Get ready for a bevy of new bourbons. Some are long-aged or special anniversary bottlings, others are meant to evoke an old-timey feel with colorful back stories, and still others offer extra flavor, such as the butter cookie goodness of a wheated bourbon or a fruitcake-like sherry finish. All are worth a pour right now.
The “secret ingredient” here is an extra dose of wheat. This bourbon’s mash bill includes 45 percent wheat (most wheat-forward bourbons have 20 to 30 percent wheat), plus 51 percent corn and 4 percent malted barley. After four years of aging, the end result is light and mellow, with pecan, vanilla, allspice and even a distinct butter cookie note. There’s even a hint of effervescence. Taken all together, it’s reminiscent of sipping on a boozy bottle of sarsaparilla.
Released earlier this year under Campari America’s Whiskey Barons Collection, this whiskey aims to recreate what bourbons from two long-shuttered distilleries might have tasted like. Bond & Lillard straight bourbon is on the lighter side, with a spiced palate that leads into a drying finish. It’s meant to mimic a grand-prize-winning bourbon at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and was built using tasting notes from that judging. In reality, it’s a seven-year-old whiskey made at Wild Turkey, filtered to produce a lighter feel.
Also part of Campari America’s Whiskey Barons Collection, Old Ripy is full-bodied, showing plenty of oak and vanilla. It’s intended to reproduce a whiskey created in 1868 by Irish immigrant James Ripy. What’s in the bottle was distilled at Wild Turkey, a blend of eight-year-old bourbon blended with other whiskeys, some as old as 12 years. It’s non-chill-filtered, so the spirit retains a bit more heft.
This much-anticipated annual release comes out each fall, and by the time you read this, it’s likely that the 2017 edition will be on the way. No matter: The 2016 bottling, marking the 15th anniversary of this series, is a special one worth seeking out. Oak dominates on the nose and palate, and that’s not a bad thing here. It means rich vanilla and caramel balance out against baking spice and orange peel. Mix it into an Old Fashioned, or enjoy the bold flavor on its own, with a cube of ice.
This Kentucky newcomer, packaged in a tall hourglass-shaped bottle, has a distinct sticky-toffee–caramel note that’s not often seen in bourbon, making it an intriguing choice to sip or mix. If the suggestion of maple syrup isn’t your thing, a non-sherry-finished bottling is also available.
The latest addition to the Orphan Barrel lineup is ideally enjoyed as a slow sipper. The aroma unfolds complex dried fig, spice cake and deep sherry notes. But it sips relatively dry, starting with leather and cocoa, then leading into more luscious butterscotch before finishing dry and spiced. Add a little water to coax out more vanilla.
In April, Diageo released this limited-edition bourbon, its first re-release since its launch in 2015 (and priced a bit higher than the original, which retailed around $150). It’s a big, rounded whiskey, with plenty of warm caramel and vanilla, winding into a long lip-smacking finish accented with orange peel and walnut, just right for sipping fireside when the autumn breezes blow in.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.