If Knob Creek is your go-to bourbon of choice, you'll want to pay special attention to the latest release from the folks at Jim Beam. Knob Creek 2001 Bourbon is the oldest Knob Creek release to date, spending 14 years in barrels before being bottled at 100 proof. 2001 was also the year that current master distiller Fred Noe had the torched passed to him from his father, the late Booker Noe. Some of the last barrels that Booker laid down in 2001 are represented in this special batch of Knob that also comes packaged in this commemorative wooden case.
Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon is exactly what it sounds like — Bulleit Bourbon bottled straight from the barrel. The same high-rye mash bill you've come to love in standard Bulleit is intact, but the uncut and unfiltered version clocks in between 118-125 proof. Available in 375 and 750 mL bottles, it's your first chance to taste the truest form of Bulleit Bourbon that's ever been bottled.
The Barton 1792 Distillery takes its name from the year Kentucky became a state, and might be the most underrated distillery in the bluegrass. 1792 Single Barrel Bourbon is the third special release from Barton in the past year, but the first that is a single barrel expression. Bottled at 98.6 proof, it follows the already sold out Sweet Wheat and Port Finish special releases and will likely follow suit when it comes to scarcity as well.
While most bourbons sit in a warehouse aging through seasons and temperature changes, the folks at Jefferson's wanted to take their barrels to sea. That's right, Jefferson's Ocean Cask Strength Bourbon set sail in an huge container vessel and stopped in five continents while crossing the equator four times. It's had a handful of releases already, but this is the first time it's been bottled at cask strength. With the whiskey moving constantly, aging is sped up, resulting in a truly unique dram at an ABV that's sure to set you afloat.
As the bourbon industry continues to grow, it's great to see brands from the past revived. Yellowstone Select Bourbon is a product of Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky and is a blend of 4-year and 7-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The Yellowstone name was dusted off by the Limestone owners last year after over a century when their great-grandfather sold the brand. That lineage helped inspire the labels as well, with layouts taken from historical Yellowstone illustrations.
If you're sipping it neat or mixing into some egg nog, the holidays should always include some Woodford Reserve. And now you've got a reason to grab a fresh bottle of this Woodford Reserve Holiday Bourbon. Featuring artwork from Louisville artist Thomas William Foerster, it paints a snowy setting outside the Woodford Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. The same great juice but in a limited edition bottle that sets the scene for several chilly evening pours this winter.
By now, you're probably familiar with Angel's Envy, those beautiful bottles with the angel wings gracing the back of the glass. The port cask finish that gives it a unique, easy sipping taste. Now imagine all of that, but at 127.9 proof. Angel's Envy Cask Strength Bourbon is just that, but it's only released once a year, and this year, the yield is only 7,500 bottles. So do whatever you can do locate and sample one of the best barrel proof bourbons available before it's long gone, until next year.
Usually, if you're talking about a wheated bourbon from the now extinct Stitzel-Weller Distillery, it's Pappy Van Winkle that you're referencing. But John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve Bourbon fits that same criteria, and might garner the same attention as well. Heaven Hill acquired 12 barrels from the old distillery when they bought the Old Fitzgerald line, and those barrels were aged for 20 years before they produced a very limited 3,000 bottles of bourbon. Each of these hard to find bottles are housed in a handmade wooden box with die-cut keyholes and hinged doors that close with magnets — increasing the appeal for this sought after product even more.
If Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell ever does retire, it'll be tough to top the tribute that fills the bottles of Russell's Reserve 1998 Bourbon. His son, and fellow Master Distiller Eddie Russell set this bourbon aside back in 1998 with his father in mind, and while Jimmy has yet to stop working after 61 years at the helm, the bourbon is ready for consumption right now. It aged gracefully in the Wild Turkey timber rickhouses and was bottled at 102.2 proof when Eddie deemed it ready. But only 23 barrels, or a little over 2,000 bottles will ever see the light of day, making this a turkey worth hunting.
Every year, Four Roses release their Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon in the fall, and every year it's one of the best whiskies made. This year is no exception, and you could argue that it might be the best one yet, especially since it's the last one Master Distiller Jim Rutledge will have his fingerprints on before his retirement. It's a barrel strength blend of 16-year-old OBSK, 14- and 15-year-old OESK and 11-year OBSV recipes and won't be on store shelves long if it makes it there at all.
