It’s only August, but it has already been one h stellar year for whiskey lovers. A batch of excellent bottles, from stunning single malt Scotches to otherworldly bourbons and ryes — have already hit shelves across the country. They’re (high) proof that there are always exciting new permutations of old favorites to sip. Without further ado, here are our favorite whiskies of the year to date.
Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon
Spicy and substantial, Four Roses Small Batch Select is a welcome addition to the brand’s core line up. Bottled at 104 proof, Small Batch Select is a fruit forward whiskey with notes of chocolate and nuts balancing a substantial spice. One thing’s for certain: this will sell quickly. So keep your eyes peeled and stock up.
Wild Turkey Cornerstone Rye
The fourth installment of the Wild Turkey’s Master’s Keep series is a high-end bottle for serious rye fans. Master distiller Eddie Russel selected barrels between nine and eleven years old to create the magical Cornerstone Rye. It’s a thick luxurious mouthful with sumptuous notes of vanilla, apple, honey, pepper and oak with a sweet, spicy finish sits there until the next sip. Limited to around 16,000 bottles.
Michter’s 10 Year Rye
The release of Michter’s 10 Year Rye (as well as their bourbon) is always cause to celebrate. It’s always a special bottle we are keen to add to the bar and this year’s edition is particularly delightful, not only because it’s delicious but it’s also the first release newly-minted Master Distiller Dan McKee. Supple vanilla rolls around the palate, while caramel and touch of salt play off the peppery rye spice.
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year
This year, Glenmorangie updated its venerable Quinta Ruban expression. Previously a 12 year finished in port wine casks, the new iteration receives two additional years of aging. Those additional 730 days give the whisky added complexity and deeper, distinct notes of orange, chocolate and apple that compliment the juicy berry and rich nuttiness imparted by the the port finish.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019
Technically, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon doesn’t release until September 2, in commemoration of Brown-Forman founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. But we want to remind you to start making nice with your liquor store owner now on the off chance you can charm your way into getting them to set one aside for you. We tasted a small, early sample, and the 2019 Birthday is has notes of dark fruit and maple as well as seasoned oak and some mint and pepper. It’s a hell of a bottle.
Basil Hayden Caribbean Reserve Rye
No, it’s not entirely whiskey, but the Basil Hayden Caribbean Reserve Rye is none the less delicious. A blend of Kentucky rye and Canadian rye, plus a touch of black strap Caribbean rum. The result is a mouthwatering glass of hooch. That small portion of rum goes a long way, giving the juice strong notes of burnt sugar and rum spice, that plays nicely with the rye’s vanilla and oak.
Bruichladdich Octomore 09.3
For the love of peat, this smokey treat was made using barley from one field on one Islay farm. Aging in a combination of ex-bourbon and French wine barrels gives it a luscious, buttery and savory notes as well as a hints of tree fruits, tea, heather, and a whiff of sea salt. It’s a special occasion bottle for sure,
Booker’s “Teresa’s Batch”
We’ve never met a Booker’s we didn’t like, but Teresa’s Batch is one we just love. Named for a distillery worker who has had hand in cranking out Beam whiskey for more than 30 years, it’s a rich mouthful. Vanilla and wood lead your mouth to a a touch of brown sugar and a nice dose of spice. It is bottled a hair above 125 proof, so we’d recommend adding a touch of water.
For the 10th installment of their Private Edition series, Glenmorangie distilled their spirit from a local barley and a wild yeast that grows naturally on the grains. Allta is a delectably fruity whisky with a zing vividly imparted from the natural yeast. Through the lingering taste of baking bread, flavors of apples, citrus, chocolate, and heather give the whisky wonderful depth.
Every year, the Islay Festival of Malt and Music concludes with Ardbeg Day, when the distillery celebrates with a specially curated release. This year’s whiskey is called Drum, and pays tribute to carnival with a rum finish applied to Ardbeg’s typical bourbon cask aged whisky. Smoke grabs your palate’s attention and follows it up with a rum sweetness and notes of tropical fruits and vanilla. It’s a delicious whisky for any celebration.
Old Forester Rye
This new rye from Old Forester is, at $26, an remarkable value, whether you’re sipping or mixing drinks. It’s a wonderfully flavorful whiskey with peppery spice for days, notes of vanilla, buttered rye toast, and a hint of molasses.
High West Bourye
Another annual we eagerly anticipate, 2019’s limited release of the High West’s Borrye is phenomenal. A blend of bourbon and rye whiskies, all over 10 years old, mouthwatering notes of cherries, spice, nuts and pepper come together for a well-rounded and elegantly balanced sipper.