Distiller’s Friday Roundup – May 7, 2021By Amanda Schuster
Derby and Cinco down, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day to go! May is off to a roaring start, as the weather heats up and the pandemic restrictions ease amid vaccinations. This also means that some spirits releases which had been held back have finally been set free. This week saw the announcement that we’ll finally see (and taste) that Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye — aka the GWAR Rye — in all its glory! We also get a glimpse of the latest Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon and a rare treat from Midleton. Plus High West gets artsy, Berkshire Mountain Distillers gets beery, A. Smith Bowman gets caffeinated, and New Riff gets malty.
Also, BenRiach opens up to visitors, and speaking of, Heaven Hill gives us a taste of the Evan Williams Experience. Then there’s news from SKYY Vodka and new tequila to taste because after all, we don’t just drink it on Cinco. Then there’s the first bourbon from Happenstance to watch out for. And just in time for summer sipping sessions, there are new Jim Beam RTD highballs!
Wait, wasn’t it March that was supposed to come in like a lion?
Catoctin Creek Distilling Company and GWAR Will Finally Release Ragnarök Rye on May 28!!!
Catoctin Creek “WAS excited to partner with GWAR to release their infamous Ragnarök Rye this past February … but then the monster metal rock band drank it … all of it,” according to a press release.
“We knew working with GWAR on this whisky would be troublesome, but we didn’t realize it would be this troublesome,” said Catoctin Creek founder and general manager, Scott Harris. “Usually, we have the production process under control, but this time the band members drank everything we distilled, and then demanded we create bottle toppers using rare metal ore sourced from the fillings of trolls,” continues Harris. “I knew our original schedule was shot. I mean, it’s really cool to have rare metal in our bottle design, but it was hard rounding up all those trolls.”
However, Ragnarök Rye will be here on May 28! Each bottle of the GWAR Rye comes with a cast-metal collectable bottle topper featuring each of the band’s five members: Blóthar the Berserker; Balsac the Jaws of Death; Jizmak da Gusha; Beefcake the Mighty; and Pustulus Maximus.
Thrilled with the release, lead singer Blóthar the Berserker offered his enthusiastic endorsement, “If whisky is liquid sunshine, this rye is a scorching alien sun.”
Up to 200 cases of Ragnarök Rye will be available throughout Catoctin Creek’s national distribution footprint beginning Friday, May 28 for $99, with more on the way soon. It will also be on sale in the distillery’s online store for curbside pickup or direct shipping in Virginia only. For more information, please visit the distillery’s website here.
An Exclusive Whiskies of the World Discount Code
Our friends at Whiskies of the World are gifting you an exclusive $15 off full price discount code for their upcoming May 27th at-home tasting experience, called W.O.W Them At Home.
Uncover your favorite American Single Malts in this 1 hour virtual masterclass led by 10 of the top craft distillers and whiskey experts across the United States. Your ticket also comes with 10 sipping samples in a souvenir box along with a tasting glass (shipping included). Full price tickets are $85 but with our exclusive code tickets are $70. The code is active until May 16th, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST and applies to all Whiskies of the World virtual events.
Enter this code at checkout to receive your discount: distiller
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Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon 2021 Released Soon
This week Michter’s announced the 2021 release of its 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon. At 94.4 proof it has an SRP of $150 here in the U.S and is being shipped out this month. “This release is a really full bodied, special bourbon,” says Michter’s master distiller Dan McKee.
The barrel from which it was drawn was stored in Michter’s heat-cycled warehouses. “When we heat cycle, it increases the interaction between the whiskey and the wood allowing us to extract more character from the barrel resulting in a truly rich and exceptional whiskey that is not overly oaked,” stated Michter’s Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson.
Second Chapter In The Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Is Unveiled
May 2021 sees the launch of Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Chapter Two, the second release in Ireland’s oldest ever whiskey collection.
The Silent Distillery Collection is a collection of six releases from Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork, Ireland. The series began in 2020 and goes until 2025, with whiskeys ranging in age from 45 to 50 years old. These are all from the original Old Midleton Distillery which operated from 1825-1975.
Only 70 bottles of this rare Irish whiskey were produced. These bottles are among the last of the single pot still style for quite some time before it fell out of fashion for at least 25 years. We can perhaps credit Master Distiller Max Crockett for sticking to his love of the single pot still style in the 1970s, paving the way for its boom decades later.
Distilled in reportedly the world’s largest copper pot still, Chapter Two was aged for an unprecedented 46 years. It was initially filled in a selection of sherry and bourbon casks for over 20 years. Then the whiskeys were married and recasked into refill bourbon casks under the guardianship of Barry Crockett, master distiller and son of Max. Years later, the whiskey was recasked into newly arrived port pipes and once again laid down until deemed ready. The whiskey finished maturation in a refill bourbon cask, and its final journey is credited to distillers Brian Nation (master distiller 2013 – 2020) and Kevin O’Gorman (current master distiller).
