Barrell Whiskey Batch 004
Barrell Craft Spirits founder, Joe Beatrice, has been having some fun with his Barrell Whiskey line since introducing it in 2015. Where the first batch was similar to his bourbon line, barrel proof straight whiskey, with Batches 003 and 004 he introduced barrel finishes. With Batch 004, which will hit the market in the first quarter of 2017, Beatrice is “98% sure” it will be whiskey finished in his Barrell Rum barrels. Where Barrell Rum Batch 001 was rum finished in bourbon barrels, this will be nearly a reverse of that. With rum gaining in popularity with the bourbon crowd, this will make for fascinating comparisons as one love bleeds into another.
Barrell Rye Batch 001
It was only a matter of time before Beatrice added rye whiskey to his portfolio. With his mantra of releasing spirits at barrel proof and striving to offer no two batches that are alike, there is certainly a market for this in the rye category. With so few barrel proof ryes on the market combined with each batch being different, Beatrice appears to be looking to blow the rye market wide open.
Update 02/28/17: Beatrice has confirmed with us that Batch 001 will be a straight rye with a high percentage of malted barley and is targeting an April release.
Barrell Bourbon New Year 2017 Limited Edition
Barrell Bourbon New Year 2017 is a slight departure from what Beatrice has released in the past few years. In what seems like he’s taking a page from Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, New Year Bourbon is a blend of 5, 7, 8, 9 and 13 year old straight bourbon whiskeys that were separately distilled and aged in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Beatrice has proven he has a knack for picking great bourbon barrels and blending them from a single distillation year, but now faces a bigger test blending from different years. It’s no small task, but you have to hand it to Beatrice for facing the challenge head on. This release hit the market at the tail end of 2016 and is expanding to more markets in the first quarter of 2017.
Knob Creek 25th Anniversary
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Knob Creek brand. Named after the small stream that flows through Abraham Lincoln’s childhood home in Kentucky, Booker Noe introduced Knob Creek 25 years ago to restore the standards of pre-prohibition bourbon; a long-aged, big flavored bourbon like those of the past. The company surprised fans with two additional batches of 14 year old Knob Creek 2001 (five batches total) in 2016, demonstrating a fairly extensive supply of longer aged bourbon. Lana Ohs, PR and Communications Manager for Beam Suntory confirmed that while there will not be additional batches of Knob Creek 2001 released in 2017, the company is “working on some exciting plans to celebrate the brand’s 25th anniversary this year.” Update 03/18/17: Beam has confirmed some new info about their Knob Creek 25th Anniversary. It is their first true barrel proof product (proof will hover around 125), is a single barrel, and will be released this summer. With samples already sent to the media, there's a good chance this will hit the early part of the summer.
A New Jim Beam Release?
The Jim Beam brand often sees a new release in any given year, but with bourbon enthusiasts scouring TTB COLA approvals, larger brands seem to be holding off longer on label submissions in order to keep new releases closer to the chest. With that in mind, Ohs said “[there] is nothing to share at the moment, but as we do with most of our brands, we do have some innovations in development.” Ohs also confirmed that Baker’s Bourbon is NOT going away.
Jack Daniel’s Barrel Aged Rye
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye (review) made our Favorite Whiskeys of 2016. Svend Jansen, Global PR Manager for Jack Daniel's and Brown-Forman, confirms that a rye product will be released in 2017, but didn’t specify what exactly. There’s probably a good chance that it is a 5 year single barrel rye. With the potential the 4 year rye has already showed, this is one to watch.
Update 03/18/2017: A new label for a Jack Daniel's rye were approved and it appears that Jack Daniels may be changing the name of their rye product yet again in 2017. Now called "Jack Daniel's Barrel Aged Rye," no extra info could be pulled from the label, but we still expect this to be aged 5 years.
