Distiller’s Friday Roundup – October 1, 2021By Amanda Schuster
Happy October, spirits fans! Did you remember to say “Rabbit! Rabbit!” for good luck? You may need some to get your paws on some of these incredible limited editions that were announced this week!
We begin in Kentucky, where Wild Turkey Master’s Keep One honors a combined 107 years of distilling between Eddie and Jimmy Russell.
In other American whiskey news, Luxco has announced the new Ross & Squibb Distillery label. Westward is adding a Cask Strength to its American single malt lineup. Additionally, Garrison Brothers has released another edition of its popular Cowboy Bourbon. Meanwhile, Sazerac is releasing Mister Sam, a blend combining Sazerac’s stocks of American and Canadian whiskeys. Also, High West has announced the latest release of A Midwinter Night’s Dram. And Woodford Chocolate Malt Whisper series is also making its debut.
Meanwhile, over in Scotland Master Blender Rachel Barrie continues to explore the unique history of Benriach with two new releases. Over on Islay, Bruichladdich has released the Octomore 12 Series. In other Scotch whisky news, the second edition of Douglas Laing Scallywag is out. And the multi-talented Questlove is teaming up with The Balvenie for what is sure to be a riveting series highlighting creative talents around the world.
There’s a bunch of new juice from Castle & Key with Roots of Ruin Harvest Seasonal Gin and Restoration Rye Batch 2 and 3. Also on the gin front, Cynthia Rowley and Gin Lane 1751 have teamed up to support breast cancer.
To give back to first responders, Proper No. Twelve and Dough Doughnuts now have limited-edition Irish Coffee Doughnuts.
And the Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry is finally in the states! Plus Slow & Low Coffee Old Fashioned is now out from Cooper Spirits.
Phew! Alright, let’s start with Wild Turkey.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep One Is a Tribute To Two Bourbon Legends
Master Distiller Eddie Russell has four decades of distilling experience which makes him a legend in his own right. But Eddie also had the privilege of growing up and learning the trade from his charming dad, the so-called “Buddha of Bourbon,” Jimmy Russell. This week, Eddie has introduced Master’s Keep One, a whiskey which combines the talents of the two Russell distillers responsible for a combined 107 years of experience at Wild Turkey Distilling Co. Significantly, this is the sixth limited-edition release in the Master’s Keep series celebrating the Russell family legacy.
“Wild Turkey’s heritage was built on family values, a love for whiskey-making, and an endless search for bold flavors,” says Eddie. “Master’s Keep One honors the tools, techniques and tradition that my father handed down, and is a culmination of our shared love of bourbon. Jimmy instilled in me the most rewarding lessons for success in work and life — passion and discipline — and I’ll always be grateful to him for setting me on this path 40 years ago.”
Through the years, Jimmy and Eddie’s distinct distilling perspectives have elevated the Wild Turkey brand. Master’s Keep One brings those two angles together. The whiskey combines Jimmy’s love of mid-aged bourbons (8 to 10 years) and Eddie’s admiration for more mature bourbons — in this case a 14-year-old. The whiskeys are blended for a second maturation in new oak barrels. Notably, the barrels were specially toasted and charred in one of Eddie’s favorite timber rickhouses, Tyrone G.
Master’s Keep One is bottled at 50.5% ABV and has an SRP of $175.
Luxco Rebrands Indiana Home Of Its Branded Spirits to Ross & Squibb Distillery
Luxco is renaming the 174-year-old, Lawrenceburg, Indiana distiller of its spirits to Ross & Squibb Distillery as it joins the Luxco portfolio.
Ross & Squibb Distillery pays tribute to Indiana’s distilling history and the pioneering distillers who earned Lawrenceburg, Indiana the name “Whiskey City USA”.
“Ross” is inspired by the legacy of George Ross, who founded the Rossville Distillery in 1847. It was the inspiration for the Rossville Union Straight Rye Whiskey brand.
“Squibb” refers to the Squibb Distillery, founded in 1869 in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. It was later purchased in 1921 by George Remus. He was the inspiration for the George Remus Straight Bourbon Whiskey brand.
Incidentally, MGP will continue to produce spirits from this facility under its current name: MGPI of Indiana for its customers.
Westward Whisky Releases Cask Strength, An Uncut American Single Malt
This week Westward Whiskey American Single Malt released an “unfettered”, barrel strength version of its original American Single Malt. Westward Cask Strength is the brand’s fourth permanent expression.
Cask Strength uses locally-malted barley grown in the Pacific Northwest. Also, the beer is produced in-house with classic ale yeast. Newly charred American oak barrels are used for maturation in its home state of Oregon.
