It has been a tough year for bourbon producers, with Jim Beam, O.Z. Tyler and Sazerac’s Barton all experiencing distillery disasters that resulted in thousands of barrels of lost product. Luckily, there’s still plenty of great bourbon to go around. From history-inspired bottlings to big-time collaborations to limited editions from legendary producers, these are the eight new bourbon bottles to try now.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #1 ($60)
Part of a trio of bourbons released by this Bardstown, K.Y., producer, this bottling blends 40% 11-year-old Kentucky bourbon (source not specified), with 42% two-year-old high-rye bourbon and 18% two-year-old wheated bourbon, both from Bardstown Bourbon. The end result is a spice-forward sipper that unwinds long ribbons of vanilla, almond and maple. It’s bottled at nearly 100 proof, so add water to taste.
Pronounced “Bond-eye,” this 100% corn small-batch bourbon is made in Minnesota but is named for Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach, where the producers say they were when they first decided to make bourbon. The oak flavor dominates, with vanilla and almond giving way to a burst of baking spice and a dry finish.
Four Roses Small Batch Select ($63)
Marking the first permanent addition to the Four Roses portfolio since 2016, this new bottling, released April 2019, also commemorates the Kentucky distillery’s grand reopening. This mellow sipper offers plenty of concentrated toasty vanilla and brioche notes, finishing long and lip-smacking with a flurry of cinnamon spice. It’s bottled at cask strength, so pour on the branchwater.
Freeland Spirits Batch #3 ($49)
Run by a trio of women, this Portland, Ore., distillery opened its doors in summer 2018 and launched this bourbon the subsequent fall. What’s in the teardrop-shaped bottle is a blend of three- and 12-year-old bourbons, rested in Oregon's Elk Cove pinot noir barrels to add "a flavor of the Pacific Northwest." Look for toffee, orange peel and clove, finishing with an oaky accent.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
Kentucky Owl Confiscated ($125)
This bourbon comes with a history lesson: Charles Dedman first built the C.M. Dedman distillery in 1879, where he made whiskey until the Feds came knocking in 1916, seizing a warehouse of Kentucky Owl barrels. Thanks to Prohibition, the brand faded away, at least until Dedman’s great-great-grandson, Dixon Dedman, resuscitated it in 2014. “Confiscated” is a nod to those barrels the government appropriated. This is a rounded, weighty sipper, opening with allspice and cinnamon and evolving to concentrated espresso, mocha and maple, braced up with faint citrusy acidity.
King of Kentucky 2019 Release ($250)
This is the second edition of the brand from Kentucky’s Brown-Forman, an homage to a brand started in 1881, acquired by Brown-Forman in 1936 and sunsetted in 1968. Part of an ongoing series of releases featuring barrel-strength, minimally filtered bourbon, this release is one derived from two barrels, both 15 years old. It explodes with toffee, cocoa, oak and warming spice; adding water unfurls subtle violet and citrus notes. It’s a limited edition, with 2,100 bottles produced.
This joint project from Beam Suntory started with distillate made in Kentucky by Beam’s Fred Noe, then blended by Suntory’s chief blender Shinji Fukoyo. The end result is a whiskey with concentrated caramel and spice on the nose and palate, which evolves into creamier dulce de leche tones with a splash of water. Some of the bourbon was finished in wine and sherry casks, which contributes a dried-fruit hint. Sip or mix.
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Spring 2019 Edition ($130)
Heaven Hill releases a new Old Fitz each spring and fall; this is the third release in the series, packaged in an ornate decanter. The liquid inside was distilled in September 2005, and it’s delightful, mixing dulce de leche and coconut sweetness with assertive cinnamon and cayenne spice. Bottled at 100 proof, add water to coax out even more toasty complexity.