Part Two of our Two Part Series | By Justin Thompson
Click Here for Part One of the Series
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon
2013 marks the 12th time that Brown-Forman has released the annual and acclaimed Old Forester Birthday Bourbon to honor the September 2nd birthday of their founder, George Gavin Brown. This year’s expression available for around $55 in what is now its signature decanter style bottle that is a throwback to the ones Old Forester used in the late 1800’s.
Each year the proof is altered so to accommodate the flavor profile that their distilling team is shooting for and the 2013 version comes in at 98 proof. According to their Master Distiller Chris Morris, this year’s offering should stand out to the past offerings because of the 2013’s very prominent vanilla note.
The 2013 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon will be limited to 1900 cases, a 20% increase compared to last year’s supply and while it’s not available in every state in the country, most should have access to this product.
Old Forester has a long history that dates back to 1873, and according to Morris, “Is the only Bourbon still in existence today that was produced before, during and after Prohibition by its original distiller. No other Bourbon brand sold in the U.S. today can make that claim.”
For Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the fall release of the annual Parker’s Heritage Collection bottling is always a labor of love, but this year’s release could more accurately be described as a labor for love.
Heaven Hill Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam, who has recently been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and for whom the acclaimed series is named, has selected special barrels of Bourbon for this year’s edition that mirror his own personal preference for age, proof and warehouse location. Called the “Promise of Hope” bottling, this seventh in the acclaimed series will feature a remarkable cause-related component—for each bottle of the “Promise of Hope” edition sold, Heaven Hill will contribute $20 to the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund, a fund established through the ALS Association in honor of the legendary 6th Generation Master Distiller.
In addition to being the first cause-related bottling in the Parker’s Heritage Collection series, the Promise of Hope bottling will mark the first time that a single barrel American Whiskey has been offered in the collection. Parker painstakingly sampled and selected Bourbon barrels that met his own personal “wish list” criteria. From among Heaven Hill’s nearly one million barrels in storage, Parker selected approximately 100 barrels of ten-year-old rye-based Bourbon from one of his favorite warehouses, the tiered 80-year-old Rickhouse EE in Deatsville, where they sat in high storage for 40 seasons. Each of the chosen barrels was dumped and bottled, with no chill-filtering, in 750ml bottles at Parker’s preferred bottling proof of 96°.
The 7th Edition Parker’s Heritage Collection Promise of Hope will be available on select retail shelves and at fine bars and restaurants nationwide starting in mid-September at an average retail price of $90 for the 750ml bottle.
Jim Beam Maple
Not bashful about leading the charge in the “Flavored Bourbon” category with products such as Red Stag and Jim Beam Honey, Jim Beam will be launching Jim Beam Maple nationwide starting September 2013. By infusing Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with natural flavors, the folks at Beam expect consumers to experience a sweet, brown maple aroma with a taste that’s light with a warming maple and light caramel finish.
While technically not a Bourbon (it’s bottled at 70 proof and Bourbon has to be bottled to at least 80 proof) Jim Beam Maple was created with the help of 7th-generation distiller, Fred Noe, at Jim Beam’s Global Innovation Center in Clermot, KY, Jim Beam Maple is a product that reflects Beam’s commitment to growth, with innovation being one of the key components for this goal. When asked about this new Bourbon Noe said, “This product is for the Bourbon drinker who’s looking for something new, or someone who’s looking to discover a new type of spirit to enjoy.”
When asked which method he preferred to enjoy Jim Beam Maple, Noe quickly responded, “No matter what kind of Jim Beam you are drinking, I always say the best way to enjoy it as any damn way you please. I prefer my Jim Beam Maple chilled and served on the rocks or poured over flapjacks, baked into pies or seared with bacon. You really can’t go wrong.” This product comes in at 70 proof and a suggested retail price of $15.99.
Thoroughbreds and Bourbon it seems have always gone together, so the founders of Pinhook Bourbon thought is was about time someone developed a Bourbon dedicated to the risky practice of pinhooking, which is the art of investing in young racehorses based on their bloodlines, in hopes of them becoming a champion runner.