“We’re thrilled to be expanding our flagship portfolio of whiskeys as we continually reimagine what single malts can be,” said Thomas Mooney, founder and CEO of Westward Whiskey. “We first introduced Cask Strength at the demand of our Oregon fans, and over the years, many of our visitors have reached out to ask how they can enjoy this whiskey at home. Today, we are excited to share it with both distillery visitors and whiskey enthusiasts across the country.”
Garrison Brothers Distillery Releases the 2021 Limited-Edition Cowboy Bourbon
Garrison Brothers Distillery has released the limited-edition Cowboy Bourbon. This is an uncut, unfiltered bourbon that comes from barrels selected by Master Distiller Donnis Todd. Those barrels are then set aside for several more years of maturation and the liquid is bottled at cask strength. This year’s Cowboy Bourbon batch comes in at 131.3 proof.
Garrison Brothers produced a total of 6,440 bottles this year. However, the distillery dedicated 1,000 bottles for a drive-through release event at its ranch in Hye, Texas on September 25. Those bottles sold out in less than two hours.
“The 2021 Cowboy Bourbon will make you reevaluate your circle of friends,” adds Todd.
The remaining 5,440 bottles will be distributed across the 42 states where Garrison Brothers is sold starting October 15. Cowboy Bourbon has an SRP of $229.99.
Mister Sam Blended Whiskey Releases This Fall
The Sazerac Company is releasing its second edition of “Mister Sam,” a blended whiskey expression composed of a selection of Sazerac’s American and Canadian whiskeys.
It was created by Sazerac’s Master Blender Drew Mayville to honor Sam Bronfman, or “Mister Sam,” as he was sometimes known. Incidentally, Mayville spent 22 years at Seagram’s as the fourth and final Master Blender under the Seagram label. Now living in Kentucky, Mayville had a pretty sweet selection of Sazerac American and Canadian whiskey stocks at his disposal while developing Mister Sam.
“Creating Mister Sam has been one of the highlights of my career,” said Mayville. “The second release is very evocative of the first, with the same bold and complex flavors, but I believe this blend to be even closer to perfect. We’ve blended it with whiskies that slightly softened the explosive finish to allow a greater enjoyment of the essence of the whiskey.”
This Mister Sam expression was bottled at Sazerac’s Old Montreal Distillery in Montreal, Quebec at 122.6 proof. It will be available only in the United States and Canada for an SRP of $249.99. It is packaged in an elegant wooden box and includes a copy of Sam Bronfman’s 1970 book “From Little Acorns” about the history of the Seagram’s company.
Benriach Releases Malting Season and Smoke Season Single Malts
Benriach Single Malt Scotch whisky has announced the US debut of two expressions that pay tribute to time-honored Scotch whisky making traditions that date back to the earliest days of the Speyside distillery. Malting Season is the first expression in a century to be produced entirely from barley malted from the distillery’s floor maltings. Smoke Season is a small batch release from seasonal production techniques using peat. These will be available in limited quantities in select markets.
Fun fact: There was a time when Benriach was working solely as a contract distillery while otherwise closed. It remained in operation through floor malting and producing peated whiskies for other distilleries.
About Benriach Malting Season
The first edition of Benriach Malting Season is made from the distillery’s floor-malted spirit. For each new edition of Malting Season, Master Blender Rachel Barrie selects a specific type of barley and bottling strength — this time it’s Concerto barley — thus making each annual edition a unique expression. It is matured in a combination of bourbon and virgin oak casks, bottled at 48.7% ABV.
“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with Benriach being one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting,” said Barrie.
About Benriach Smoke Season
Benriach Smoke Season is a small batch bottling of the distillery’s seasonal production run, during which peated spirit passes through its stills. This represents a tradition revived by the distillery over 50 years ago. The spirit uses 100% Highland peated malt from a recipe well-tweaked by Barrie and is batch distilled. Then it matured in first-fill bourbon barrels combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American virgin oak casks. It is bottled at 52.8% ABV.
Bruichladdich Octomore 12 Series Launches October 1
Release the peat! This is the 12th series of Bruichladdich Distillery’s most experimental, high peat expressions, which clock in over 100 PPM. The trifecta will be available in specialist retail stores starting October, 2021.
12.1 comes in at 130.8 PPM and is bottled at 59.9% ABV. It is distilled from mainland Scottish barley and matured in ex-bourbon American oak for 5 years. The SRP is $199.99.
12.2 is bottled at 129.7 PPM and 57.3% ABV. It spends 3.5 years in ex-bourbon American oak casks and 18 months in ex-Sauternes. The SRP is $234.99.
