Whiskey sunshine: 8 new bourbons and ryes you must savor

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While some of you all might prefer to savor your best bourbons in the colder months, I like to keep sippin’ on mine all year long. Whiskey just hits different depending on the season, so you should keep riding those harmonious whiskey waves even when the sun shines the brightest.

Here’s another roundup of recent releases in the whiskey world that are guaranteed to knock your sandals off. If you have the opportunity to try one of these gems, don’t hesitate. Like those sultry summer nights, these sippers are truly something to savor.

Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 10

114.24 Proof | $139.99

Details: Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s Discovery Series is all about the blend, as it is made of sourced, aged bourbons from around the country (and sometimes Canada). Each series is different, of course, and this latest one — No. 10 — is a blend of five different bourbons that range from 6 to 13 years old and predominantly hail from Kentucky. But there’s a twist! Two of the bourbons come from Georgia (10 year) and Tennessee (10 year) just to keep you all on your toes. And the Georgia bourbon is actually a four-grain recipe. They’re legit mad scientists over at BBCo, but dammit, they know how to make great whiskey.

Tasting Notes: Maybe it’s because I haven’t had much sugar these days, but I’m getting fabulous wafts of GooGoo Clusters on the nose with a nice medley of peanuts, caramel and marshmallow. On first sip, it’s straight-up Little Debbie Star Crunch with more caramel deliciousness, milk chocolate and sugar-coated rice crisps. There’re even some warm fruit notes that come out on second and third sips, liked baked cherries. And on the finish, it’s a delicate spicy-sweet combo that makes you want to go back for more.

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series BEP

110.7 Proof | $69.99

Details: Sadly, this is the final release of the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series, but perhaps they saved the best for last. The five-year storytelling series explored the nuances of MM bourbon with a fascinating wood-finishing technique that highlighted certain flavors and mouthfeels. And with BEP — which stands for Barrel Entry Proof — they’re highlighting Maker’s 110 entry proof, one of the lower ones in the industry. The result is extreme notes of vanilla and baking spices that was achieved by taking fully mature Maker’s Mark and finishing it with 10 toasted American oak staves for five weeks.

Tasting Notes: While vanilla is certainly the shining star here, I also get a little citrus and milk chocolate on both the nose and the palate. The chocolate is so overpowering, I immediately thought I was chewing on a handful of melty Milk Duds. The mouthfeel on this is amazing — viscous and rich with brown sugar, cardamom and even a dash of espresso on the finish. I could sip on this all day long if I had an unlimited supply. Unfortunately, I’ve only got half the bottle left as of this writing. Someone send help.

Rabbit Hole Distillery Tenniel

108.8 Proof | $650

Details: To celebrate 10 years in the business, Rabbit Hole founder Kaveh Zamanian wanted to create a product that both highlights his skills as a whiskey maker and also offers consumers something special. This achieves both goals well. Tenniel is a blend of Rabbit Hole’s Cavehill (four-grain mash bill) and Heigold (high-rye bourbon mash bill) that has been finished in a No. 1 char toasted barrel for added flavor. If you’re lucky to get your hands on it, there are only 939 bottles available, and it comes in a fancy crystal decanter and gift box. The name is a tribute to artist John Tenniel, who illustrated Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” book in 1865.

Tasting Notes: Every captain must have a Tenniel, and it looks like I’ve found mine! This limited release is exquisite — maybe not $650 exquisite, but that price is reflective of the fancy decanter, the gift box and the artwork, too. My guess is very few who shell out the bucks will actually open this, and that’s a shame. On the nose I get straight up pastry shop: that sweet smell of confections, baking spices and fresh baked donuts. Then, on first sip, I get a pleasant warming spice, like black pepper, followed by subtle notes of roasted almond, oak, vanilla bean and caramel frosting. The finish is a bit quick but leaves you with that same sweet and sticky mouthfeel you get when eating a warm glazed donut.

291 Colorado Whiskey E (Batch 12)

121.6 Proof | $149.99

Details: They’re calling this the perfect sippin’ bourbon of the summer because it’s a blend of two wheated bourbons from the libations library at 291. Wheated mash bills tend to go down smoothly, and this one does not stray from that notion — even at 121.6 proof. This is the first new four-grain wheated bourbon release from 291 since the popular The Bad Guy came out in 2013. If you’re wondering, E stands for “Experimental,” and this is the 12 th edition of the successful, highly regarded line. Between the two mash bills, this batch contains corn, malted white wheat, rye malt and malted barley.