Woodford Reserve amped things up a couple years ago with the release of Double Oaked, and now, they've taken things even further with Double Double Oaked Bourbon. The most recent release in their Distillery Series — which Master Distiller Chris Morris uses to experiment with special batches — sees Double Oaked matured for an additional year in heavily toasted lightly charred new oak barrels. More time in the barrel means more complex flavors, including a spicier finish you won't find in regular Double Oaked.
When a legendary distiller like Jimmy Russell is ready to share his role, it's wise to keep things in the family. Wild Turkey Master's Keep is an homage from Jimmy's son Eddie, who will be sharing the role of master distiller, to his father. Master's Keep is a 17 year old whiskey that was aged in both stone warehouses of another distillery that Wild Turkey used when they were low on space, as well as the wooden warehouses that helped make Turkey famous. It's a smooth, unique sip that weighs in at a very approachable 86.8 proof.
You probably already know that Booker's Bourbon is one of the better choices in the increasingly popular world of barrel proof bourbons. But Center Cut takes things up a notch, not only because it was pulled from a part of the rack house that the late Booker Noe preferred, but also because it was specially chosen by an exclusive group of whiskey experts. Tipping the scales at 127.2 proof, Beam's Master Distiller Fred Noe headed up the tasting panel, and the results are a batch of Booker's that will likely be in greater demand than any other that is released this year.
Rye whiskey and rye influenced bourbons are fantastic drinks, but some prefer a sweeter taste when it comes to whiskey. 1792 Sweet Wheat Bourbon replaces the often used rye grain in their bourbon mashbill with wheat, giving it a softer, sweeter flavor profile. The new 1792 expression was distilled in 2007 — and then aged, and bottled at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, KY. Wheated bourbons became famous thanks to the Pappy Van Winkle line — and while this isn't that, it's accessible, affordable and worthy of your booze dollars.
One of the most historic bourbon brands around is getting nostalgic with their newest release, Old Forestor 1897 Bottled In Bond Bourbon. Crafted to honor the U.S. Bottled-in-Bond act of 1897, which was legislation enacted in reaction to the underhanded practice of blending additives and who knows what else into spirits and passing it off as bourbon. Bottled in Bond bourbon must have been the product of one distillation season, one distiller, and from one distillery. It's also aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. You get all that and more with 1897, a lightly filtered small batch expression that celebrates the past in a proper, great tasting fashion.
Choosing the best looking bottle on the shelf without any other knowledge of what it contains, won't typically yield good results. However, Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon is an eye pleasing example that looks as good on your bar as it tastes in your glass. Named after an old expression describing your best looking attire, Bib & Tucker is a six year old bourbon distilled in small batches and bottled at 92 proof by 35 Maple Street Spirits. Finally, a liquor store gamble that truly pays off.
If there's any magic left at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery in Kentucky, then the folks at Diageo are ready to harvest it. The historic distillery that produced the Pappy Van Winkle line for so long was closed in 1992, but whiskey like Blade & Bow 22-Year-Old Bourbon utilize some of the last remaining stock, blended with other fine bourbon, to complete this brand new release. Named after the two parts of a skeleton key, Blade and Bow took home the double gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition and is a tribute to the famous distillery that changed the way we think about Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
We don't blame you if you aren't familiar with I.W. Harper 15 Year Bourbon, or even the Harper name, mostly because it hasn't been available here in the US in nearly 20 years. The Harper brand dates back to the late 1800's, when Isaac Wolf Bernheim and his brother began distilling. It has remained a premium offering in Japan all along, and if finally back on shelves in the states after a long hiatus. Packed with flavor, this 15 year old bourbon whiskey was distilled at the Bernheim Distillery and comes packaged in this decanter that is as classic as the Harper brand name.
Just because you don't distill bourbon yourself doesn't mean it can't be fantastic. And Red Handed Bourbon from Treaty Oak Distilling in Austin, Texas is a perfect example. Using some of their favorite bourbons from Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Treaty Oak blends them together to find the perfect taste profile and then ages the whiskey for another 12 to 15 months. The results are an expertly blended, unique high rye bourbon that should be on your radar.
