Distiller’s Friday Roundup – September 24, 2021

September 24, 2021

Happy autumn, spirits fans! The season is breezing in with a few of the year’s most anticipated releases as well as some fun brand extensions you won’t want to miss.

We begin all the way up in Orkney, where Highland Park Viking Heart 15 Year has now joined the distillery’s permanent lineup. Also in Scotland, The Macallan has unveiled its luxe 30 Year Double Cask. Peat heads can also look forward to Big Peat Christmas 2021 limited edition.

On the American single malt front, Westland Garryana 6th Edition is finally here!

Bourbon aficionados can finally get their hands on Maker’s Mark FAE-02, the second wood finishing release for 2021. Also, Elijah Craig’s newest Barrel Proof is hitting shelves, as is Kentucky Peerless Double Oak bourbon. Meanwhile, Barrell Craft Spirits has announced a partnership with The Ocean Foundation.

Additionally, the “ultra premium” tequila category is getting two new entries this month: Don Julio Ultima Reserve celebrates 80 years of the brand and celebrity Eva Longoria releases her Casa Del Sol tequila label.

If you’re concerned about bee populations (and you should be), Barr Hill Gin’s 2021 Bee’s Knees Week supporting pollinator charities is starting this week. Also, how much do you like gin and pickles? We ask, because Hendrick’s Gin and Katz’s Delicatessen now have gin-inspired pickles.

In rum news, the US is seeing its first ever expression of South African rum with Holmes Cay’s South Africa Mhoba 2017.

But first, let’s fly on over to the tip of Scotland and check in with Highland Park. Slàinte!

Highland Park Viking Heart Launched Globally

Orkney-based distillery Highland Park has launched a new 15-year-old single malt to its permanent collection. Called Highland Park Viking Heart, the Scotch whisky will be available starting this month.

For the expression, Highland Park Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion selected a high percentage of first-fill European-oak sherry-seasoned casks along with first-fill American-oak sherry-seasoned casks.

“Our insistence on specially constructed sherry casks delivers a richness of flavor,” says Motion. “Vanilla and citrus notes lead and combine with the unique fragrant peat and creamy mouthfeel synonymous with Highland Park. The hand selection of quality first-fill and refill casks for Highland Park 15 Year Old delivers a rich color which is 100% natural.”

Highland Park Viking Heart 15 year is bottled at 44% ABV. Surprisingly, it’s presented in a heavily embossed ceramic bottle, which was created in partnership with UK-based Wade Ceramics. The design is inspired by the earthenware vessels the whisky would have been stored in centuries ago at the distillery.

Highland Park Viking Heart 15 Year will be available to purchase for an SRP of $110 from specialist whisky retailers. However, US customers will need to wait until late October/early November to see Viking Heart bottles hit shelves.

Highland Park Viking Heart 15 Year /Photo Credit: Highland Park

Westland Distillery Announces the 6th Edition Of Garryana American Single Malt

Next month, Westland will release the sixth edition of its Garryana American Single Malt. This release is a continuation of Westland’s exploration of Quercus garryana, the rare oak indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. It is matured in a combination of that oak, along with ex-brandy and ex-sherry casks. Only 5,922 bottles will be released globally.

“Garry Oak continues to be an exploration,” says Westland Master Blender Shane Armstrong. “Each release builds on principles learned from past iterations. The Brandy casks give a bright filter to the oak’s savory spice, while refill PX fills the seams with darker fruits. Both influence without obstructing the Garry Oak signature.”

In addition to expressing a particular provenance with whiskey maturation, Garryana is an entirely new species of oak to the world of whiskey. In fact, Westland built an entire economy for sourcing this rare and protected oak, using already-fallen trees for the casks.

Westland Garryana Edition 6 American Single Malt is bottled at 50% ABV with an SRP of $149.99.

Westland Garryana Edition 6 American Single Malt /Photo Credit: Westland

The Macallan Unveils Double Cask 30 Year

This week, The Macallan announced the release of Double Cask 30 Year as part of its Double Cask range.

The Double Cask series is aged in a combination of European oak from northern Spain and southern France, as well as new oak from Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky that is transported to Spain. Both types of wood were transformed into casks and toasted over an open-air fire in the cooperages of Jerez before being filled with sherry and left to season for up to 18 months.