Jack Daniel’s Red Dog Saloon
Jansen confirmed that Red Dog Saloon will be a limited release in 2017. According to the label it will be an 86 proof whiskey that commemorates the 125th Anniversary of Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg saloon. This appears to be similar to 120th Anniversary Jack Daniel’s White Rabbit Saloon release a few years ago; slightly higher proof than standard Jack and priced around $40.
Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky
Brown-Forman’s Whiskey Row series has garnered a healthy bit of praise from whiskey drinkers, especially their latest release, 1920 Prohibition Style. When the series was first released there was a mention and label approval for 1910 Old Fine Whisky, a whiskey “barrel finished using [Owsley] Brown’s exact process.” Since the series has released in chronological order we’re not sure if this release was scraped, being renamed, or released out of order. The company has another one or two more extensions of this series planned for 2017, but the timeframe and product has not yet been finalized, according to Wendy Treinen, Public Relations Manager for Brown-Forman.
Woodford Distillery Series
Double Double Oaked is the next Distillery Series expression is planned for January. It is re-release of a concept the company has offered before, according to Treinen. According to the company's press release, Double Double Oaked is the result of finishing fully mature Woodford Reserve Double Oaked for an additional year in its second, heavily toasted, lightly charred, new oak barrel. The extra year in the barrel creates a bourbon that is distinctly spicier than its original counterpart, known for its sweeter taste and finish. Prior Distillery Series concepts have included Five Malt, Frosty Four Wood, and Sweet Mash Redux.
E.H. Taylor Four Grain
Another year, possibly another Taylor special release. If the past two year’s TTB approvals are anything to go by, E.H. Taylor Four Grain is a real product and will be release in March. The 2017 release is mix of corn, barley, rye and wheat. It’s still unclear if started as a four grain mashbill or a blend of different mashbills. Buffalo Trace remains silent on the issue until their expected press release in March.
Update 03/18/2017: Buffalo Trace has announced this product will be released in April, is 12 years old, and will retail for $70.
Update 03/23/2017: Our Review of E.H. Taylor Four Grain
Sazerac 18 Year
After being pulled from the same batch that was stored in stainless steel tanks for years, 2016’s Sazerac 18 Year “new batch” caused a lot of excitement in the whiskey community. While not unanimous, the general consensuses was it lacked a lot of qualities that people loved about the “steel tanked batch.” Fortunately for these folks, 2016’s batch was a one time dump. “From this year onward, this whiskey will be drawn directly from barrels put away for 18 years, versus using any tanked whiskey” said Amy Preske Buffalo Trace's Public Relations and Events Manager. With many brands see price increases, Buffalo Trace has “no plans to raise prices.” “As we’ve repeatedly said, our prices to our customers have and will remain relatively unchanged,” Preske added.
Orphan Barrel: The Archive Collection
This release made it on our New 2016 Whiskeys last year and after bouncing around our Bourbon Release Calendar all year, it never made it out in 2016. It started to look like this was never going to see an actual release or if it was even an actual product. Diageo has confirm that it's actually called “The Archive Collection” but wouldn’t confirm which releases it consists of or if it would be released in 2017. With many people missing out on the 26 year Old Blowhard and the 28 year Whoop & Holler, many whiskey drinkers are looking forward to this release.
Blade and Bow 22 Year
High aged whiskey always garners a lot of interest and then quickly disappears from store shelves upon release. That was what a lot of people found when hunting for Blade and Bow 22 Year in 2016. For those who missed out, they will get a second chance again in 2017 with the re-release right around Kentucky Derby time.
Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch
Al Young 50th Anniversary
Four Roses surprised fans in 2016 with a Limited Edition Single Barrel, aptly named Elliott’s Select after their new master distiller Brent Elliott. Elliott spoke with us last year about another group of barrels he had considered for the release, but in a recent update said “those barrels could be used in a future Limited Edition Small Batch. Because there are no plans for a Single Barrel in the next year or two, they will probably get too oaky to consider using for any Single Barrel releases beyond that.” Elliott did confirm there will be a 2017 Limited Edition Small Batch release this fall, but added “We are currently working out the formula for that release...nothing is finalized yet.” On a whim, we asked about the possibility of a barrel proof Four Roses Yellow, as well as how he liked it at barrel strength. While he confirmed there are no plans for such a release, with respect to it being a possibility for a future Limited Edition Small Batch he did add “...that is not out of the question.” As for how it tastes, “...it is a really crisp, balanced and rich Bourbon...and it is really, really nice at barrel proof.”
Update 03/03/17: When speaking with Elliott in mid-2016 he confirmed that the company was planning to commemorate Al Young’s 50th Anniversary, but it hadn’t been decided if it was going to be a standalone release. It looks like after a TTB label approval, this year’s Limited Edition Small Batch is also going to commemorate Al Young’s 50th Anniversary. Coming in at 108.6 proof, it will be a blend containing some of the oldest Four Roses to date: OBSF - 12 Year, OESV - 13 Year, OBSK - 15 Year, OBSV - 23 Year. We expect Four Roses to keep with their current Limited Edition Small Batch fall schedule for this release.
Taking a cue from their Ocean Aged at Sea series, Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller is at it again except this time, aging two barrels on board a 23 foot motorboat cruising America’s great rivers and the East Coast. According to Zoeller in an article he did with Forbes, the purpose of this voyage is to recreate how bourbon was transported from Kentucky to New York City in the 19th and 20th centuries. The boat will travel down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, into the Gulf Of Mexico, and finally travel up the east coast to New York City. Zoeller is targeting $70 for a package of two 200 ML bottles; one from the journey and the other of the standard Jefferson’s Small Batch for direct comparison.
Jefferson’s New Fill
The label simply shows a map with Louisville marked in the same art style as Jefferson’s Journey, so this is most likely the 200 ML bottle of Jefferson’s Small Batch he’s including with Journey. Jefferson’s sources their bourbon, but “New Fill” lends itself as being more than simply another sourced bourbon. Jefferson’s has been distilling for two years at Kentucky Artisan Distillery, so it’s possible this could be a taste of their first distillate they put into barrels though that is unlikely as the label does not have an age statement, indicating it is at least 4 years old. Additionally, Zoeller probably would have used a different label and bottle design to mark the special release. Our best guess is Zoeller has followed up on our suggestion to offer before and after ocean aging bourbons in a 2-pack, offering fans the chance to directly compare the impact of aging bourbon on a boat versus on land. Zoeller did not respond to our questions on the release.
Aged Barrel Proof Collection
Redemption Whiskey has confirmed with us they will continue their Aged Barrel Proof Collection in 2017 and will include a 10 year barrel proof rye, a 9 year high rye bourbon, and a 9 year barrel proof rye. The company is targeting a fall release for the collection. Redemption Whiskey is also planning to release some “very rare older expressions” as well as some “other unique offerings,” but details are still being determined. Before Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits acquired Redemption Whiskey in mid 2015, former owner Dave Schmier gave us a taste of a 17 year rye whiskey at WhiskyFest that year which impressed us. Redemption Whiskey is also rolling out a brand refresh for their NAS whiskeys. New labels and custom shaped concave-back bottles are replacing the tall skinny bottles the brand has sported since 2010.
Update 03/18/2017: New Redemption labels have been approved by TTB and they reveal that the company may release very, very old bourbon in 2017. A new sub-brand called "The Ancients" include releases of an 18 year old bourbon and a 36 year old bourbon.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades
This release was scheduled for 2016 and media samples were even sent out before Wild Turkey put the release on hold. “We felt it was imperative to allow the partnership [with Matthew McConaughey] to take center stage this year, hence the reason for the delay with Decades,” said Sarah Bessette, Senior PR Manager for Campari America. “It’s such an amazing liquid and we wanted to give it the consideration and focus it deserves. Decades is the second limited release from our newly appointed Master Distiller Eddie Russell – and it is a celebration of his 35 years at Wild Turkey.” Look for this blend of 10-20 year old bourbon to begin hitting the market in January.