Leave it to the fine folks at Buffalo Trace to continue to release unique and experimental bourbons to make our mouths water. E.H. Taylor Cured Oak is the latest, and it's nothing short of special, and rare. For the seventh release in the Taylor line, the barrel staves spent twice as much time outside drying in the open air than normal, which eventually allowed the whiskey to extract even more complex flavors that lie deep within the white oak. It aged for 17 years in the famous brick and limestone Taylor warehouse, which was built back in 1881. It's 100 proof and undoubtedly unique, but after 17 years in the barrel, there won't be nearly enough to go around.
For bourbon lovers who are looking to step up their game when it comes to tasting and being able to distinguish the nuances from different barrels, Single Oak Project Bourbon from Buffalo Trace is an incredible education. The project began in 1999 when Buffalo Trace picked 96 trees with different wood grains and divided them up, yielding 192 unique selections. Since 2011, a handful of the bourbon from those barrels has been released every three months, ending early this year. Get your hands on a few and see if you notice the variations that range from different recipes, varying stave seasoning, or just what warehouse they were stored in.
The fourth release in Diageo's Orphan Barrel line of premium bourbons is ready to hit store shelves, and might be the best of the bunch. Lost Prophet is a 22-year-old bourbon that was distilled in 1991 and bottled at 90 proof. This one-time release is an easy drinker and unlike other extra-aged releases, is not over-oaked. The beautiful packaging matches the contents of the bottle, making this one difficult to resist.
It might sound harsh, but cask strength bourbon is actually some of the most flavorful stuff you can get your hands on. Few Spirits know that, and have recently released a Cask Strength expression of their high-rye mashbill bourbon, clocking in at 117 proof. It's a complex dram with loads of taste and is surprisingly smooth considering the weight. Packaged in another beautiful Few bottle, it should rise to the top of your whiskey shopping list.
What was typically reserved for a taste here and there on a distillery tour is now available in bottles for the first time. Maker's Mark Cask Strength is Maker's Mark, but uncut, unfiltered, and straight from the barrel. It weighs in at a proof between 108-114, quite an uptick from the 90 proof standard bottling. It's Maker's Mark cranked up to eleven, with loads of flavor and character.
Old Forester is the only bourbon brand still in existence that was produced before, during and after Prohibition. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon pays homage to the brand's founder, George Garvin Brown, and in the past dozen years has been a special, annual release every fall. This year's expression was bottled at 97 proof, with plenty of sweet vanilla and maple syrup flavors, making it another great tribute to a pioneer in the bourbon industry.
If there's one thing bourbon connoisseurs love, it's bourbon with an age statement. While many distillers move away from letting you know how old the juice in their bottles are, Heaven Hill continues to annually release "extra-aged" limited edition goods like Elijah Craig 23. This single barrel expression should satisfy both collectors of rare releases and those who work their way through a bottle quickly as well, as the extra-age adds nicely to the overall flavor and experience of a dram. It's a bourbon old enough to drink itself that won't be around very long.
The entire bourbon industry owes a debt to the distillers who laid the groundwork for the boom the industry is currently in the midst of, and Wild Turkey's Jimmy Russell is at the top of that list. Diamond Anniversary is a new bourbon honoring Russell and his 60 years of service to Wild Turkey, selected by his son, Master Distiller Eddie Russell. It's a blend of 13-16 year-old barrels that comes in at 91 proof and does an excellent job paying tribute to Russell and Wild Turkey. A must-have for Wild Turkey fans and anyone who appreciates great bourbon.
There is an old southern term called Pinhooking, used to describe a keen purchase of a young thoroughbred. Bourbon and thoroughbreds are already friendly neighbors and Pinhook Bourbon helps join the two Kentucky staples together with their brand new spirit. The premier batch of 5,000 bottles features a hand-written, letter-pressed label profiling the horse Bourbon Courage — and their next batch will feature another promising colt. But it's what lies inside the bottle that is the real prize — a bright, balanced, high-rye bourbon curated by folks that know good whiskey when they taste it. Picking up a bottle could help you find a new favorite horse to root for and a new favorite bourbon to boot.
The good folks at Heaven Hill Distilleries have been releasing consistently good bourbon forever, and their Elijah Craig line is among their best. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is the beast of the bunch, with the latest batch tipping the scales at over 134 proof, aged for 12 years, straight from the barrel, non-chill filtered, and uncut. It sounds intimidating, and it is, but is also one of the best barrel proof bourbons on the market today.