Experimental Irish Whiskey, Kentucky Owl Dry State & More New Releases

After last Friday’s Whisky Weekend published, we got news from Diageo about the 2020 Special Release Collection, which this year includes eight single malt scotches. Check out the full details—including pricing and availability—and look for reviews in an upcoming Whisky Advocate Buying Guide.

This week’s new whiskies come from Ireland, Scotland, Kentucky, and beyond. First up, Ireland’s Midleton Distillery is launching the Method and Madness range of experimental whiskeys in the U.S. The lineup includes a single grain ($60), single malt ($75), and single pot still ($90). All are available in limited amounts.

Kentucky Owl is releasing a limited-edition bourbon to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Prohibition. Just 2,000 bottles of Kentucky Owl Dry State are available—including a handful to be sold at auction—with a recommended retail price of $1,000.

The Fall 2020 release of Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond is rolling out, this time at 14 years old. Available in limited amounts, the bourbon has a recommended retail price of $140.

Rabbit Hole Distillery has debuted a series of limited-edition whiskeys chosen by founder Kaveh Zamanian, starting with a barrel-proof version of Boxergrail rye. There are 1,315 bottles available, priced at $195.

Kilchoman Distillery has created a third bottling of its USA Small Batch, this time with a significant amount of port cask-matured single malt. There are 1,266 bottles available in the U.S. only, priced at $80. Kilchoman is also rolling out the 2020 release of 100% Islay, priced at $120; 1,440 bottles of that will come to U.S.

Columbus, Ohio’s Watershed Distillery is releasing a barrel-proof bourbon in honor of its 10th anniversary. The limited-edition whiskey is priced at $70 and for sale in a handful of states.

Finally, New Deal Distillery in Portland, Oregon is offering three limited-edition 5 year old malt whiskeys this fall—one each in September, October, and November. The whiskeys are priced at $33 for a 375 ml bottle and for sale at the distillery only.

Read on for full details.

Method and Madness Single Grain

Method and Madness Single Grain

Style: Single grain
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $60
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition; for sale in AZ, CA, FL, MA, MN, NV, PA, SC, TX, and WA

Need to know:

Made at Midleton Distillery, this single grain whiskey is first matured in bourbon barrels, then finished in virgin Spanish oak casks.

Method and Madness Single Malt

Method and Madness Single Malt

Style: Single malt
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $75
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition; for sale in AZ, CA, FL, MA, MN, NV, PA, SC, TX, and WA

Need to know:

Also from Midleton, this single malt whiskey is aged primarily in bourbon barrels, with a portion of it spending a finishing period in French oak casks.

Method and Madness Single Pot Still

Method and Madness Single Pot Still

Style: Single pot still
Origin: Ireland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $90
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition; for sale in AZ, CA, FL, MA, MN, NV, PA, SC, TX, and WA

Need to know:

This Midleton-made single pot still whiskey is matured in bourbon and sherry casks, and then finished in casks made of chestnut.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Method and Madness brand has been available overseas for a few years, but this is its first time in the U.S. Taking its name from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t” —Polonius in Act II, Scene 2), this range of experimental whiskeys is meant to reflect an unconventional approach that still respects Midleton’s position as an established distiller. The company will not say whether these releases are one-offs, or if we can expect more Method & Madness bottlings to hit the U.S. in the future.

We reviewed the 2017 release of the chestnut cask-finished single pot still whiskey, scoring it 95 points.

Kentucky Owl Dry State

Kentucky Owl Dry State

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $1,000
Release: September 2020
Availability: 2,000 bottles

Need to know:

Released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Prohibition—which made all of America “dry”—this is a blend of straight bourbons ranging from 12 to 17 years old, created by Kentucky Owl co-founder Dixon Dedman, who said it’s intended to be a collector’s item.

Whisky Advocate says:

This whiskey carries the highest recommended retail price so far for Kentucky Owl (although in reality, bottles often sell for much more than the suggested price). The brand is partnering with Christie’s auction house to sell five bottles, with a starting bid of $1,920; all proceeds will support the National Restaurant Association’s Employee Advancement Fund, which assists hospitality workers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Old Fitzgerald 14 year old Bottled in Bond (Fall 2020 Release)

Old Fitzgerald 14 year old Bottled in Bond (Fall 2020 Release)

Style: Bottled in bond bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 14 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $140
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This bourbon was distilled in Fall 2005 and bottled in Fall 2020. (The Fall distilling season, as defined by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, runs from July to December.)