Old Ripy / Bond & Lillard
Campari America has taken the lid off of their next big release. Branded under The Whiskey Barons Collection, Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard are throwbacks to now defunct whiskey brands. Bottled in 375 ml, these $50 bottles will be sold beginning in February at the Wild Turkey Visitor Center and California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York City, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Old Ripy (104 proof) is a combination of 8 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon with 12 year old and younger whiskies. Bond & Lillard (100 proof) is aged a minimum of seven years in timber warehouses and is charcoal filtered. Wild Turkey values flavor consistency in their brands, and adding these two brands separate from their standard portfolio may allow the company to experiment with new flavors. Although as Campari notes in their press release, “Jimmy and Eddie Russell haven’t been involved.”
Willett 5 Year Bourbon
A small amount of Willett’s distilled Family Estate 4 year bourbon hit Kentucky in 2016 and it’s also supplying a new release of Old Bardstown, which gives us hope the company releases some of their 5 year old bourbon in 2017. “If we feel that our inventory is healthy enough, and the whiskey is ready, then we make decisions as to whether or not we will release a 4 Year Rye or a 5 Year Bourbon. It would be reckless to do otherwise” said Britt Chavanne, VP Administration/Director at Willett Distillery.
Willett 4 Year Rye
Willett’s Family Estate 4 Year Rye was expected in the later half of 2016, but now we’re hearing whispers of spring 2017. Chavanne stressed to us that Willett’s family distillery does not have structured, formulated plans in place regarding anything they release. Basically, when they feel the whiskey is ready, then plans are put in motion for a release.
Willett Wheated Bourbon
Two years ago a label was approved by TTB for a Willett White Whiskey distilled from wheat grain. With white whiskey’s drop in popularity since then and many brands doing away with their “white dog” products, it could be why Willett has yet to release this. It’s always important to remember that not all TTB label approvals actually become real products. But the real takeaway from this label is that Willett is most likely distilling with wheat grain. For now, Chavanne remains silent on the matter. If Willett is planning an aged Family Estate Wheat Bourbon, we may have to wait a bit longer before it pops up. Recently, whiskey writer Fred Minnick paid the company a visit and tasted a 4 year old wheat whiskey and proclaimed, " You have no idea how delicious this 4-year-old is. Sublime." Is 2017 the year for Willett's Wheat Whiskey?
Willett XCF Version 2.0
XCF Version 2.0 was briefly mentioned on Drew Kulsveen's Twitter account in 2015. Two years later we still have not heard anything. “It all boils down to timing....if we find barrels that are of interest to us, and we have whiskey that is suited to those barrels, then we have an XCF release,” Chavanne said. “It isn't something that is pre-planned but rather more of a serendipitous occurrence.”
Willett's 80th Anniversary Release
This label was approved by TTB in November 2016, and the Internet went wild. The label doesn’t give any details what this product is besides its potential 100 proofpoint. Chavanne says she has no information to share “with anyone until we had those products actually available.” Not quite a confirmation, but an 80th Anniversary is certainly something to celebrate with a special release. The bigger question is would this be Willett’s own prime distillate or did they set aside a few special barrels of their sourced Family Estate Bourbon?
Update 03/18/2017: Willett silently released this at their gift shop yesterday. It's their own distillate aged 4 years and retails for $35. Early word is Willett will release 5200 bottles in a limited number of markets.
This article is a culmination of independent research, TTB label information and direct contact with producers. While we believe the information contained in this article is accurate, it does not mean all of these will become actual releases. This article will be updated throughout the year as new information is made available. Please contact us with any additional information or clarifications on any of the potential products listed in this article.
All images should be considered CONCEPT ART
and NOT THE FINAL DESIGN.