While the best-known whiskeys in the world may be Scotland’s namesake scotch and Kentucky’s bourbon, great whiskeys are made all around the world, including the following newcomers, which all rolled out within the past year.
While what’s in the glass is worthwhile on its own, what makes some of the newest bottlings so compelling are the stories they have to tell. Some conjure a picture of historical events. Consider, for example, Canadian Club’s The Dock Man, intended to celebrate the dockside whiskey-runners of the Prohibition era, or Forty Creek’s Victory, a toffee-forward sipper blended to commemorate the 205th anniversary of the Engagement at the Forty, a War of 1812 battle fought close to the distillery.
For others, it’s about building a sense of provenance. While Alfred Giraud’s silky “triple malt” whiskeys leave no doubt that these drams are crafted in the heart of the famed Cognac region, a pair of limited editions from Japan’s Nikka deliberately channel seaside brininess or mellower tones reminiscent of the gentle rush of mountain air.
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Cognac is all about blending, so naturally, a Cognac-maker is applying that skill to whiskey, launching a duo of blended malts in August 2019. Giraud refers to these bottlings as “triple malts,” because the whiskeys are sourced from three distilleries, blended and aged in ex-Cognac casks.
These bottlings will appeal to Cognac lovers as well as whiskey stalwarts. Nonpeated Harmonie is golden and bright, melding honey with dried fruit and a mouthwateringly nutty hint. By comparison, peated Heritage wraps honey and dried apricot in a cloak of peat smoke, finishing with clove and black pepper heat.
The second edition in the Canadian Club Chronicles series is also named The Dock Man, as a nod “to celebrate the dock men of years past who consistently delivered quality whisky to bar owners and drinkers when counterfeit ran rampant during the Prohibition era,” says the producer. This special bottling, batched and barreled more than four decades ago, was released in November 2019. It’s light and mild, with toasted almond and vanilla cream pie anchored by cinnamon and clove spice.
This limited-edition blend commemorates the 205th anniversary of the Engagement at the Forty. The base is a mix of corn and rye whiskies, some of it treated with what the producer calls “high vanilla wood staves.” A small amount of the distillery’s 1999 Villard Noir Port is added for balance. The end result is rich with toffee, brown sugar and maple, finishing with spicy sizzle and the faintest hint of espresso. It’s packaged in a distinctive broad-shouldered bottle, making it a memorable choice for gifting.
Matured in American bourbon and European oloroso sherry barrels, hence the name "double cask,” this is the latest expression from the Rampur distillery, located at the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. It’s particularly fragrant, scented with lots of orange peel and vanilla. The palate surprises with a soft hickory-smoke-like note, plus plenty of candied fruit and spice box flavors.
Single Malt Miyagikyo Limited Edition 2019 / Single Malt Yoichi Limited Edition 2019 (Japan, both $3,500)
At this high-end price point, these obviously are super-special-edition bottlings, with only 70 bottles of each released in December 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nikka’s Miyagikyo distillery. What’s in the bottle is a composition of whiskies from the past five decades: the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In the case of the Miyagikyo expression, the single malt contains some of the very first whisky coming out of the distillery.
Here’s the backstory: Yoichi distillery is located near the sea and produces rich, peaty whiskies. Miyagikyo was built as a counterpoint to that, surrounded by mountains and fresh-water rivers, the better to produce a buttery, mild malt. The bottle design of each limited edition features a nod to its home: The background design of Yoichi denotes the sea, while the Miyagikyo refers to mountains. Can’t get your hands on a bottle but still want a taste of Nikka? Try the excellent Nikka Pure Malt Taketsuru bottling.
When Teeling opened its doors in March 2015, it became the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years. Although it has released other bottlings that were distilled at the Cooley Distillery (which was founded by John Teeling), the Single Pot Still expression is the first whiskey that was distilled in-house at Teeling. What’s in the bottle is a 50-50 mix of malted and unmalted barley, distilled on a copper pot still, as the name suggests, and aged about three years, with floral and fresh orchard fruit notes characteristic of Irish whiskies.