Knob Creek 12 Year Old, Armagnac-Finished Bourbon & More New Whiskey

Earlier this week, we spoke with distilleries in the U.S. and Scotland about the implications of coronavirus-related operations changes for the future availability of their whiskies. Most big companies are optimistic that current interruptions aren’t going to impact the availability of bottles down the road, but that’s not the case for everyone. Read more about the situation, and what it means for whisky lovers, in our in-depth report.

Of course, COVID-19 has changed the way people are drinking whisky right now. With more virtual tastings and Zoom events popping up every week, a couple of whiskey companies are getting extra creative to keep fans engaged, opening up their blending processes to input from the public. Ireland’s Chapel Gate Whiskey Co., which makes J.J. Corry, will create a crowd-sourced blend called The Lock In, sending blend samples to participants who will vote on their favorite. Once bottled, the whiskey will be available widely for sale. If you’re interested in taking part, sign up for the company’s mailing list to receive details.

In addition, Vermont-based WhistlePig is teaming up with e-commerce site Flaviar to create a new whiskey called HomeStock. Flaviar members can sign up to receive a free blending kit, which includes tools and samples of three whiskeys—rye, wheat, and barley—experiment to create their own blend, and then participate in a live blending session, voting on the best. The winning formula will be bottled as HomeStock, and 20% of sales via Flaviar will be donated to the United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. Find more information on the process and how to claim your kit at Flaviar’s website.

On to new whiskeys that are coming out now. Knob Creek 12 year old was initially released in late 2019 as a limited-edition bourbon, but it’s now becoming a core part of the lineup. Widely available, it’s priced at $60.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. is launching its latest Collaborative Series whiskey, a bourbon finished in armagnac casks from Château de Laubade. The limited-edition whiskey costs $125, with 2,000 bottles available.

Buffalo Trace is rolling out three new kosher-certified straight whiskeys: a bourbon made with rye, a wheated bourbon, and a rye. All three are available in limited amounts and will be released annually, priced at $40.

Four Gate Whiskey Co. is releasing its latest batch of bourbon, this one finished in cognac and rum casks. Four Gate Kelvin Collaboration II is $200, with 2,474 bottles available.

Finally, Indiana’s West Fork Whiskey Co. is launching two straight ryes distilled at MGP: one at 45% ABV ($28) and the other at barrel proof ($40). Both are available in Indiana for now, with expansion planned.

Read on for full details.

Knob Creek 12 year old

Knob Creek 12 year old

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $60
Release: April 2020
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Newly minted as a part of Knob Creek’s core lineup, this bourbon matured for 12 years in the “center cut” (middle floor) of Jim Beam’s rackhouses, which offers less dramatic temperature variations than the top racks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Consistent maturation conditions, like Beam says this bourbon experienced, are typically important for aging bourbon longer than 8-10 years; too much interaction with the wood, caused by big temperature swings, can make older bourbon taste over-oaked.

In addition to making the 12 year old permanently available, Knob Creek is bringing back the 9 year old age statement for its core bourbon, several years after it was dropped.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Château de Laubade Armagnac Cask-Finished Bourbon

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Château de Laubade Armagnac Cask-Finished Bourbon

Style: Finished bourbon
Origin: Indiana
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 59.2% ABV
Price: $125
Release: May 2020
Availability: 2,000 bottles; for sale in CA, FL, IL, IN, KY, and TN

Need to know:

Distilled at MGP and matured for 12 years in new charred oak, this bourbon was then finished for 18 months in armagnac casks from Château de Laubade.

Whisky Advocate says:

Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s Collaborative Series of limited-edition whiskeys has included a number of unique cask finishes, including a couple wines—most recently using The Prisoner barrelsale, apple brandy, and an unusual spirit called mistelle. Very few distilleries have done armagnac finishes, though Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend bourbon includes some armagnac-finished whiskey, and French brand Armorik has also used armagnac casks.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Recipe Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Kosher Rye Recipe Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $40
Release: April 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Made with Buffalo Trace’s No.-1 mashbill, which uses rye as the flavoring grain, this bourbon is certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat Recipe Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat Recipe Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $40
Release: April 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Also certified kosher, this whiskey is made with Buffalo Trace’s wheated bourbon mashbill.

Buffalo Trace Kosher Kentucky Straight Rye

Buffalo Trace Kosher Kentucky Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $40
Release: April 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Like the bourbons above, this rye is distilled at Buffalo Trace and certified kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

Whisky Advocate says:

All three of these whiskeys are available in limited amounts, released annually following Passover. Buffalo Trace took a number of steps to achieve kosher certification for them, including aging the spirits in kosher barrels and flushing the bottling lines before these whiskeys went through them, to ensure no trace contact with non-kosher spirits.

Though Buffalo Trace claims these are the first “authentic kosher” whiskeys, that isn’t true as a number of whiskies are certified kosher (though these are perhaps the first to be certified by the Chicago Rabbinical Council). The Council actually provides a list of alcohols certified as kosher by other bodies, noting, “In general, American whiskey [and bourbon and rye] does not require kosher certification.”

Four Gate Kelvin Collaboration II Cognac and Rum Cask-Finished Bourbon

Four Gate Kelvin Collaboration II Cognac and Rum Cask-Finished Bourbon

Style: Finished bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 63.2% ABV
Price: $200
Release: April 2020
Availability: 2,474 bottles; for sale in KY and TN

Need to know:

As a follow-up to its first bourbon, which was finished in sherry-rum casks, Four Gate is releasing this bourbon, finished in both cognac casks and rum casks from the same distillery as before, located in the Florida Keys. The final mix includes bourbon from three cognac casks and four rum casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Each batch of Four Gate whiskey is different from the others, and nearly all of the company’s releases have been bourbons with unique finishes. Our Spring issue, which just came out, has three new reviews for the brand: Split Stave (91 points), Outer Loop Orbit (92 points), and Foundation, a 9 year old straight bourbon (93 points).

Old Hamer Straight Rye

Old Hamer Straight Rye

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: 2 years old
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $28
Release: April 2020
Availability: For sale in IN, with expansion planned

Need to know:

Distilled at MGP from mashbill of 51% rye, 45% corn, and 4% malted barley, this whiskey was bottled by West Fork Whiskey Co.

Old Hamer Cask Strength Straight Rye (Batch 1)

Old Hamer Cask Strength Straight Rye (Batch 1)

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Indiana
Age: 2 years old
Proof: Cask strength (57.5% ABV for Batch 1)
Price: $40
Release: April 2020
Availability: For sale in IN only, with expansion planned

Need to know:

Similar to the straight rye above, this was distilled at MGP from the same mashbill, and was bottled by West Fork Whiskey Co. without dilution—so the ABV will vary from batch to batch.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Old Hamer brand is historic to Indiana, resurrected by West Fork in 2019. The line also includes a straight bourbon in both 40% ABV and cask-strength varieties, and some canned cocktails. All the whiskey is made at MGP, which is common enough, though most of the distillery’s clients aren’t located in the same state.

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