Parker’s Heritage 2020, Balvenie 50 Year Old & More New Whisky

September and October bring all the special releases, and none are more hotly anticipated than the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, which hits shelves this month. We’ve got all the details on this year’s releases, though we cannot tell you how to actually find them at retail price (sorry).

The annual allocation of Basil Hayden’s 10 year old bourbon (89 points) is returning to shelves for the third year in a row. The whiskey’s recommended price has gone up to $70, and it’s available in limited amounts.

The 2020 release of Parker’s Heritage Collection is coming out. This year it’s a 10 year old straight bourbon aged in heavily charred barrels. The recommended retail price is $120 and, as always, availability is limited.

Balvenie is launching a third and final expression of Marriage: Fifty. The 50 year old single malt is priced at $40,500, with just 148 bottles available worldwide.

Japanese whisky company Nikka is launching two single malts: One is distilled at Yoichi, while the other is made at Miyagikyo, and both are finished in apple brandy barrels. There are just under 13,000 bottles of each available globally, priced at $250 in the U.S.

Benriach has announced a revamp of its core lineup, including a new peated 12 year old single malt. The Smoky 12 is widely available, priced at $65.

Compass Box has unveiled a blended grain scotch in honor of its 20th anniversary, harkening back to its very first release. Priced at $175, there are 2,226 bottles of Hedonism Felicitas worldwide.

Aberfeldy is rolling out an 18 year old single malt finished in red wine casks from Pauillac in Bordeaux. The scotch whisky is priced at $120 and available in limited amounts.

Brown-Forman’s King of Kentucky is returning for a third year, this time at 14 years old. There are roughly 2,200 bottles of the single-barrel straight bourbon available in Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio, priced at $250.

FEW Spirits has created a rye whiskey proofed down with oolong tea. FEW Immortal rye is priced at $45, with 6,000 bottles available.

Gordon & MacPhail has bottled a single cask of Coleburn single malt distilled in 1972. There are 363 bottles available worldwide, priced at $2,500 in the U.S.

Finally, Seven Jars Distillery in Charlotte, North Carolina is releasing Ava Gardner Select, a blend of its own bourbon and sourced bourbon, named for the Hollywood star. There are 3,600 bottles available, priced at $65 and for sale mainly in the state.

Read on for full details.

Parker's Heritage Collection 10 year old Heavy Char Bourbon (2020 Release)

Parker's Heritage Collection 10 year old Heavy Char Bourbon (2020 Release)

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 10 years old
Proof: 60% ABV
Price: $120
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

The 14th release in the Parker’s Heritage Collection from Heaven Hill, this is a straight bourbon distilled from 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. It was aged in level 5 heavily charred barrels for 10 years. Just 102 barrels went into this batch.

Whisky Advocate says:

Heaven Hill typically uses a level 3 char for its bourbon barrels; upping the char number creates more caramel and sweet maple flavors, as well as a smoky character, in the whiskey. The Parker’s Heritage Collection is always in high demand, so if you see this on the shelf at the recommended price, consider it a great buy.

Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0614

Balvenie Fifty: Marriage 0614

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 50 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $40,500
Release: September 2020
Availability: 148 bottles

Need to know:

The third and final release in Balvenie’s 50 year old Marriage series, this whisky consists of liquids aged 50 years or more. Seven casks went into the blend, including five American oak casks making up 64% and two European oak casks comprising 36%.

Whisky Advocate says:

Blended by long-serving Balvenie malt master David Stewart—who’s been in the business longer than these whiskies were in cask—this is one of several 50 year olds the distillery has released in the last decade—and the most expensive in recent years. The 2019 Marriage 0197 was priced at $38,000, as was the 2018 Marriage 0962. Those whiskies were lower in ABV, however—and were bottled prior to the imposition of 25% tariffs on scotch.

Nikka Yoichi Apple Brandy Barrel-Finished

Nikka Yoichi Apple Brandy Barrel-Finished

Style: Single malt
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $250
Release: September 2020
Availability: 12,900 bottles worldwide; for sale in CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, NY, TN, TX, and WA

Need to know:

Made at Nikka’s Yoichi Distillery, this single malt was aged in a variety of cask types including sherry and American oak, then finished for 6 months in Nikka apple brandy barrels.

Nikka Miyagikyo Apple Brandy Barrel-Finished

Nikka Miyagikyo Apple Brandy Barrel-Finished

Style: Single malt
Origin: Japan
Age: Not stated
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $250
Release: September 2020
Availability: 12,900 bottles worldwide; for sale in CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, NY, TN, TX, and WA

Need to know:

Made at Nikka’s Miyagikyo Distillery, this single malt was initially aged in American oak, bourbon, and sherry casks, with sherry providing the dominant flavor note. It was then finished for 6 months in Nikka apple brandy barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Before it was a whisky company, Nikka made products from apples: apple juice, apple jelly, apple wine, and apple brandy, which it still makes today. These special releases are intended to honor that history and commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nikka founder Masataka Taketsuru’s marriage to Rita Cowan. “To this day, apples are often associated with Rita to pay homage to the way she supported Masataka, just as apples supported Nikka,” according to a statement from the company.