Pinhook Bourbon is led by none other than Sean Josephs, a certified sommelier and proprietor of the acclaimed southern-cooking restaurants Char No. 4 (located in Brooklyn) and Maysville (Manhattan). Josephs is teaming up with Bourbon Lane Stables, who manages dozes of stake winning horses, to partner with each release of Pinhook Bourbon with an actual thoroughbred who is actively competing. Pinhook’s first release (only 10,000 bottles) will be tied to Bourbon Courage, a champion starter whose career can be followed at the company’s website and twitter accounts.
Pinhook Bourbon plans to release at least two separate bottlings each year for the next two years, with what the company hopes will become, “a highly collectible stable of exquisite bottles” to go along with the exquisite Bourbon of course.
Wild Turkey Spiced
Another Wild Turkey Whiskey developed by Bourbon Hall of Famer Eddie Russell, will hit the shelves during the fall of 2013. Wild Turkey Spiced is the brand’s attempt to combine the bold taste of Wild Turkey with the spiced flavors that are normally associated with “island spirits”.
Wild Turkey believes this product will be a more masculine choice for spiced rum drinkers who are curious about Bourbon. While the brand claims Wild Turkey Spiced is enjoyable on its own, they also encourage trying this new variation by mixing with cola or other mixable drinks. The suggested retail price will be $22.99 for most markets.
The Antique Collection
The Antique Collection was introduced more than a decade ago and has become a cult favorite among whiskey connoisseurs. The 2013 Antique Collection whiskeys will be available in limited quantities starting in late September or early October. Suggested retail price is $70 each.
The highly anticipated collection will once again feature five limited-release whiskeys of various ages, recipes and proofs. Here’s what ardent fans can expect:
Eagle Rare 17 Year Old
The previous edition of this bourbon was honored with a Gold Medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition. The 2013 edition was distilled in the Spring of 1993 and has been aging on the 2nd, 3rd and 6th floors of Warehouses I and K. The barrels selected for this batch were actually aged for 19 years, and the taste has been described as dry, with hints of oak, leather, and tobacco.
George T. Stagg
The 2012 release of this perennial favorite was named the “World’s Best North American Whiskey” at the 2013 World Whiskies Awards. The 2013 George T. Stagg was found in Warehouses I, K and Q. This uncut, unfiltered bourbon was distilled back in the spring of 1997 and weighs in at 128.2 proof, not as strong as some years, due to the location of the barrels on lower floors. “We sample many barrels throughout the year to find the best ones to create George T. Stagg. It just so happens this year, most of the barrels had been stored on lower floors. The temperature remains cooler down low where it balances the mature flavors from the wood and in turn the proof climbs slowly from the entry proof. The quintessential George T. Stagg taste is there – a big, bold whiskey that is easy to sip,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. Although still highly allocated, Buffalo Trace did begin to start putting more barrels away back in 1997 for future George T. Stagg releases. This whiskey tastes of fudge, vanilla, and tobacco.
Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old
Last year’s release was awarded a 95 rating and Liquid Gold Award in Jim Murray’s 2013 Whisky Bible. This 2013 rye whiskey release was aged in Warehouses K and is described as mellow spice, vanilla sweetness, mint, and a dry finish.
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye is an uncut and unfiltered straight rye whiskey. The 2012 edition was named “World Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s 2013 Whisky Bible. This year’s Handy was distilled in the spring of 2007, aged on the seventh floor of Warehouse K and weighs in at 128.4 proof. The flavor has been described as toffee, clove, and allspice.
William Larue Weller
William Larue Weller is the Antique Collection’s uncut, unfiltered, wheated recipe bourbon. The previous edition was named the “Second Finest Whisky in the World” in Jim Murray’s 2013 Whisky Bible. The 2013 offering was distilled in the spring of 2001 and aged on the third and fourth floors of Warehouses M and P. This William Larue Weller release registers in at 136.2 proof. It tastes of dates, caramel, and brown sugar.
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