12.3 weighs in at 118.1 PPM and is bottled at 62.1% ABV. It is a single vintage, single field, single malt, made from Islay-grown barley raised in Church Field on Octomore Farm.
75% of the distillate was filled into ex-American oak casks, while the remaining 25% spent five years maturing in Pedro Ximenez Solera casks for a total of 5 years. The SRP is $259.99.
The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Questlove Announce Quest for Craft: Season One
October 28 is the launch of Season One of Quest for Craft, a new digital series exploring where craft and creativity meet. It is hosted by musician, author and filmmaker Questlove. Watch the series trailer HERE.
The series was filmed in the New York City’s legendary Electric Lady Studios, and centers around conversation between Questlove and GRAMMY Award winning music producer Jimmy Jam; SNL comedian Michael Che; modern rock icon Patti Smith; and author Malcolm Gladwell.
Quest for Craft stems from a multi-year partnership between The Balvenie and Questlove as an extension of The Balvenie’s global campaign, The Makers Project, highlighting exceptional creative individuals around the world.
“I share a synergistic passion with The Balvenie on the importance of inspiration, passion and dedication to creativity and the making process,” said Questlove. “Our partnership is founded on an exploration into creative minds that invest their time, focus, and soul and into creating something singular and distinctive. Quest for Craft is about the pursuit of ultimate craftsmanship. In each episode, I dive deep into conversation with creatives who I have admired for their unique perspective, process, and productivity.”
The Balvenie and Questlove /Photo Credit: The Balvenie
University of the Arts Scholarship Program
In addition, The Balvenie and Questlove are supporting emerging creative pursuits with an opportunity for an aspiring maker to be awarded a three-year scholarship through a University of the Arts, Philadelphia beginning in June of 2022. It is open to one person, from anywhere in the United States, they feel is most eligible for the opportunity to undertake the university’s “PhD in Creativity.”
The winning candidate will be selected by Questlove, in partnership with The Balvenie and the University of the Arts. The scholarship program is open to anyone over the age of 21 from now through November 15th, 2021. Visit The University of the Arts website for more details.
Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey Announced Limited-Run Irish Coffee Doughnuts In Partnership With Dough Doughnuts
Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, founded by multiple weight MMA champion Conor McGregor, is celebrating National First Responders Day (10/28) with doughnuts made with the whiskey. Two doughnuts were created with partner Dough Doughnuts: The Proper Irish Coffee Cream-Filled ($5.75 each or $45 per half dozen) and The Proper Irish Coffee Glazed ($5.50 each and $43 per half dozen).
These limited-time offerings will be available through October until National First Responders Day at Dough’s locations throughout New York City and nationwide through Dough’s website.
A portion of proceeds benefits The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, for which they have already raised a total of $1.9 million in donations to date. Proper Irish Coffee Doughnut sales will go to the organization to help pay the mortgages for families of law enforcement officers and firefighters across the country killed in the line of duty.
Castle & Key Announces Roots of Ruin Harvest Seasonal Gin and Restoration Rye Batch 2 & 3
Castle & Key Distillery has announced the release of Roots of Ruin Harvest Seasonal Gin, the 5th seasonal gin from Castle & Key. The distillery will also release the next two batches, 2 and 3, in its Restoration Rye 2021 series.
Roots of Ruin Harvest Seasonal Gin
This seasonal gin features juniper, coriander, angelica root and cedar leaf with autumnal flavors of pine, berries and sweet spices. It also includes star anise, sumac, fennel and bay leaf — botanicals which have never previously been used in Castle & Key seasonal releases. The distillate is made from a mash bill of 17% yellow corn, 63% rye and 20% malted barley. The SRP is $36.99.
Restoration Rye 2021 Batch 2 & 3
Batch #2 ($42.99 SRP) comes from a blend of 75 barrels, and Batch #3 ( $42.99 SRP) from 70 barrels. During the blending process, barrels are grouped according to specific sensory profiles, then blended to achieve specific flavor profiles. The mash bill for both is 17% yellow corn, 63% rye and 20% malted barley.
Cynthia Rowley and Gin Lane 1751 Announce New Partnership To Support Breast Cancer Research
Global lifestyle brand Cynthia Rowley has announced a partnership with Gin Lane 1751, with the goal of producing new products that will benefit breast cancer care and research charities. The collaboration is kicking off with the ‘Victoria’ Pink Bottle Clutch. The product launch coincides with Gin Lane 1751’s annual fundraising campaign for The Pink Agenda. More is to come later in the fall.
“Gin has been my spirit cocktail of choice for some time, so when I came across Gin Lane 1751’s ‘Victoria’ Pink Gin I couldn’t believe all the things I love were in one bottle,” said Cynthia Rowley. “It’s a sophisticated classic that can be dressed up or down with fresh fruit, mixers, or just good, clean, fun on the rocks. I’m elated we are able to support the brand’s fundraising efforts for The Pink Agenda.”
