Want to make a whiskey writer squirm? Ask him or her to name their favorite whiskey. About once a week, I’m hit with that terribly difficult question. It’s so tough to answer, since every few months there’s a whole new batch of amazing whiskies that are introduced. Fall is no exception with an especially delicious batch of bottlings hitting shelves now or over the next few weeks. Here are five to look out for.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon ($80)
Old Forester was started by George Garvin Brown and to honor his birthday, September 2, the company annually bottles what it calls Birthday Bourbon. While the whiskey is always special, this year the company is releasing two versions of a 12-year-old straight bourbon, one is 96 proof and the other one is 95.4 proof. The difference in alcohol level was supposedly created by vapor loss during the bottling process. No doubt bars and whiskey aficionados will try to collect both expressions.
Parker’s Heritage Limited Edition Bottling ($130)
This past January legendary master distiller Parker Beam passed away after battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for more than four years. It’s still hard for me to believe that I won’t get to taste with him again or run into him at whisky festivals. But Parker’s legacy continues on with the 11th release of the Parker Heritage Collection. The whiskies in the series have become quite sought after and are snapped up by collectors. This year’s 11-year-old single barrel bourbon will be no exception. It’s made from whiskey aging in Parker’s favorite warehouse and will go on sale in the next few weeks. And, most importantly, for every bottle sold, $10 will be given to the ALS Association.
Little Book “The Easy” ($80)
When your Jim Beam’s descendant and Booker Noe’s grandson, there’s a good chance you’ll be involved in the whiskey business. So, it’s no great surprise that Freddie Noe has introduced his first whiskey line, Little Book. (That’s the name his grandfather called him and given the circumstances a perfect fit for the liquor.) Every year Freddie will create a special limited-edition blended whiskey. The first one, The Easy, is an interesting and potent blend of corn whiskey, single malt, rye and bourbon. He was given the freedom to pull special barrels from Beam’s different warehouses and the result is a harmonious mix that still showcases the key attributes of the ingredients.
Westward American Single Malt Whiskey ($90)
The latest release from Portland’s venerable House Spirits is Westward American Single Malt. (It should be on store shelves starting September 1.) The whiskey is made completely from Northwest two-row pale malted barley and is distilled twice before aging in new American oak barrels. It just might be the liquor that Scotch and bourbon lovers can drink and appreciate together.
Redemption Wheated Bourbon ($46)
While most bourbon is made from corn, rye and a bit of malted barley, there are a number of brands that make a sweeter “wheated” style that combines corn, malted barley and, you guessed it, wheat. Maker’s Mark and Weller are the most famous wheated bourbons on the market today. Redemption joins the exclusive club with its new release that should be on store shelves now. The four-year-old bourbon includes an impressive 45-perecent winter wheat and has a hint of baking spice notes and a sweet finish.