A treasure trove of interesting and lesser-known whiskeys was unveiled and lost in the hubbub of the decade’s closing. From a bourbon brand’s first-ever rye to an indie whiskey landing on more shelves, here are five of the most intriguing bottles of brown to hunt down in the new year.
Old Forester Single Barrel (Barrel Proof)
Before your hopes get up, allow me to crush them: Old Forester is not releasing a single barrel product at retail. The brand just announced it’s bettering its existing private barrel program, which allows store owners to purchase a single barrel to bottle and sell at their store.
What’s new: Old Forester Single Barrel bottlings will now be available in 100 proof and barrel proof offerings instead of its former 90 proofing. The brand says it’s doing to sate “demand from bourbon fans, bartenders and distributors that are looking for a higher-proof and unique flavor profile.” The 100 proof bottles are priced at $50 while the barrel proof sit at $80. You’ll also be able to buy bottles at Old Forester’s Visitor’s Center in Louisville.
Elijah Craig Rye
At first glance, Elijah Craig Rye makes no sense. It’s a bourbon brand that’s routinely turned out some of the best whiskeys in America for decades. Then you realize Heaven Hill, the company behind Elijah Craig, is among the most respected rye producers in the country. Heaven Hill Distillery’s Rittenhouse ($25) and Pikesville ($50) ryes are both in contention for best-in-class in their own categories, and the Elijah Craig rye shares some of their DNA. Made of a mashbill of 51 percent rye, 35 percent corn and 14 percent malted barley, it’s only a couple percentage points off its predecessors (plus, according to Heaven Hill, it’s made with older whiskey, too).
Bad news: availability is limited to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Oregon at launch, with rollout beginning later this month. The suggested retail price is $30.
High West American Single Malt
If Japan and Scotland have trademark single malts, why don’t we? That’s the question hundreds of American distillers have been asking and attempting to remedy for a few years now, and one High West answered for itself in typically weird High West fashion. It’s a blend of whiskeys matured between 2 and 9 years, some of which are peated and some aren’t, and part of the blend is finished in port wine barrels. It’s launching exclusively in Utah for $80. For more American Single Malt variants, check the American Single Malt Commission’s member list.
Wilderness Trail Bottled-in-Bond Single Barrel
This isn’t new whiskey, but it’s going to be new to most people. Based in Danville, Ky., Wilderness Trail is an independent whiskey darling, and starting late winter 2020, it’ll be available in Ca., Wa., Nv. and Tx. on top of the states it already has shelf space in (check this map for details). Wilderness Trail first gained notoriety for successfully operating as a sweet mash whiskey making outlet, which turned the heads of whiskey luminaries like Fred Minnick and Chuck Cowdery.
Larceny Barrel Proof
Retailing around $25 and available all the time, regular old Larceny has shared the title of best entry-level wheated bourbon with Maker’s Mark for years. Starting this month, you’ll be able to drink it a staggering 30-plus proof points higher. Heaven Hill says the Barrel Proof variant will release thrice yearly and will retail for $50.