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Kentucky Owl Wiseman Rye, Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke, & More [New Releases]

Kentucky Owl Wiseman Rye, Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke, & More [New Releases]

April 1, 2022 –––––– Julia Higgins, , , ,

It's a big weekend on the American whiskey auction scene, as Chicago-based Hart Davis Hart (HDH) has commenced live bidding on its Finest & Rarest Spirits sale, which started earlier this morning and ends tomorrow. Of the 2,800 lots available, 2,189 are American whiskeys. HDH expects the total value of the American lots to reach between $1.9 million and $3 million, which would bring the highest value yet for an American whiskey sale. See the big-ticket items here.

Of course, there are plenty of new whiskies to try—ones that are valued at quite a bit less than those! Kentucky Owl has added a new rye under The Wiseman label, Basil Hayden debuts a subtly smoky bourbon, and Compass Box introduces a new blended whisky that's evocative of old books. Read on for full details.

Kentucky Owl Wiseman Rye

Style: Straight rye

Origin: Kentucky

Age: Not stated

ABV: 50.4%

Price: $60

Release: March 2022

Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This whiskey is made with a mashbill of 95% rye.

Whisky Advocate says:

This release follows closely on the heels of Kentucky Owl's The Wiseman bourbon, which splashed onto the scene in September 2021. That whiskey, produced and distilled in collaboration with Bardstown Bourbon Co., earned the No.-17 spot on our 2021 Top 20 list, scoring 92 points. This is the third Kentucky Owl release from master blender John Rhea, who came to the brand after an illustrious career at Four Roses.

Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Kentucky

Age: Not stated

ABV: 40%

Price: $50

Release: April 2022

Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This whiskey is finished for six months in a toasted, lightly charred barrel that's been infused with hickory smoke.

Whisky Advocate says:

Unlike many other smoked whiskies, where the grains are smoked with peat, wood, or something else entirelyprior to distillation, Subtle Smoke gets its lightly charred flavor solely from a smoke-infused barrel. This whiskey follows last year's Basil Hayden Toast, which likewise emphasized a somewhat different barrel influence—in that case, a toasted barrel.

Compass Box Vellichor

Style: Blended whisky

Origin: Scotland

ABV: 44.6%

Age: Not stated

Price: $450

Release: April 2022

Availability: 3,246 bottles

Need to know:

Vellichor is a word that describes the feeling of nostalgia evoked by the scent of old books. This blend contains two parcels of Speyside blended scotch, each more than two decades old and partially aged in sherry casks. There is 23 year old Macallan; a Highland Park of an even greater though unspecified age; and a small amount of what is referred to as “very old whisky” from Caol Ila. Previous Compass Box releases The General (96 points) and The Circus (92 points) have included similar parcels of Speyside blends.

Whisky Advocate says:

When tasting whiskies, particularly the ultra-aged expressions, you can sometimes get notes of old books, dusty bookshelves, or vintage bookstores. In our Fall 2021 issue Tasting Lesson, we examined the science behind those aromas. Here, Compass Box calls upon whiskies of significant age to evoke those faded pages and worn spines.

Yellowstone Family Recipe

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Kentucky

Age: 6 year old

ABV: 50%

Price: $70

Release: April 2022

Availability: Limited

Need to know:

Inspired by a recipe found in notes from Guy Beam, grandfather of Limestone Branch Distillery master distiller Stephen Beam, this whiskey was distilled using cloned yeast from a yeast jug that belonged to Stephen's great-grandfather, Minor Case Beam. As with the original recipe, this whiskey carries a 6 year old age statement.

Whisky Advocate says:

This whiskey is truly a family affair, made in homage to 150 years of Beam- and Dant-family distilling (the Dant family built the Yellowstone Distillery and brand, among others, and Stephen Beam's mother is from the Dant family). Yellowstone Family Recipe will be first available in Montana and Wyoming in honor of Yellowstone National Park's 150th anniversary; availability at the Limestone Branch Distillery and across Kentucky will follow soon thereafter, with a limited national allocation of the whiskey coming in August, and a final release slated for the fourth quarter of the year.

Buzzard's Roost Cigar Rye

Style: Rye

Origin: Indiana

Age: 4 year old

ABV: 52.5%

Price: $75

Release: March 2022

Availability: Approximately 700 bottles in AR, KY, MA, NM, OH

Need to know:

Buzzard's Roost Cigar rye, the latest whiskey from this Louisville-based independent bottler, starts life as a 4 year old Indiana rye whiskey. Before bottling, the whiskey is finished in char no.-1 barrels that were then toasted and finally cold smoked with Kentucky-grown cigar tobacco. Buzzard's Roost has released just 3 barrels of the finished rye, around 700 bottles in all.

Whisky Advocate says:

Barrel finishes offer whisky makers an excellent chance to stand out from the crowd. With new releases coming nearly every day, American distillers are embracing the creativity allowed by barrel finishing. Many distillers and bottlers opt for wine or spirits finished releases, so Buzzard's Roost Cigar rye certainly stands out as a fairly unique finished whiskey. While Cigar rye hasn't made its way into the Buying Guide, Buzzard's Roost Single Barrel rye scored well last winter, earning 91 points for its blend.