Tasting Notes: I generally try to avoid reading the tasting notes provided in press releases as to not be swayed, but this one caught my eye because it listed Big League Chew bubble gum and Hot Tamales as two flavors found in this batch of 291 E. While I don’t quite get Big League Chew, I’m seconding the Hot Tamales inspiration here because it’s got a slow-burning cinnamon heat on the palate that also has a pleasant sugary mouthfeel. Other flavors include brown sugar, black pepper, toasted marshmallow and candied cashews. The finish has a bite to it, but I’d encourage you to bite back. Pass the Tamales, please!

Booker’s “Apprentice Batch”

125.5 Proof | $89.99

Details: Soon after Booker Noe started employment at the family distillery in 1952, he was assigned to work under the watchful eye of his cousin Carl Beam (father of Baker Beam). Carl taught him the ropes at the newly opened Beam expansion distillery in Boston, Ky., and it was through this apprenticeship that Booker learned just about everything he needed to know about bourbon-makin’. This batch, the second of 2023, honors that tutelage. The bourbon is 7 years old and comes in at 125.5 proof.

Tasting Notes: The nose on this is incredible, which is expected for a Booker’s release. I get the familiar Beam oak and vanilla combination, with hints of tobacco and leather. On the palate, I’m not getting a strong Kentucky hug like I was expecting, but rather a gentle arm-around-the-shoulder hug. That’s surprising for a 125 proof spirit, but it also makes it more enjoyable to sip slowly. Notes of raisin, oak and Modjeska continue on into the long finish. Never sleep on Booker’s — he never disappoints.

Milam & Greene Very Small Batch

108 Proof | $69.99

Details: This small Texas distillery is making big waves with its innovative ways of blending bourbons from all over. In this case, the small batch consists of 75 barrels of bourbons distilled in Kentucky and Tennessee, and then moved to Texas to highlight the effect climate has on whiskey from three locals. And if that wasn’t enough, the bourbon was finished in French oak staves that had sat out in the Texas sun and then were charred on the outside only. With all those variables going on in the kitchen, you gotta trust the cook. And I trust master blender Heather Greene and master distiller Marlene Holmes completely. Why? Because I’ve never had a Milam & Greene whiskey that was anything but superb.

Tasting Notes: I don’t know if I have been influenced by the word “French” in the description, but from the nose and palate to the long and luxurious finish, I get warm notes of French toast all throughout. Sprinkles of cinnamon and citrus show up in the first sip as well, followed by a little oak, nutmeg, brown sugar, toasted praline and even tobacco. This Very Small Batch is very delightful from start to finish.

Hemingway Rye Whiskey Signature Edition

102 Proof | $79.99

Details: The Hemingway Whiskey Company now has a homebase at the soon-to-open Western Kentucky Distilling Co. in Beaver Dam, Ky. It’s also being led by the talented Call family of distillers: seventh-generation master distiller Ron Call and his sons, ambassador Clayton Call and eighth-generation master distiller Jacob Call, formerly of Green River Distilling. Hemingway Whiskey founder and pioneer Steve Groth is also involved. This first foray into rye whiskey includes distillate from Indiana and Kentucky (90%, 10% respectively) that has been finished in Ron Call’s own rum-seasoned Oloroso sherry casks.

Tasting Notes: Much like the Milam & Greene whiskey previously mentioned, there are a lot of moving parts here, but it all seamlessly comes together in one deliciously unified rye. The nose is very citrusy and floral, and on first sip, you get some nice black pepper spice from the rye, but it quickly gives way to delightful flavors of baked cherries, caramel drizzle, sweet dough — almost like a cherry strudel fresh from the oven. I suspect a lot of the sweetness and robust viscosity comes from the rum-finished sherry barrels, which is nice touch on a rye whiskey. The finish is warm and meandering in a good way — like the satisfying journey of a Hemingway novel.

Evan Willams Square 6 Wheated Bourbon

105 Proof | $89.99

Details: This is the third release of this series made exclusively at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville, Ky., and it’s the only wheated recipe thus far. The first Square 6 release was a high-rye bourbon that launched in 2021, and the second release, a rye whiskey, came out a year later. This bourbon is comprised of two wheated mash bills and is bottled at a higher proof than the others (105 vs. 95). The artisanal distillery opened in 2013 and makes one barrel a day. If you’re wondering, Square 6 is a reference to the plot of land in downtown Louisville that housed the original Evan Williams location — said to be Kentucky’s first commercial distillery — in 1783.

Tasting Notes: Even though it’s higher in proof than the others, this Square 6 drinks a whole lot easier. On the nose I get pleasant notes of vanilla and fig, and then on the palate it’s a potpourri of baking spices, caramel corn, roasted nuts and a nice blend of vanilla and oak. It reminded me of munching on Cracker Jack’s at a baseball game. The finish leaves you with a nice prize of brown sugar and citrus. It must be a home run!

This article originally appeared on Alcohol Professor and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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