Distiller’s Friday Roundup – March 27, 2020By Stephanie Moreno
While this week has been a bit quiet on the new release front—as expected—there are a few to share. Peat freaks will be especially excited for the latest Ardbeg release. The Islay whisky brand has released Ardbeg Wee Beastie, a much anticipated five year-old single malt. Notably, it’s a permanent addition to the core lineup. Equally exciting is the latest release in Lux Row Distillers’ Blood Oath series.
And while the coronavirus crisis continues to affect hospitality workers financially, there are a growing number of spirit brands ready to assist. We’ll keep you posted on that front as we hear about them. As for other news, we’re still tracking the list of distilleries producing hand sanitizer. You can check that out to find one in your area. Feel free to add any we’ve missed.
Certainly where we began this month is quite a bit different than where we ended. But it’s been great to see the spirits world doing its part to assist during this crisis. Without any further ado, here’s the Distiller Friday Roundup for March 27, 2020.
Ardbeg Wee Beastie Added to Brand’s Permanent Lineup
Launched in April 2020, Ardbeg Wee Beastie is a permanent addition to the brand’s core line of single malt whiskies. It is aged for 5 years in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks and bottled without chill-filtration at 47.4% ABV. It is described as a “monster of a dram”.
“I’m in no doubt that Ardbeggians will love this tongue-tingling expression,” said Ardbeg’s Director of Whisky Creation Dr. Bill Lumsden. “The casks chosen for its creation make it ideal for enjoying neat or as the mouth-watering main ingredient in a powerfully smoky cocktail.”
Lux Row Distillers’ Announces Blood Oath Pact No. 6
Blood Oath Bourbon Pact No. 6 is a blend of Kentucky straight bourbons crafted by Lux Row Distillers’ Head Distiller and Master Blender John Rempe who launched the series in 2015. Pact No. 6 uses three high-rye bourbons—a 14-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 7-year-old finished in cognac barrels. Only 17,000 cases are available globally as of spring 2020.
DISCUS Creates COVID-19 Hand Sanitizer Online Portal
Last week we told you about the growing number of distilleries around the world producing hand sanitizer to assist with the coronavirus pandemic. This week, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has announced the creation of an online portal to assist those distillers in this endeavor. Distillers are encouraged to add their brand’s name to the site. They will also be able to request help with ingredients or equipment.
“This new portal will serve as an important resource for the hundreds of distillers who are stepping up to produce sanitizer,” says Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the DISCUS. “This is not only the right thing to do for their communities, but it also allows some of these craft distilleries to keep their stills going, maintain their employees and stay afloat during this crisis. Further, we are coordinating closely with the federal COVID-19 task force as part of the nation’s collective efforts to fight COVID-19.”
Four Roses Suspends Operations
While Four Roses had already suspended its tours and tastings at Four Roses Distillery along with its warehouse and bottling facilities, it has now temporarily stopped distillery operations as of March 20, 2020. The distillery will continue to assess the situation, but for now the operations are expected to resume on Monday, April 6, 2020.
“We have made these decisions keeping the health of our employees and our communities foremost in our minds,” said Ryan Ashley, chief operating officer at Four Roses.
Four Roses Warehouse and Bottling Facility /Photo Credit: Four Roses
More Spirits Brands Supporting the Hospitality Industry
There is a growing number of spirit companies assisting those in the hospitality industry who have been affected by the closure of businesses during this crisis. Expect more brands to join in, and consider making a donation yourself.
Bacardi Limited announced an initiative to support bars and restaurants affected by the shutdown due to COVID-19. Called #RaiseYourSpirits, the spirits company has pledged a $3 million donation to those in financial need. Some of the organizations the brand is working with include Another Round, Another Rally; CORE; the James Beard Foundation; Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation; and Tales of the Cocktail.
Louisville, KY based Brown-Forman company has pledged $1 million dollars to various organizations including the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and the USBG Foundation Emergency Relief Fund. Additionally, they are assisting One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund.
Heaven Hill Brands
Heaven Hill Brands has made a $400,000 donation to various charities. As the brand has facilities in the US, Canada and Ireland, it is making contributions to local charities to support the communities. These organizations include:
Louisville, KY – One Louisville
Bardstown, KY – Tri-County United Way
Austin, Texas – Stand with Austin
Lethbridge, Canada – United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta
Dublin, Ireland – Community Foundation of Ireland
Tito’s Vodka has announced a $2 million donation to organizations currently assisting during the pandemic crisis. The Austin, Texas based brand has said that $1 million will be immediately available to four organizations focused on the service industry: CORE, USBG Foundation Emergency Relief Fund, Southern Smoke and World Central Kitchen.
Bushmills Irish Whiskey
Bushmills has pledged $100,000 to the USBG Foundation Emergency Relief Fund and will match all donations up to an additional $100,000. You can check out a message from master distiller Colum Egan here.
More New Releases
Here are a couple of other whiskies to seek out.
Douglas Laing Releases Invergordon “Easter Edition” Old Particular
Released in spring 2020, Invergordon 22 Year is from Douglas Laing’s Old Particular line. This Easter Edition bottling is a single cask release with just 155 bottles available via the brand’s website. Distilled in May 1997, the single grain whisky matured for 22 years in a refill barrel. It was bottled in March 2020 at a cask strength of 48.9% with no chill filtration or color added.
Umiki Whisky, Ocean Influenced Blend Debuts
Umiki Whisky is a blended whisky made with “local ocean side malt whiskies” and grain whiskies from other countries (not disclosed). It is a no-age statement release which uses desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean in its creation. Finished in Japanese pine barrels, the whisky comes in at 92 proof.
As for its name origins, “umi” is Japanese for “ocean” and “ki” is Japanese for “tree.” The whisky is available in the US and Asia beginning April 2020 with other global markets to follow in May 2020.
Already have Ardbeg Wee Beastie in your wishlist?
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