So you love Jameson. Sure, it’s a great shooting whiskey. But after you reach a certain age, it’s time to upgrade to an Irish whiskey that deserves to be sipped, rather than shot with a pickleback. This spicy 12-year-old offering from a treasured single pot-still distillery that also makes Green Spot, is the thing to take you from the junior leagues to varsity sipping.
Yellow Spot, which in the last two months became available on the American market for the first time, is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, Spanish sherry and Spanish Malaga casks. While it’s a great base for cocktails, its notes of honey, pepper and oak are perfectly fine over a large ice cube.
2: Booker’s Bourbon “Big Man, Small Batch,” $55
If you like your whiskey powerful, this limited-edition bourbon is the way to go. At 128-proof and at seven years, two months and 16 days old, it’ll put more than a little hair on your chest. The uncut whiskey is perfectly able to stand up to mixers, but needs a little ice or water to cut the robust flavor. It was created in honor of Booker Noe, the sixth-generation master distiller at Jim Beam (who the brand calls the “father of small-batch bourbon”). The bottling features a special label to commemorate his legacy.
3: Woodford Reserve Rye Whiskey, $38
Woodford Reserve’s new whiskey comes in the same distinctive bottle, but flips the coin on style. Master distiller Chris Morris has been working to create this whiskey since 2006, and it was released in February 2015. Sweeter than the traditional rye, this new bottling is a great transition to alternative American whiskies for bourbon lovers. It’s smooth on the tongue and lingers with a sweet, spiced taste.
4: Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach, $85
Is Scotch your jam? This new limited release from Bunnahabhain is absolutely worth the dough—if you can find it. At 46.3 percent ABV, Ceòbanach, meaning smoky mist in Scots Gaelic, is surprisingly mellow and flavorful, with a sweet smoky finish and notes of salt. (Logical being that it’s distilled in Islay on the shoreline where the Margadale River flows in Bunnahabhain Bay. Though it was released nationwide in February 2015, only about 4,000 bottles hit the U.S. market.
5: Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Groth Finish, $80
Launching in April 2015, the newest addition to Jefferson’s whiskey family takes its cues from an unlikely source: Napa Valley. The bottling is aged for six years in American oak and then for nine months in ex-Cabernet Sauvignon casks made of French oak from Groth Vineyards & Winery in Oakville, Napa Valley, that were stored in a hot box, allowing the wine notes in the wood to sweat out more rapidly. The end result is a subtle bourbon with heavy cherry and vanilla notes and a light kick at the end. Not bad for an experimental bourbon.