Royal Salute 26 year old Scottish Oak Cask Finish

Style: Blended whisky

Origin: Scotland

Age: 26 year old

ABV: 40%

Price: $379

Release: March 2022

Availability: Limited release

Need to know:

Royal Salute celebrates the wild landscapes of its Scottish homeland with this new release from its Kingdom series. Master blender Sandy Hyslop created a new formula 26 year old blend specifically for finishing in new Scottish oak casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Scottish oak casks are incredibly rare in the modern history of scotch whisky, with past bottlings from Glengoyne and The Famous Grouse being among the best-known examples. Scottish oak may be the same species as American oak, Quercus alba, but it has a fractionally tighter grain and it performs differently during maturation— in this instance contributing ginger, marmalade, and dark toffee flavors to Royal Salute's signature orchard fruit character. The timber is also notoriously difficult to work with: each tree barely yields sufficient cooperage-grade oak for making two or three barrels (in contrast with Irish oak, which can yield six or seven). The casks were raised at Speyside Cooperage where they were lightly toasted and given a heavy char to open up the wood.

The liquid is comprised of malts and grains from 28 distilleries, based around a heart of Longmorn in second fill butts. The blend includes Glenburgie to add jammy flavors, plus Strathisla, Strathclyde, and some peated Caperdonich.

WhistlePig PiggyBack Legends Series: Big Papi Barrel

Style: Rye

Origin: Canada

ABV: 48.28%

Age: 6 year old

Price: $50

Release: March 31, 2022

Availability: Limited; roughly 100 barrels with 100-200 bottles per barrel, available in FL, MA, and online

Need to know:

The first of three single barrel releases from WhistlePig and Barstool Sports as part of the new Legends Series, this 100% rye whiskey was finished in barrels containing toasted maplewood bats, the same used by Hall of Fame slugger David Ortiz, known to fans as Big Papi. The bats are fire toasted, with the whiskey undergoing a 6 week finishing period before bottling. A limited number of bottles signed by Ortiz will be available for $340, with proceeds benefiting the David Ortiz Boston Heart Classic. Ortiz wore No. 34 over 14 seasons with the Boston Red Sox and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past January. Bottles are available for purchase starting March 31st on WhistlePig's website.

Whisky Advocate says:

After a bit of a delay, the 2022 Major League Baseball season begins on Thursday, April 7th, and for fans looking to raise a glass to celebrate, WhistlePig has this new single barrel rye to offer. We have explored the connection between whiskey and baseball in the past, including the ways in which Minor league teams honor their whiskey roots, why a Highball is a good whiskey alternativeto the standard ballpark beer, and in our Spring 2022 issue, which is on newsstands now, we profile Seattle Mariners second baseman Adam Frazier's love of whisky and his growing collection.

Chattanooga Whiskey Founder's 10th Anniversary Blend

Style: Blend of straight bourbons

Origin: Tennessee and Indiana

ABV: 50%

Age: Not stated

Price: $50

Release: April 2022

Availability: 8,000 bottles

Need to know:

This bourbon is a blend of three recipes, each aged between 3 and 4 years. After primary and secondary aging, the casks were transferred to a 650-gallon charred oak “Founder's Barrel,” where they are married together.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Anniversary Blend combines several different whiskeys made at Chattanooga, including a version of its second-ever experimental single batch (51% of the blend), its signature barrel 91 recipe (9% of the blend), and its original 1816 recipe sourced from MGP (40% of the blend). This release is a celebration of all the whiskey Chattanooga has released in the past 10 years as it established itself as a player on Tennessee's new whisky renaissance. For a full feature story on the rise of Tennessee whiskey, complete with our best selections, pick up the Spring issue of Whisky Advocate.

Penelope Bourbon Architect Series

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Indiana

ABV: 52%

Age: Not stated

Price: $60

Release: April 2022

Availability: 15,000 bottles in AR, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, RI, TN, TX, WI

Need to know:

The Architect series takes Penelope's standard Four Grain straight bourbon and finishes it with two styles of French oak staves.

Whisky Advocate says:

Maker's Mark put French oak stave finishing on the map with its Maker's 46 expression (and that whisky coincidentally just received new packaging) but the process isn't proprietary, as Penelope applies it here to bourbon made at MGP in Indiana.

Four Gate Kelvin Collaboration IIII (Batch 19)

Style: Blend of straight bourbons and straight rye

Origin: Kentucky and Indiana

Age: Not stated

ABV: 55.85%

Price: $200

Release: March 2022

Availability: 3,158 bottles; GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, TN, TX

Need to know:

Batch 19 from Four Gate is the fourth instalment of its Kelvin Collaboration series. This year's release is a blend of 6 and 7 year old Kentucky straight bourbons, 9 year old Indiana straight bourbon (all of which have a 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley mash bill), and 8 year old Indiana straight rye (95% rye, 5% malted barley) that was then finished in Australian tawny port and Barbadian dark rum casks.

Four Gate Four by Four (Batch 20)

Style: Finished bourbon

Origin: Indiana

Age: 9 year old

ABV: 51.6%

Price: $200

Release: March 2022

Availability: 636 bottles; IL, KY, TX

Need to know:

Batch 20 from Four Gate isa blend of barrels of 9 year old Indiana straight bourbon finished in Barbadian dark rum casks. Though it is bottled at cask strength, it still represents the lowest proof of any batch released to date.

Whisky Advocate says:

This pair of new whiskeys comes just a few weeks after Four Gate released Batch 17, a barrel proof bourbon aged 7 years and finished in cognac casks. While these whiskeys usually come with a hefty price tag, they are true small batch limited releases, usually bottled at cask strength with an inventive finish. The quality is there, too, with every Four Gate batch reviewed to date receiving 90 points or more from our tasting panel.