Benriach The Smoky Twelve

Benriach The Smoky Twelve

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 12 years old
Proof: 46% ABV
Price: $65
Release: October 2020
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

This peated single malt made at Benriach Distillery is matured in bourbon, sherry, and marsala casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

Benriach just unveiled new names and packaging for its core range of single malts, including an updated recipe for its unpeated 12 year old and this entirely new peated 12 year old. This detailed article has more information on the new lineup, which also includes two 10 year olds, as well as a peek at what other expressions will be arriving in 2021.

Compass Box Hedonism Felicitas

Compass Box Hedonism Felicitas

Style: Blended grain
Origin: Scotland
Age: Not stated
Proof: 53% ABV
Price: $175
Release: September 2020
Availability: 2,226 bottles

Need to know:

Created in honor of Compass Box’s 20th anniversary this October and blended by lead whiskymaker James Saxon, this blended grain whisky includes three components:

  • 44.1% whisky from Port Dundas distilled in 2001 and matured in refill sherry butts
  • 33.1% whisky from Strathclyde distilled in the 1980s and matured in first-fill bourbon casks
  • 22.8% whisky from North British distilled in the 1990s and matured in recharred American oak barrels, from two lots (15% and 7.8%)

Whisky Advocate says:

Compass Box launched in October 2000 with Hedonism, a blended grain scotch whisky. Since then, the blending house has created over 100 whiskies, aiming to show that blended scotch is every bit the equal of—and often superior to—single malt. Doubtful? The scores speak for themselves.

Aberfeldy 18 year old French Red Wine Cask-Finished

Aberfeldy 18 year old French Red Wine Cask-Finished

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Highlands)
Age: 18 years old
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $120
Release: September 2020
Availability: Limited edition

Need to know:

This whisky was first matured in a combination of first-fill bourbon, refill, and recharred casks, then finished for 4-5 months in red wine casks from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux.

It’s initially available at Aberfeldy’s visitor center before rolling out at retail worldwide next month.

Whisky Advocate says:

Red wine finishes can be tricky; some whiskies don’t mesh well with the heavy fruit and French oak notes that can be imparted. But there are several deft examples to be found in recent scotch releases, including Glenmorangie Grand Vintage Malt 1989 (92 points), finished in a Côte-Rôtie cask, and Loch Lomond 2002 Kerr Cellars Red Wine Cask-Finished (94 points), which used a California pinot noir cask. Look for a review of this Aberfeldy in an upcoming issue of Whisky Advocate!

King of Kentucky 14 year old (2020 Release)

King of Kentucky 14 year old (2020 Release)

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 14 years old
Proof: Varies (barrel proof)
Price: $250
Release: September 2020
Availability: 2,200 bottles; for sale in IL, KY, and OH

Need to know:

The third release of this limited edition from Brown-Forman, the parent company of Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, and Jack Daniel’s, this year the bourbon is 14 years old. As always, it’s bottled as a single barrel at barrel proof, so ABV will vary.

Whisky Advocate says:

For the first time since its inception in 2018, King of Kentucky will be available beyond its home state. I can personally recommend getting your hands on a bottle if you see it; the 2019 batch scored 93 points, and the inaugural release scored 94 points.

FEW Immortal Rye

FEW Immortal Rye

Style: Whiskey specialty
Origin: Illinois
Age: Not stated
Proof: 46.5% ABV
Price: $45
Release: September 2020
Availability: 6,000 bottles

Need to know:

This is FEW’s straight rye whiskey, brought down to bottling proof with 8 Immortals tea from the Tea Spot.

Whisky Advocate says:

Last year, FEW released Cold Cut, a bourbon proofed down with cold-brew coffee. The effect was subtle; I couldn’t detect the coffee in a blind tasting, and was surprised at the reveal. Cold Cut scored 87 points in the Buying Guide. I’m looking forward to finding out if this tea-proofed rye can pull off the same trick.

Gordon & MacPhail 1972 Coleburn

Gordon & MacPhail 1972 Coleburn

Style: Single malt
Origin: Scotland (Speyside)
Age: 47 years old
Proof: 62.4% ABV
Price: $2,500
Release: September 2020
Availability: 363 bottles

Need to know:

Distilled in 1972, this whisky spent its entire maturation period—47 years—in a refill sherry puncheon. It’s bottled at cask strength, and is being released in honor of Gordon & MacPhail’s 125th anniversary.

Whisky Advocate says:

Coleburn Distillery closed in 1985, though its warehouses are still used by a different independent bottler, Murray McDavid. The whisky is rarely seen, even for a mothballed distillery, so this is a rare chance to get a taste—if you can afford it.

Ava Gardner Select Bourbon

Ava Gardner Select Bourbon

Style: Bourbon
Origin: North Carolina and Indiana
Age: Not stated
Proof: 50.5% ABV
Price: $65
Release: October 2020
Availability: 3,600 bottles; for sale mainly in NC

Need to know:

A blend of bourbons from MGP Distillery and  Seven Jars Distillery in Charlotte, North Carolina, this whiskey is bottled in honor of Ava Gardner. Each box depicts Gardner as the character Kitty Collins in the 1946 film “The Killers.”

Whisky Advocate says:

The star of many classic Hollywood films, Gardner was a North Carolina native and whiskey lover who purportedly said, “I wish to live to 150 years old, but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.” Seven Jars partnered with the Ava Gardner Trust and Legacy and Talent Entertainment to produce this bourbon, and has plans for additional, unique releases in the future, each featuring a different photo of Gardner.

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