life this holiday season? We've got you covered with these 14 recommendations, ranging from specialty bottles to sweet treats, to unforgettable whisky and cigar experiences. Check out our 12 Whiskies of Christmas for more selections to gift or share this holiday season. And of course, our annual Top 20 list is a great resource if you are looking to gift a bottle, with this year's selections ranging in price from $30 to $275, and covering a range of styles.

New releases this week represent a wide range of styles as well. Old Forester adds to its 117 series with Extra Extra Old; Orphan Barrel releases the final installment in its Muckety-Muck range, a 26 year old single grain whisky; Booker's announces the fourth batch of this year's bourbon; and Mortlach and Talisker each have new aged expressions. Read on for full details.

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Old Forester 117 Series: Extra Extra Old

Style: Finished bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
ABV: 46.5%
Price: $60
Release: December 2022
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This bourbon starts off as Old Forester’s 1910 whiskey—an homage to a historic bottling called Old Fine Whisky that’s fully matured, then re-barreled into new lightly toasted, then heavily charred barrels. Here, Old Forester takes it yet another step further, by aging that whiskey in its secondary barrel for two full years.

Whisky Advocate says:

Extra Extra Old is the latest expression within Old Forester’s 117 Series, the brainchild of former master taster Jackie Zykan. The series has previously featured such releases as Whiskey Row Fire (in honor of the Whiskey Row fire that tore through the historic block in 2015) and High Angels’ Share (from a selection of barrels that lost exceptional volume during the aging process). This new whiskey is one of the first that the distillery’s new master taster, Melissa Rift, had the opportunity to taste.

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Orphan Barrel Muckety-Muck 26 year old

Style: Single grain
Origin: Scotland
Age: 26 year old
ABV: 46%
Price: $300
Release: December 2022
Availability: Limited; nationwide

Need to know:

The third and final release in Orphan Barrel’s Muckety-Muck series, this 26 year old single grain whisky comes from ghost distillery Port Dundas which closed its doors in 2010. It follows Orphan Barrel’s previously released 24 year old and 25 year old Port Dundas single grain whiskies under the Muckety-Muck label.

Whisky Advocate says:

Orphan Barrel was launched by Diageo in 2014 as a series of rare whiskies—from barrels found in “forgotten” corners of warehouses or from distilleries that are long closed. In addition to the Muckety-Muck series, we’ve seen Port Dundas appear in a bottling of Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare, another Diageo release celebrating hard-to-find whiskies that sometimes feature liquid from shuttered distilleries. Single grain expressions can sometimes go unappreciated, and Port Dundas releases offer a bit of history in the bargain.

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Booker’s 2022-04 “Pinkie’s Batch”

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 6 year old
ABV: 61.2%
Price: $90
Release: December 2022
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

The fourth and final Booker’s release of 2022, Pinkie’s Batch is an homage to Booker Noe’s father, the original Frederick Booker Noe, who went by Pinkie among family and friends. While Pinkie wasn’t involved in the bourbon business and instead worked as the vice president of a local bank, he was a big bourbon fan and passed along that love to his son.

Whisky Advocate says:

As with all batches of Booker’s, the whiskey was selected by seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe. It aged for 6 years, 10 months, and 10 days, and was bottled at barrel strength. Among the other Booker’s releases this year were “Kentucky Tea Batch,” “The Lumberyard Batch,” and “Ronnie’s Batch.”

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Mortlach Midnight Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 30 year old
ABV: 49.1%
Price: $5,000
Release: December 2022
Availability: Limited; 350 bottles globally

Need to know:

This single malt was distilled in six stills for a precise 2.81 times, in a process used exclusively by Mortlach. While it initially aged in American and European oak casks, it was then split into Bordeaux, calvados, and Guatemalan rum casks for its final maturation, before being married in custom quarter casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Beyond its core 12, 16 and 20 year old releases, Mortlach is renowned for its ultra-aged releases. While not the oldest release in its stable, this one scored 90 points and is being billed as the “boldest”. If there’s a single malt connoisseur in your life, this would make a particularly generous gift, though the price is a bit out of reach for most of us. Find out more about this and other 30 year old single malt scotches in our feature entitled "Talk Thirty To Me" in the Fall 2022 issue.

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Talisker 44 year old: Forests of the Deep

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Isle of Skye)
Age: 44 year old
ABV: 49.1%
Price: $4,500
Release: December 2022
Availability: Limited; 1,997 bottles globally, 102 for the U.S.

Need to know:

This is the oldest Talisker release to date. It was inspired by an expedition to one of the world’s largest sea kelp forests near the Cape of Good Hope, which was led by Talisker’s ocean conservation partner, Parley for the Oceans. On board the expedition ship were Talisker cask staves, which were later charred using Scottish sea kelp and stave wood shavings. The whisky was ultimately finished in these maritime-influenced oak casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

More than anything, this whisky is an ode to Talisker’s commitment to marine conservation; together with Parley, the brand is looking to support the protection and preservation of 100 million square meters of marine ecosystems around the world by next year. While the bottle proceeds are not a direct Parley giveback, they are the product of a long-term collaboration between the two entities (and the expedition itself was funded by Talisker).