Once seasoned, the casks were brought to The Macallan Estate in Speyside and filled with new-make spirit. After 30 years of aging, the best from both casks were each selected for Double Cask.

“The Macallan Double Cask 30 Years Old is a modern take on our classic 30 year-old and is an exceptional aged single malt, “ said Kirsteen Campbell, The Macallan Master Whisky Maker. “The Macallan Double Cask brings together sherry-seasoned American and European oak casks to create the perfect balance of flavors. It is the oak that gives the whisky its natural color and is the single greatest contributor to the quality, distinctive aromas and flavors.”

The Macallan Double Cask 30 Year is bottled at 43% ABV. Packaged in a solid oak presentation box, it’s available globally starting this month for an SRP of $4,000.

The Macallan Double Cask 30 Year /Photo Credit: The Macallan

Maker’s Mark Introduces Limited Release FAE-02, Completing Two-Part Set of 2021 Wood Finishes

Maker’s Mark has debuted the latest entry in its Wood Finishing Series: FAE-02. The distillery’s newest stave-finished bourbon is the second of 2021 limited edition releases. According to the press release, this one is crafted to be a “texturally rich, softer complement to spring’s FAE-01.”

Maker’s Mark does not chill filter its whisky. As a result, this preserves depth of flavor by leaving naturally present fatty acid esters (FAEs) in its whisky. FAE-02 is produced using double-heat-treated virgin French oak barrel staves (FAE-01 uses American oak staves) that undergo an infrared exposure prior to a flame toast finish.

“Our first 2021 release was crafted to hit you in the face with big, bold aroma and flavor, just like standing in a barrel warehouse — wood, tobacco and spicy dried fruit,” says Jane Bowie, director of innovation at Maker’s Mark. “With FAE-02, we wanted to explore the softer side of our 2021 taste vision by placing more of the focus on rich, consistent texture and tone that stems from fatty acid esters. Just like the things we find so comforting about artisanal butters, olive oils and creamy spreads, FAE-02 delivers a fattier, full-bodied, mature Maker’s Mark bourbon that makes for an ideal sip on a Fall evening.”

Wood Finishing Series: FAE-02 /Photo Credit: Maker’s Mark

More On the Stave-Finishing Process

Like all Wood Finishing Series offerings, FAE-02 is made by finishing fully-matured, cask strength Maker’s Mark in secondary barrels fitted with the proprietary wood staves. The barrels are stored in Maker’s Mark’s limestone cellar for additional aging, giving the cask strength bourbon a chance to interact with the wood staves.

FAE-02 is bottled at 109.1 proof and is rolling out now in limited quantities. The SRP is $59.99.

Both FAE-02 and FAE-01 will also be included in the September shipment of The Whisky Drop. This new direct-to-consumer program from Maker’s Mark is available in very limited quantities in Kentucky and Washington D.C.

Barrell Craft Spirits Proudly Supports the Ocean Foundation

Independent bottler and blender Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS) has announced a collaboration with The Ocean Foundation featuring Barrell Seagrass. Launched earlier this year, Barrell Seagrass is a blend of sourced American and Canadian rye whiskeys finished separately in Martinique rhum agricole casks, apricot brandy casks and Madeira barrels.

“Given our love of the beach and ocean, we’re proud to participate in an effort to restore ocean environments alongside this very worthy not-for-profit organization,” said BCS Founder Joe Beatrice. “Originally, we were drawn to The Ocean Foundation because of their commitment to replanting Seagrass. It seemed like a natural partnership.”

Beginning this month, select bottles of Barrell Seagrass will feature hang tags to celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month and Climate Week (Sept. 20-26). BCS will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these bottles to The Ocean Foundation. This organization is committed to efforts in reversing the destruction of ocean environments around the world, specifically contributing to the conservation and restoration of seagrass.

Barrell Seagrass is available at select retailers in 48 US markets and online via the BCS website. The SRP is $89.99.

Barrell Seagrass

Tequila Don Julio Introduces Ultima Reserva, An Extra Añejo Tequila In Celebration Of Upcoming 80th Anniversary

In celebration of Don Julio’s upcoming 80th anniversary in 2022, the brand honors the life of late founder Don Julio González with the introduction of Don Julio Ultima Reserva. This is a special 36-month aged extra añejo tequila made from the final agave harvest planted by González and his family in 2006.