The single pot still whiskey is aged for 46 years and scheduled for release later in the month. It has an SRP of €40,000, £38,000, $45,000 and will be available in Ireland, UK, Global Travel Retail, US and France.
An Artsy Rendezvous for High West
Rendezvous Rye is one of the most popular annual bottlings from Park City Utah’s High West Distillery. This year the label on the limited release features custom artwork by Ed Mell, known for his iconic renderings of the Western landscape. “In keeping with the essence of the original High West labels, Ed crafted the new Rendezvous Rye label to reflect a New West, Meets Old West aesthetic, boasting warm earth tones and a contemporary-inspired cowboy scene,” says the press release.
This limited-edition is also notable because it kicks off the transition of this flagship whiskey to a seasonal release. Rendezvous Rye has evolved over the years to include more of High West’s pot still rye in the blend of straight rye whiskeys to bring more depth of flavor than in previous releases.
Available as of May 3, the spirit can be purchased locally at High West General Store in Old Town Park City, High West Distillery on Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, Utah, or state liquor stores for $69.99 per bottle. The bottle will be available nationwide in store and online by the end of May.
Benriach Announced Opening of New Visitor’s Center
Benriach Distillery, located in Scotland’s Speyside region, is gearing up to welcome visitors through the doors of its first official visitor’s center next month following the completion of a six-figure investment project.
The center will include a bar, a tasting lounge and a retail space. It’s set to open on Friday, May 21, 2021. “Initially offering a variety of flavour-focused tastings following the easing of Scotland’s COVID-19 restrictions, visitors will be encouraged to discover Benriach’s multi-layered single malt and rich creative heritage dating back to 1898,” says the press release.
Initially the new visitor center will offer two tasting experiences. The “Sense of Flavour” tasting will delve into the production process at Benriach. This tasting also features the distillery’s classic and smoky expressions at 10 and 12 years old. There will also be cocktails served.
“Additionally, a deconstructed cask tasting will be on offer for those who wish to dive deeper into the distillery’s creative heritage of eclectic cask maturation,” says the release. “The ‘Barrels, Butts and Barriques’ experience will offer visitors the chance to taste five individual cask types, culminating in a tasting of the Benriach 21 Year Old — showcasing how Benriach’s Master Blender Rachel Barrie builds rich layers of flavor in a range of fruit-forward single malts.”
Visitors are required to pre-book their preferred tasting online before attending the distillery, which will open initially on a weekly basis from Friday – Sunday, 10:30AM – 5:00PM. Distillery tours of the production site will return when it is safe to do so.
For more information about the new Benriach Visitor Center and how to book a tasting experience, visit their website here.
Benriach Visitor’s Center /Photo Credit: Benriach
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Heaven Hill Distillery Unveils First Bottled Bourbon From the Distillery At Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
Heaven Hill Distillery has launched Square 6, the first bottled bourbon produced at the distillery located in the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville, Ky. Square 6 refers to the original plot of land where Evan Williams built Kentucky’s first commercial distillery in 1783. This location also shares the same block on Louisville’s Whiskey Row where the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience first opened in 2013. This is the first product to launch from this facility where one barrel per day is produced under Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau.
Square 6 is a high-rye bourbon consisting of 52% corn, 35% rye and 13% malted barley — a new recipe for the distillery. The bourbon was aged for 5 years before being bottled at 95 proof. It will be released in a 750ml, stylized, squared-off glass bottle with the face label depicting the original map where Evan Williams’ distillery was originally located. The packaging also includes Evan Williams’ signature and the product recipe. The limited release will be available in small quantities as a unique offering at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and select Kentucky retailers. It has an SRP of $89.99.
Severo, Authentic Mexican Tequila Brand Launches in US
From Tequilera Don Roberto, and imported by San Francisco’s Hotaling & Co., Severo debuts its 100% blue Weber agave tequila in four expressions — Plata, Reposado, Añejo and Cristalino. It is now available for purchase in-store and online at retailers in California and New Jersey. It will be rolling out to additional states and nationwide later this year.
“Created in homage to the centuries’ old history of true tequila, Severo is for tequila sipping experts and mixologists alike, as well as everyday Americans who know where good taste lies,” said Miguel Rivas, brand co-owner and co-creator at Severo. “We’re excited to introduce this Mexican tradition to U.S. tequila drinkers.”
Tequilera Don Roberto was established in 1924, and is one of two remaining Mexican-owned heritage tequila businesses and is still owned and operated within the founder’s family. The recipe dates back 100 years and has been traced to the original distillery.