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Waterford Heritage Hunter

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
ABV: 50%
Price: $130
Release: December 2022
Availability: Global release of 10,000 bottles; 1,000 for the U.S.

Need to know:

Waterford Distillery is releasing its first heritage whiskey in an attempt to resurrect the flavors of the past by using a bygone barley variety that was first introduced more than 60 years ago.

Whisky Advocate says:

This is the latest release in Waterford’s Arcadian Farm Origins series, which began with its organic and biodynamic whiskeys. The terroir-driven distiller chose Hunter barley as it was admired for its distinctive flavors, although it had fallen out of agricultural practice in the late 1970s when it was superseded by modern varieties with better yields, disease resistance, and climate tolerance. The project has required a colossal effort of more than 8 years to bring this release to market, starting with a tiny 50-gram packet of heritage seeds from the vaults of the Irish seed bank at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. The single malt was distilled in February 2019 and matured in first-fill bourbon, new American oak, French oak, and sweet Vin Doux Naturel casks: the same cask types as the recent Waterford Peated editions. For future releases, Waterford is now working with even older heritage varieties in the search for more lost barley flavors.

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Dingle Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
ABV: 46.3%
Price: $100
Release: December 2022
Availability: Reservebar.com and in 15 states

Need to know:

Dingle Distillery is introducing its first core expression in the U.S. after several years of its small batch release program. The distillery in Co. Kerry on Ireland's west coast has created a triple distilled single malt composed of 6–7 year old whiskeys; 61% is matured in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks and the remaining 39% in bourbon barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Dingle Distillery was established in 2012, and produces gin, vodka, single malt, and single pot still whiskeys. More than six years after its first release, the distillery team has explored the maturation of its spirit in more than 20 different cask types including bourbon, oloroso, Pedro Ximénez, madeira, and tawny port casks. Dingle’s master distiller Graham Coull decided to use only first-fill casks for this core product. This is a popular approach when releasing non-age statement whiskeys because first-fill casks can deliver color and flavor more quickly than refill casks.

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Hard Truth Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash (RW-3)

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated
ABV: 54.8%
Price: $90
Release: November 2022
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Made with chocolate malt—malted barley roasted to a dark color that is chocolaty in flavor—this is a blend of eight barrels. A total of 1,800 bottles are available across Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.

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Hard Truth Caramel Malt Sweet Mash (RW-4)

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated
ABV: 58.7%
Price: $90
Release: November 2022
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This rye is made from caramel malt, which is roasted half as long as chocolate malt and has flavors more akin to caramel corn. As with the Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash rye, this is a blend of eight barrels, and 1,800 bottles are available in the same nine states.

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Hard Truth Malted Rye Sweet Mash (RW-6)

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: Not stated
ABV: 56.1%
Price: $90
Release: November 2022
Availability: Limited

Need to know:

A 100% rye whiskey, this expression blends 10 barrels; like the previous two, 1,800 bottles are available in nine states.

Whisky Advocate says:

Together, these three ryes make up Hard Truth’s new Master Distiller’s Reserve Collection. They’re all bottled at barrel strength, and moving forward, they’ll be available on an annual basis, always coinciding with the holiday season.

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Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Batch 028: Cacao Infused

Style: Liqueur
Origin: Tennessee
Age: Not stated
ABV: 43%
Price: $55
Release: December 9, 2022
Availability: 930 bottles; distillery only and seelbachs.com

Need to know:

The latest release in Chattanooga’s Experimental series isn’t actually a whiskey—it’s a high-malt liqueur inspired by the wintertime flavors of Mexican hot chocolate. It’s made from a mash of different roasted malts consisting of yellow corn, white wheat malt, munich malt, kiln coffee malt, and black pearl malt. The distillate is aged for 4 years and 9 months, and Chattanooga then infused the whiskey with a blend of roasted cacao nibs from Peru and Tanzania, vanilla beans, cassia cinnamon sticks, and cane sugar.

Whisky Advocate says:

While a whisky liqueur obviously is not the same thing as a whisky, there are often similarities that can make it difficult to tell them apart. Everything has its time and place, and as you gather with family this holiday season, some of whom may not be whisky drinkers, you can turn to a liqueur like this or these five. Serve them over ice, in a cocktail, or neat.

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Broken Top Small Batch

Style: Blend of straight bourbons
Origin: Indiana and Oregon
Age: Not stated
ABV: 50%
Price: $70
Release: December 2022
Availability: Oregon only; 1,184 bottles

Need to know:

This is a blend of two straight bourbons, one from MGP (75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley aged for 6 years in #4 char barrels) and one from a local Oregon distillery (65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley aged for 4 years in heavy char barrels from Toneleria J.L. Rodriguez, a cooperage in southern Spain where the staves have been seasoned for two years).

Whisky Advocate says:

Small Batch joins a Broken Top range that includes a straight bourbon, a straight rye, and a 113-proof straight bourbon. We previously scored a Broken Top bourbon 86 points in the Fall 2019 issue.

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