Knob Creek 15 Year Old, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon & More New Whisky

With the July 4 holiday coming up, there’s no better time for new bourbon, and this week’s latest releases include several great options.

Special bottles of Evan Williams Black honoring military veterans are rolling out now. Each bottle features the story of one of five veterans, chosen from 6,500 nominations. Concurrently, the Evan Williams American-Made Heroes Foundation has donated $5,000 to each of the veterans’ preferred charities. More than 360,000 American Hero bottles of Evan Williams are available, priced at $13 for a 750 ml and $25 for a 1.75 liter.

Knob Creek is debuting its oldest whiskey to date, a 15 year old bourbon. Priced at $100, the bourbon is available nationwide in limited quantities.

Also limited—probably a lot more limited—is Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, which will officially launch in September. Retail-priced at $130, it’s likely to go for more than that, if it can be found at all.

Old Tub Bottled in Bond bourbon, which up to now has been available only in the visitor center of Jim Beam’s Clermont, Kentucky distillery, is rolling out nationwide. The limited-edition bourbon is priced at a bargain $23.

Italy’s Puni Distillery has hit U.S. shores with four offerings: Alba ($116), Sole ($99), Gold ($88), and Vina ($95). The whiskies are distilled from triple malt—barley, wheat, and rye—and aged in a variety of casks. They’re hitting shelves in 22 states.

Finally, there’s a non-alcoholic bourbon substitute on sale now. Spiritless Kentucky 74 is intended to replace bourbon in cocktails. It’s priced at $36 and available nationwide.

Read on for full details.

Knob Creek 15 year old

Style: Straight rye
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 15 years old
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $100
Release: June 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Just two months after launching a 12 year old straight bourbon, Knob Creek is debuting its oldest whiskey to date, available as a limited edition.

Whisky Advocate says:

For a bourbon, getting to 15 years isn’t just a matter of leaving it in the barrel longer, as there’s a risk of overdoing the wood flavors. The press materials about this release note that the barrels were pulled from select parts of the warehouse that “cater to advanced aging.” This likely means lower racks, where the temperature swings are less extreme.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 49% ABV
Price: $130
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The 20th release of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon comes from 95 barrels, filled on June 5, 2010 and aged for 10 years.

Whisky Advocate says:

In addition to 2020 marking Birthday Bourbon’s 20th, um, birthday, this year is also the 150th anniversary of Old Forester. Although the brand has shared bottle counts in the past, it’s declined to do so this year. With just 95 barrels being bottled, however, there’s likely to be less available than in 2019, when 120 barrels yielded 13,200 bottles, or the two prior years, which saw even higher bottle counts.

Old Tub Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $23
Release: June 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

Previously available only at James B. Beam Distilling Co.’s visitor center in Clermont, Kentucky, this bottled in bond bourbon is now available nationwide for a limited time. The historic brand’s name refers to the old-fashioned mash tubs that would have been used back in the 19th century.

Whisky Advocate says:

Old Tub is non-chill filtered, which means it contains more of the fatty acids, proteins, and other chemical compounds that give whiskey its texture and flavor. Most of Beam’s whiskey is chill-filtered, as explained by master distiller Fred Noe.

Puni Alba

Style: Whisky
Origin: Italy
Age: 3 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $116
Release: June 2020
Availability: For sale in 22 states

Need to know:

Distilled from malted barley, malted rye, and malted wheat, this whisky is aged for 2 years in marsala casks, then an additional year in peated Islay whisky casks. The name “Alba” means Scotland in Gaelic and dawn in Italian.

Puni Sole

Style: Whisky
Origin: Italy
Age: 4 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $99
Release: June 2020
Availability: For sale in 22 states

Need to know:

Made from the same three malts as Puni Alba, this whisky is initially aged for 2 years in first-fill bourbon casks, then another 2 years in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.

Puni Gold

Style: Whisky
Origin: Italy
Age: 5 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $88
Release: June 2020
Availability: For sale in 22 states

Need to know:

Another triple-malt whisky, this is aged for 5 years in bourbon casks in above-ground warehouses, where it’s exposed to greater temperature swings.

Puni Vina

Style: Whisky
Origin: Italy
Age: 5 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $95
Release: June 2020
Availability: For sale in 22 states

Need to know:

This whisky made with malted barley, malted wheat, and malted rye was matured in casks that previously held marsala vergine, a completely dry marsala wine.

Whisky Advocate says:

Italy’s only malt whisky distillery, Puni is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region and takes its name from a nearby river. The distillery opened in 2012, and its whiskies have been sold in Europe for a few years. Now they’re coming stateside, available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The use of three different malts—barley, wheat, and rye—distilled on pot stills and matured in the Alpine environment makes for a pretty unique recipe. We look forward to reviewing these whiskies in an upcoming Buying Guide.

Spiritless Kentucky 74 Non-Alcoholic Bourbon

Style: Non-alcoholic "bourbon"
Origin: Kentucky
Age: Unaged
Proof: 0% ABV
Price: $36
Release: July 2020
Availability: Nationwide

Need to know:

This is not whiskey; it’s de-alcoholized “spirit.” What that means is this: It starts off as neutral grain spirit that’s rectified with pieces of oak to impart wood flavors. Then, the spirit is “reverse-distilled” to evaporate all but about 0.5% of the alcohol; what’s left behind retains many of the previously imparted flavors from the oak extraction process. The liquid is pH-adjusted for shelf-stability before being bottled. Spiritless Kentucky 74 is currently available for pre-orders online, with shipping to all 50 states; it will also be sold at retail.

Whisky Advocate says:

The founders of Spiritless wanted to create an alternative to bourbon for those seeking to take a night off, or even staying sober for longer periods. The liquid is intended to be a one-to-one replacement for bourbon in cocktails, or to replace half the bourbon in a recipe for a lower-ABV drink.

I am as skeptical as most of you probably are, but there are many reasons a whiskey lover might choose to pause drinking alcohol, including pregnancy, health, and religious reasons. I intend to test-drive this product in some cocktails in the coming weeks to see if it lives up to its goal. Stay tuned!

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