Whisky Advocate says:

Heaven Hill previously released a 14 year old version of Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond as a Kentucky exclusive, sold mainly at the visitor center. This bourbon is a different whiskey altogether, pulled from different warehouses and distilled at a different time.

Rabbit Hole Founder's Collection Boxergrail

Rabbit Hole Founder's Collection Boxergrail

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 6 years old
Proof: 57.3% ABV
Price: $195
Release: October 2020
Availability: 1,315 bottles

Need to know:

This is a limited-edition version of Boxergrail, Rabbit Hole’s 95% rye, aged for 6 years and bottled at barrel proof. Seven barrels were selected by founder Kaveh Zamanian, who will create similar special-edition whiskeys in the future.

Whisky Advocate says:

Rabbit Hole’s core Boxergrail rye scored 86 points in the Buying Guide, with notable flavors of tropical fruit, chai spices, and nuts. Since this limited edition has more alcohol, and more alcohol means more flavor, expect even bigger character here.

Kilchoman USA Small Batch No. 3

Kilchoman USA Small Batch No. 3

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 48.9% ABV
Price: $80
Release: September 2020
Availability: 1,266 bottles for the U.S. only

Need to know:

Exclusive to the U.S., this whisky combines liquid matured in both bourbon and sherry casks with the contents of a ruby port cask, which makes up 50% of the blend.

Kilchoman 100% Islay (2020 Release)

Kilchoman 100% Islay (2020 Release)

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Islay)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $120
Release: September 2020
Availability: 12,400 bottles, including 1,440 bottles in the U.S.

Need to know:

The 10th release of this whisky that’s made entirely on Islay—from growing the grain to bottling—this includes distillate from the harvests of 2007, 2009, and 2010. The final blend includes 39 bourbon barrels and 2 oloroso sherry butts.

Whisky Advocate says:

Kilchoman 100% Islay is annually available, but the Small Batch is a U.S. exclusive. Its first release also included port-matured whisky, though in a smaller proportion (25%). It scored 92 points in the Buying Guide.

Watershed Barrel-Strength Bourbon

Watershed Barrel-Strength Bourbon

Style: Finished bourbon
Origin: Ohio
Age: 6 years old
Proof: 59.65% ABV
Price: $70
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition; for sale in OH, FL, GA, KY, and MI

Need to know:

Released in honor of Watershed Distillery’s 10th anniversary, this bourbon was aged for 6 years and then finished in apple brandy barrels. It’s initially available in Ohio this month, followed by Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Michigan in October.

Whisky Advocate says:

Apple brandy is as American as bourbon, so putting the two spirits together makes sense. Bardstown Bourbon Co. released an excellent apple brandy-finished bourbon last year, while other distilleries have used the barrels for finishing rye (New York Distilling Co.’s Ragtime) and American single malt (Santa Fe Spirits’ Colkegan).

New Deal Small-Batch Malt Whiskey Series

New Deal Small-Batch Malt Whiskey Series

Style: Malt whiskey
Origin: Oregon
Age: 5 years old
Proof: 42% ABV
Price: $33 (375 ml)
Release: September-November 2020
Availability: Very limited; for sale at the distillery only

Need to know:

New Deal is releasing a different experimental malt whiskey each month this fall:

  • September: Barley whiskey. Made with 56% malted barley and 44% barley; aged in a 25-gallon new charred oak barrel. 125 bottles.
  • October: American single malt. Made with 50% malted barley and 50% smoked malted barley; aged in 25 gallon new charred (#1 and #4 char) oak barrels. 425 bottles.
  • November: Smoked malt whiskey. Made with 67% wheat, 12% malted barley, and 21% smoked malted barley; aged in 25 gallon new charred (#1 and #3 char) oak barrels. 425 bottles.

Whisky Advocate says:

New Deal owner and distiller Tom Burkleaux will host a virtual tasting of all three of these whiskeys in November. Check out the distillery’s website to stay up to date on the details.

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