Distiller’s Friday Roundup – February 8th, 2019By Mikael Mossberg
We’re kicking off February with a post almost entirely dominated by bourbon news. We didn’t plan it that way, it just turned out to be a very bourbon-heavy news week. Four Roses introduced the latest addition to its core lineup with Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon. Buffalo Trace unveiled an ultra-premium limited-edition Eagle Rare. Angel’s Envy is back after a six year dry spell with a new release, an oloroso finished bourbon. Finally, Kentucky bourbon magnates celebrated their industry doubling in size over the past 10 years.
Ten Years of Kentucky Bourbon Boom
This week, leaders of the Kentucky bourbon industry met in the Kentucky capitol. They toasted—with bourbon, naturally—to the unveiling of a new study which revealed the Kentucky bourbon industry has doubled in size in just a decade. Furthermore, over the past ten years the total number of distilleries in Kentucky has more than tripled. There are now 68 distilleries in Kentucky across 32 counties. In fact, there are now almost two barrels of spirits for every person within the state.
While bourbon’s growth is exciting, the spirits boom is not limited to Kentucky. New distilleries are opening almost weekly, with categories of all types of spirits continuing to grow at a steady pace. This new study comes on the heels of two new agreements between the United States and the United Kingdom last week. This agreement ensures that mutual protection for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey will “continue uninterrupted” when the UK officially leaves the European Union in March. The UK is the largest single market for American whiskey exports, and an integral part of bourbon’s decade long growth.
Constellation Brands Continues Move Into Spirits Industry with Black Button Distilling
During the peak of the craft beer movement there was a gold rush of large beverage conglomerates scooping up smaller “craft” brands for huge amounts of money. Over the past few years the same thing has begun to happen in the American craft distilling industry.
Back in early 2015 Angel’s Envy sold to Bacardi Ltd., Pernod Ricard acquired Smooth Ambler, Remy Cointreau acquired Westland, and Constellation purchased High West for $160 Million. Most famous perhaps for its ownership of Corona beer, Constellation has recently begun moving more seriously into the spirits industry. The company recently took minority positions with Copper & Kings and The Real McCoy Rum. Now, it has acquired a minority stake in New York-based Black Button Distilling.
Black Button Small Batch Straight Bourbon / Photo Credit: Black Button Distilling
“For us to continue the growth rate we believe we are capable of, it was time to find an equity partner,” says Black Button founder Jason Barrett. “But we didn’t want just any equity partner. We wanted someone who understood our business, our culture and our goals. We found that partner right in our backyard.”
Four Roses Adds To Permanent Lineup With Non-Chill Filtered Bourbon
For years Four Roses has only had three main whiskeys in their permanent lineup: Four Roses Yellow Label (now simply Four Roses Bourbon), Four Roses Small Batch and Four Roses Single Barrel. Now, they’re adding a new product to their permanent lineup with Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon.
This non-chill-filtered bourbon is bottled at 104 proof and will launch this spring across Kentucky, New York, Texas, Georgia and California with additional locations coming in the future. More details will come around the time of launch, but Master Distiller Brent Elliott shared that the bourbons used for Small Batch Select will be six and seven years old.
“We wanted to add something to our lineup that brings that pure experience you get with a non-chill filtered bourbon, while also showcasing some of our recipes and flavors that aren’t as forward facing in our other existing bottles,” says Elliott. “I am particularly proud of this bourbon, as it is the biggest addition to the storied history of Four Roses since I became Master Distiller.”
Buffalo Trace Debuts Limited Edition 20 Year Old Eagle Rare
Eagle Rare 10 Year has long been a favorite of budget bourbon aficionados. It carries an age statement, is affordable, is high quality and is widely available. Double Eagle Very Rare Bourbon is another beast entirely. Aged for an additional decade, this 20 year bourbon lives inside a hand sculpted crystal glass decanter that features an eagle inside and atop the bottle. Double Eagle, get it?
Only 299 of these bottles are available now. Each bottle carries a suggested retail price of $1,999 and we will see the next release in spring 2020.
Douglas Laing Introduces Old Particular Elements Single Casks
Douglas Laing has unveiled a new Scotch whisky series within a series with its new Elements Collection under the Old Particular portfolio. These single cask releases have been inspired by one of four elements: fire, air, earth or water. The first of these limited-edition releases will be Fire, a bottling of 12 year old Craigellachie from “a well charred sherry butt”.
“Our cask selection and packaging design pays tribute to the natural elements that contribute so significantly to the production of Scotch whisky,” says Cara Laing, Douglas Laing’s director of whisky.
Craigellachie 12 Year “Fire” Old Particular (Douglas Laing) is bottled un-chill-filtered at 54.3% ABV with no color added. It is available globally with a suggested retail price of $123 US.
Writers’ Tears Releases New Premium Edition Whiskey
Writers’ Tears Copper Pot Deau XO Cognac Cask Finish is the fourth expression released under the Writers’ Tears range. This whiskey is a premium edition of the brand’s main Copper Pot Irish whiskey, a blended whiskey made with no grain whiskey. The Copper Pot marque is a blend of aged single malts and aged single pot still whiskeys. In this case, the blended whiskey aged for an additional nine months in French oak casks. Those casks previously held Deau XO Cognac for 10-15 years.
The whiskey will be available in just eight markets worldwide including the US, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Canada, France and the UK. It is bottled at 46% ABV with a suggested retail price of $59.99 US.
Glengoyne Announces First New Global Release In Two Years
On February 18, 2019, Glengoyne will globally launch The Glengoyne Legacy Series: Chapter One 2019. The series will highlight the stories and people who have shaped the distillery’s history. Chapter One celebrates the distillery manager from 1869, Cochrane Cartwright. He slowed down the distillery’s distillation process to a third of the industry standard. Additionally, he first introduced sherry cask maturation to the distillery.
This no-age statement single malt matured in first-fill European oak oloroso sherry casks and refill barrels. It is bottled un-chill-filtered at 48% ABV with a suggested price of $71 US (£54.99) for a 700ml bottle.
Angel’s Envy Unveils First New Release Since 2013
It has been six years since Angel’s Envy released a new whiskey. Now, it has returned with a limited edition bourbon finished in oloroso sherry casks. Angel’s Envy Bourbon Finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks is aged from 4 to 9 years, then finished in the sherry casks for an additional 2 to 3 years.
A limited number of bottles will be available for purchase at the Angel’s Envy Distillery in downtown Louisville, KY. Beginning February 12, 2019, a limited number of reservations will be available through 500 Main, the Angel’s Envy membership platform. Then 72 hours later, the bourbon goes on sale to the general public on February 15, 2019 at 8am.
It is bottled at 50% ABV and only 3600 bottles were produced. In addition to the distillery, a few select Kentucky retailers will also have this for sale for $199.99.
This week seemed to be all about bourbon. From the news about the decade-long boom in the bourbon industry to the unveiling of Four Roses Small Batch Select, bourbon is riding high.