While we’re often disappointed by Congress, we were delighted and proud in 2007 when our legislators decreed September to be National Bourbon Heritage Month. And as a result, brands now introduce their newest and best bottlings in the fall. Here are seven top whiskies to pick up this year.
Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope Bourbon ($90):
Every year, we look forward to seeing what Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam will pull from his rickhouses for his annual Heritage Collection bottling. The 2013 whiskey (pictured above) is particularly special as it’s the first single-barrel bourbon in the collection, and $20 from each bottle sold will be donated to the ALS Association’s Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon ($55):
Not only is September National Bourbon Heritage Month, but September 2 is also the birthday of one of the industry’s pioneers: George Garvin Brown, creator of Old Forester and founder of the Brown-Forman corporation. Honor him by tasting this year’s edition of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, which was aged for 12 years, bottled at 98-proof and has sweet notes of stone fruits.
Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition 125th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon ($90):
The late 1800s were a golden age for both cocktails and for bourbon distillers. In fact, Four Roses was founded in 1888, and the company’s 2013 Small Batch Bourbon commemorates its 125 years in business. Toast its longevity with this dram that’s a mix of two different 13-year-old whiskies and an 18-year-old.
Wild Turkey Forgiven ($50):
We’ve found some interesting hybrids recently that combine liquor categories. The newest is Wild Turkey’s Forgiven, which is 78 percent bourbon and 22 percent rye, and, according to the brand, was created by accident. Well, it was a happy accident that resulted in this very drinkable spicy-and-sweet spirit. While it’s not technically a bourbon, you’ll want to add this one to your liquor cabinet.
Jim Beam Signature Craft 12-Year Bourbon ($40):
The latest addition to Jim Beam’s vast portfolio is a line of so-called Signature Craft whiskies. You’ll be able to find this easy-drinking 12-year-old all the time, and there is also a limited-edition Signature Craft Rare Spanish Brandy, which includes—you guessed it—a bit of brandy.
Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon ($140):
Previously, if you wanted to buy the acclaimed Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel, you had to make a pilgrimage to the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, Ky. The brand is now releasing a limited number of bottles in select states. Don’t delay: Once it sells out, it’s gone.
Stagg Jr. Bourbon ($50):
Searching for some George T. Stagg Bourbon? Good luck. The perennial favorite is in very short supply, but fortunately Buffalo Trace has come out with this, it’s more affordable and easier-to-find little brother. The bold bourbon with hints of baking spices is a blend of eight- and nine-year-old whiskies and is a potent 134.4-proof.