The design of Cynthia Rowley x Gin Lane 1751 ‘Victoria’ Pink Bottle Clutch is a nod to the gin’s botanicals, fresh fruits and herbs. Emblazoned with “More Gin Please,” it can also be used as an evening purse.
The Cynthia Rowley x Gin Lane 1751 ‘Victoria’ Pink Gin and Bottle Clutch are sold together at the Gin Lane 1751 website and select retailers with an SRP of $37.99.
Luxardo Unveils Special Reserve Maraschino Dry
This year is Luxardo’s 200th anniversary, and to celebrate, the storied Italian family-owned distillery is releasing Maraschino Perla Dry, a limited-edition bicentenary reserve recipe of its iconic Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. This will be the first time Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry will be available in the US. Significantly, the special reserve recipe was last produced in the 1970s.
Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry is considered the most prestigious product in its range, made from a marasca cherry distillate base that’s more than 50 years old. It is distilled to a higher proof than the original Maraschino recipe, also with reduced sugar content, intended to be enjoyed neat.
The limited edition Luxardo Maraschino Perla Dry is packaged in an eco-friendly leather gift box containing a Luxardo history booklet and a 200th-anniversary pin. It is bottled at 40% ABV.
Production was limited to 4,999 bottles, with 1,000 reserved for the US. Availability will begin at specialty stores across the US in November with a SRP of $200.
Tidbits From Around the Spirits World
Let’s take a quick look at what else is going on in the spirits world.
High West Releases A Midwinter’s Dram Act 9
High West Distillery has unveiled the ninth limited edition of A Midwinter Night’s Dram.
“A Midwinter Night’s Dram is easily our most anticipated limited release blend of the year. It’s High West’s Rendezvous Rye finished in both Ruby and Tawny Port barrels for an additional 1 to 2 years,” said Master Distiller Brendan Coyle. “This year’s release, Act 9, provides notes of dark fig and blackberry layered over that wonderful spice character that great Ryes have to offer. We recommend sipping this spirit neat to experience its many layers of complexity.”
A Midwinter Night’s Dram Act 9 is bottled at 49.3% ABV and will be available for purchase beginning October 1st. However, availability is limited to the High West General Store in Old Town Park City and at High West Distillery in Wanship, Utah. The SRP is $99.99.
Woodford Reserve Releases Chocolate Malt Whisper Distillery Series
Woodford Reserve has released a new limited-edition bottle that is, according to the press release, “the result of a happy accident at the distillery that ended up producing bourbon with a whisper of chocolate notes.”
Chocolate Malt Whisper is a Kentucky straight bourbon that was produced immediately after the production of the spirit that was later released as the Master’s Collection Chocolate Malted Rye. Flavor attributes of that Malted Rye carried over in the distillate of the next batch of bourbon, enhancing chocolate notes in the resulting bourbon.
“Sometimes unforeseen developments occur in the distillery that result in great flavors,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris. “This is one of those cases.”
Chocolate Malt Whisper is part of the annual Distillery Series, with each selection curated by Morris & Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall. It is bottled at 90.4 proof and packaged in 375ml bottles. It has an SRP of $49.99 and is available at the Woodford Reserve Distillery’s gift shop and select Kentucky retailers.
Douglas Laing’s Scallywag Reveals Second Winter Limited Edition
Distiller, blender and bottler Douglas Laing & Co has unveiled the second Scallywag Cask Strength Winter Limited Edition bottling, limited to just 4,200 bottles globally. It was matured exclusively in a combination of oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry butts. Bottled at a cask strength of 53.1% ABV, there is no added coloring or chill filtration.
Each bottle of the Speyside Malt brand is presented with a mini, Santa-like woolen hat.
Cooper Spirits Announces “Slow & Low Coffee Old-Fashioned” in Partnership with Intelligentsia Coffee
Cooper Spirits Co. has announced Slow & Low Coffee Old-Fashioned, the first-ever expansion of its iconic Slow & Low brand. The new expression, available this fall, is inspired by Café Brûlot, the classic coffee drink from New Orleans, where the Slow & Low brand first launched. It is produced in partnership with pioneering coffee maker Intelligentsia Coffee.
Slow & Low Coffee Old-Fashioned contains a blend of straight rye whiskey aged for 2 years, plus Intelligentsia Cold Coffee made from a blend of coffees from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Peru, as well as raw honey, demerara cane sugar, aromatic bitters and orange peel. It is bottled at 40% ABV and has an SRP of $26.99.
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