Only 4,000 cases of Don Julio Ultima Reserva will be released this year. Moreover, highly limited quantities of this rare liquid will continue to be released each year until it reaches the end of this final agave harvest.

Don Julio Ultima Reserva is first rested in ex-bourbon oak barrels. Then it finished its maturation in seasoned Madeira wine casks. However, the maturation team used a solera aging method, incrementally combining tequilas of different characteristics during maturation. This allowed the liquid containing the Don Julio González final agave harvest to remain at the heart of the blend.

The first batch of Don Julio Ultima Reserva will be available in limited quantities in select markets while supplies last. Bottled at 40% ABV, it has an SRP of $399.

Don Julio Ultima Reserva /Photo Credit: Don Julio

Casa Del Sol Offers New Ultra-Premium Tequila Offerings

Casa Del Sol has announced the launch of its new tequila lineup, co-founded by Mexican-American actress, producer, director and activist Eva Longoria. According to the press release, the expressions are inspired by “the magic of the golden hour and Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of agave, and translates to ‘house of the sun’ in Spanish.”

Casa Del Sol is made from 100% Blue Weber agave sourced from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The brand has tapped the talents of various Mexican spirits makers, including Alejandra Pelayo, Casa Del Sol’s head of production, who is the protégé and goddaughter of the late Francisco Alcaraz, tequila pioneer and master distiller/creator of Patrón. They are also focusing on product development with Mariana Padilla, a Mexican-based artisan and daughter of Paco Padilla, cultural ambassador of Jalisco.

Casa Del Sol Tequilas /Photo Credit: Casa Del Sol

More About the Tequilas

For the barrels, Casa Del Sol partnered with Laurent Martell, the 9th generation of the Martell family in France, to source French Limousin oak and ex-cognac barrels.

The three expressions are bottled at 40% ABV.

Blanco has an SRP of $59.99,

Reposado (aged 4 months in French oak and ex-cognac barrels) has an SRP of $69.99,

Añejo (aged 14 months in French oak and ex-cognac barrels) has an SRP of $99.99.

“When creating Casa Del Sol, we wanted to deliver a brand that was set apart from the rest. From the liquid to the legacy, we took the time to develop an ultra-premium tequila focusing on authenticity and a distinct flavor profile,” says Longoria.

Casa Del Sol is available for sale at select retailers and restaurants throughout California, Colorado, and Florida, and for pre-sale nationwide online at their website. It will be available for retail nationally in early 2022.

Holmes Cay Rum Releases South Africa 2017 Single Cask Edition

Available now, Holmes Cay’s South Africa Mhoba 2017 marks the first time South African rum has ever been sold in the United States, not to mention the first time rum from Mhoba Distillery is available Stateside.

The distillery uses hand-cut cane grown on the adjacent farm, and distills cane juice pressed on a crusher. Both commercial and wild African yeasts are used in fermentation. Notably, the pot stills used were designed and built by Mhoba’s master distiller, Robert Greaves.

The rum was aged for 4 years exclusively in South African whisky casks at the Mhoba Distillery. Then the rum barrels were shipped and bottled in New York State with no added sugar, color or other flavors. Only four barrels were selected. It is bottled at full barrel proof of 59% ABV.

The Holmes Cay Single Cask South Africa Mhoba 2017 is now available at select US retailers with a SRP of $109.

Holmes Cay Single Cask South Africa Mhoba 2017

Hendrick’s Gin and Katz’s Delicatessen Launch Gin-Inspired Pickles

Hendrick’s Gin and New York City’s Katz’s Delicatessen have announced their first ever collaboration for the launch of limited-edition Hendrick’s Gin and Katz’s Delicatessen Gin-Inspired Pickled Cucumbers.

The pioneering gin brand and NYC pickle stalwart are, according to the press release, “uniting cocktail connoisseurs and pickle aficionados through a first-of-its-kind gin half-sour pickle; a delectable fusion of gin botanicals and cucumbers.”

To create the product Jake Dell, Owner of Katz’s Delicatessen, and Hendrick’s Master Distiller Ms. Lesley Gracie apparently spent countless hours concocting and evaluating flavor profiles and ratios. Connecting virtually, the two swapped notes and ideas on how to arrive at the final recipe.

