Five Big, Upcoming Bourbons Out This Autumn
By Richard Thomas
For American whiskey enthusiasts autumn is the most anticipated time of year, the season when all the expressions that elicit the most excitement come out. ‘Tis the season of Pappy Fever, when the elusive and neigh-unattainable (unless you are willing to pay four-figure prices) Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are released. Prized almost as much are the five whiskeys of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC). This is also the time of year when Heaven Hill releases the annual Parker’s Heritage, which this time around is an American malt.
When it comes to annual limited releases, those are most, but not all, of the biggest names in Kentucky whiskey. Van Winkle, BTAC and Parker’s Heritage aren’t the only things to watch for in 2015’s big autumn release. Looking just at the bourbons, here are five others worth checking out in September, October and November.
Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition (October): This year Four Roses will release a small batch, cask strength bourbon drawn from three of their different mashbill recipes and four different ages: OBSK 16 years, OESK 15 and 14 years, and OBSV 11 years. This whiskey will be bottled at 55.9% abv (112 proof, rounded up).
Elijah Craig 23 Year Old Single Barrel (September/October): If there is an annual limited edition release that should be getting more attention, it is this one. This is among the oldest whiskeys Heaven Hill releases, and for those obsessed with age statements, it packs one that is right up there with the hoariest bourbons around. Compared to, say, Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old, it’s both more easily had and relatively affordable, coming in at a few hundred dollars as opposed to a few thousand.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (October): Fans of the “original small batch,” Elijah Craig 12 Year Old, should keep their eyes peeled for the annual release of a new batch of the 12 Year Old Barrel Proof.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 12 Year Old (September): Starting in 2002, Old Forester has released this limited edition every year on September 2nd, marking the birthday of founder George Garvin Brown. The stock is always selected from a single day’s production. Last year’s release sold out in two or three days, but retailed for only $59.99. Do yourself a favor: find out what local liquor store is stocking this and show up first thing on the morning of the 2nd.
Smooth Ambler 5 Year Old: Not everything new and noteworthy in bourbon coming out this autumn comes from one of Kentucky’s major distilleries. West Virginia-based distillery Smooth Ambler will reportedly have a five year old bourbon out this autumn, distilled under its own roof rather than sourced.