Each bottle is hand-dated, numbered and packaged in an artisan-crafted bottle. Each expression is 40% ABV and priced at $49.99, $59.99, $69.99 and $79.99 in order from Plata to Cristalino.
SKYY Vodka Unveils Updated Expression Made From Water Enriched With Pacific Minerals
The brand’s global relaunch includes a new pack design and liquid refresh “formulated to enhance the vodka + soda,” according to the press release.
“In formulating this refresh, SKYY recognized an opportunity to enhance its liquid for a new generation of vodka drinkers who gravitate towards soda water as their go-to mixer. And so, what began as one man’s mission to create the perfect martini has evolved to include the pursuit of a better vodka +soda.”
To do this, SKYY explored the naturally occurring elements found in the coastal waters surrounding San Francisco, searching for the qualities the water enriched with minerals sourced from the San Francisco Bay Area could bring to freshen the vodka sipping experience (hint: salinity and minerality).
SKYY then brought together a diverse collective of experts including chemists, professional bartenders and a water sommelier to achieve the final product.
The package refresh is also inspired by the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay. SKYY Vodka is available at retailers nationwide for a suggested retail price of $12.99 (750 ml).
Tidbits from Around the Spirits World
Let’s take a quick look at what else is going on around the world this week…
New Riff Distilling Expands Portfolio With 6-year-old Malted Rye Whiskey
New Riff Distilling announced a new Malted Rye Whiskey that is bottled-in-bond and non-chill-filtered. As a continued exploration of the rye category, it’s made with 100% malted rye grain and aged six years. New Riff Malted Rye Whiskey will initially be released in Kentucky, followed by wider distribution by the end of 2021. The suggested retail price is $59.99.
Yay, Jim Beam Highballs As RTD!!!!
Jim Beam is launching two ready-to-drink cocktails made with a bourbon base. The Jim Beam Classic Highball combines Jim Beam Bourbon, bubbly seltzer and a hint of citrus. Meanwhile the Jim Beam Ginger Highball combines Jim Beam Bourbon and ginger ale. Both are inspired by classic Jim Beam highball serves.
The RTDs are 5% ABV each and available as a four pack or as single 355ml slender cans at select retailers nationwide. The Classic Highball and Ginger Highball have an SRP of $9.99 for a four pack and $2.50 for a single can.
A. Smith Bowman To Release Cane and Coffee As the Latest In Its Experimental Range
Cane and Coffee is the latest release in the A. Smith Bowman Distillery Experimental Collection. “This cane spirit originated in 2017, when a blend of black strap molasses and evaporated cane juice was co-fermented with a custom selection of roasted coffee, then additional coffee beans were added to the botanical basket of the still and the coffee bean essences were vapor extracted in the recovered spirit. The spirit was then left to rest in used bourbon barrels,” says the press release.
The A. Smith Bowman Experimental Cane and Coffee will only be available through the A. Smith Bowman Distillery gift shop, both online and in-person. Online shipping is available to Virginia residents only. Bottles are packaged in 375mL (90 Proof) for $29.99. Fans can expect this limited-edition cane spirit with natural coffee flavors to be available after May 1st, 2021.
Berkshire Mountain Distillers Releases Spring Edition of its Craft Brewers Whiskey Project
This month, as part of the Craft Brewers Whiskey Project, Berkshire Mountain Distillers (BMD) is releasing three whiskeys sourced from beers from Samuel Adams, Jack’s Abby and Berkshire Brewing Company.
A dozen different beers from a limited collection of Northeast craft brewers will be distilled for this 5 year collaboration. Each addition is blended to 86 proof using BMD’s proprietary spring water source and packaged in custom bottles with brewer-designed labels.
Whiskies will be sold in the BMD tasting room and then released to select stores throughout 2021. Available now in the BMD tasting room, this whiskey release highlights Boston Lager from Samuel Adams, Berkshire Brewing Company’s Imperial Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale and Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers’ Smoke & Dagger Black Lager.
The first release of whiskeys in this series were distilled from beers brewed by Massachusetts Bay Brewing Co., Spencer Brewery and Big Elm Brewing.
Happenstance Founder’s Edition Straight Bourbon Launches
Happenstance, a Nashville-based, female-owned brand launched its Founder’s Edition straight bourbon with a unique bottle design. Blended and bottled in Nashville, Happenstance is 45 % ABV and has an SRP of $55.99 per 750 mL. Online ordering will be available for the Nashville market later this month. Additionally, Happenstance is currently available at select Nashville liquor stores, bars and restaurants. The bourbon will be coming soon to additional US markets.
Ready to grab a bottle of the GWAR Rye?
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