Gin-Inspired Pickled Cucumbers /Photo Credit: Hendrick’s Gin

More Pickle Details

The pickles were made with a two-step brining process that took over 72 hours.

“To create this particular pickle concoction, we experimented with a variety of botanicals to marry the unique flavor profiles of Hendrick’s and the Katz’s half-sour pickle. Ultimately, the key to creating the distinct and balanced taste of the pickles was emphasizing coriander in the brine, a common ingredient in Katz’s pickles and Hendrick’s Gin,” explains Dell.

Hendrick’s Gin and Katz’s Delicatessen Gin-Inspired Pickled Cucumbers will be available for $14.95 per quart, shipping nationwide for a limited time only beginning September 27. To sign up for the launch, visit the website to secure a spot on their email list and be notified as soon as they become available.

In addition, the pickles will be a special menu item at Katz’s Deli beginning September 27, while supplies last.

It’s important to note that the cucumbers will continue to pickle while in the jar. Therefore, it’s recommended that they’re consumed within 5 to 6 days.

Barr Hill Gin Announces 2021 Bee’s Knees Week to Protect Endangered Pollinators

Barr Hill Gin has announced the 5th annual Bee’s Knees Week from September 24 through October 3, 2021. The charitable initiative celebrates the Bee’s Knees cocktail and supports habitat creation for endangered pollinators. It is the largest initiative in the spirits industry that specifically protects bees.

This year, the goals of Bee’s Knees Week are to plant 500,000 square feet (11.5 acres) of bee habitat across the U.S. while enlisting 2,000 participating bars, restaurants and stores to promote the effort.

In addition, Barr Hill Gin is inviting fans of both bees and the Bee’s Knees cocktail to post photos of the drink to social media using the hashtag #beeskneesweek and tagging @barrhillgin. For every photo posted, 10 square feet of pollinator habitat will be planted.

“Bees have always been at the heart of Barr Hill Gin and we are committed to saving them and nurturing them by protecting their habitat,” says Ryan Christiansen, president and head distiller at Caledonia Spirits, which produces Barr Hill Gin in Vermont.

Barr Hill Gin /Photo Credit: Barr Hill

The Bee’s Knees

Bee’s Knee Week focuses on the Bee’s Knees cocktail. This drink — a mix of gin, lemon juice and honey — was created in Paris during Prohibition.

Since Barr Hill Gin is made with raw honey, it is a natural base for the Bee’s Knees. Sam Nelis, Head Bartender & Beverage Director, Caledonia Spirits, tweaked the proportions of the cocktail to best showcase the gin.

Barr Hill Gin Bee’s Knees

– 2 oz Barr Hill Gin

– 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

– 0.75 oz raw honey syrup* (2:1 parts raw honey with warm water, mixed until diluted)

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin. Add ice, shake, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tidbits from Around the Spirits World

Let’s take a quick look at what else is going on in the spirits world.

Big Peat Announces Christmas 2021 Limited Edition

Douglas Laing & Co has unveiled the annual Big Peat Christmas 2021 Islay Malt Scotch Whisky.

The packaging depicts the maritime character of Big Peat riding a sleigh through his homeland of Islay. Big Peat Christmas 2021 will be available from September from select global retailers, including Europe, North America and Asia. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 52.8% ABV without added color or chill-filtration.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon C921 Is Released

C921 is the third and final edition of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon for 2021. As with previous releases, this is an uncut, full proof single barrel selection of Elijah Craig 12 Year bourbon. For C921, the proof comes in at 120.2. It is available for an SRP of $59.99.

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company Announces Peerless Double Oak Bourbon

This week, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company announced the release of its newest whiskey, Peerless Double Oak Bourbon.

Kentucky Peerless says it started crafting Double Oak whiskeys with the original intention of rescuing whiskey from a leaky barrel. The rescued whiskey is transferred into a new, charred oak barrel to continue its maturation. The process of exposing the whiskey to a second barrel gives it a chance to take on additional flavor characteristics.

Peerless Double Oak Bourbon is bottled at 54.35% ABV with an SRP of $84.99. Availability will be limited to Kentucky, California, Illinois, Florida and New York.

Peerless Double Oak Bourbon /Photo Credit: Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company

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