With December just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on some of our favorite whiskey releases from the year. And wouldn’t you know it, it also happens to be the season for gift giving. We’ve done the “hard” part of tasting through the new releases throughout the year. Most of these whiskeys are available in wide release here in the States, but there are a couple you’ll have to make a bit of an effort to get. But we promise, the hunt will be worth it. Of course you can expect to see more gift guides in the coming days in other whiskey categories. And for all of you looking for other spirit recommendations, don’t worry. We’ll have those soon as well. Without further ado, we present Distiller’s American Whiskey Gift Guide for 2019!
Introduced in 2019, Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey is made with a four-grain mash bill. With wheat comprising the majority of the mash bill (52%), the other grains used are malted barley (21%), corn (18%), and rye (8%). Crafted by master distiller Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve Wheat Whiskey is bottled at 90.4 proof.
With this release, Woodford Reserve now has all four of the permitted styles of American straight whiskey. Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Woodford Reserve Rye, Woodford Reserve Malt and Woodford Reserve Wheat are each made with the predominant grain for their classifications: corn, rye, malted barley, and wheat respectively.
Flavor Profile: Vanilla & Sweet
Legent Bourbon is a collaboration between the two halves of Beam Suntory. It’s a Kentucky bourbon, made by Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe, that includes three components. The first is the bourbon itself, matured for approximately five years, along with parcels finished in California red wine casks (for approximately one extra year) and sherry casks (for approximately two extra years).
Then the whiskeys were blended by Suntory chief blender Shinji Fukuyo. Notably, this is the first new standalone bourbon brand to come from the company in 27 years. Legent debuted in March 2019 and is a natural fit for our American whiskey gift guide.
Flavor Profile: Rich & Vanilla
George Dickel Bottled in Bond Tennessee Whisky is the product of one distillation season (Fall 2005). The mash bill for the whisky is 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. After undergoing charcoal mellowing post-distillation, it matured in new, charred oak barrels for 13 years in a federally bonded warehouse in Tennessee. Bottled at 100 proof, it first became available as of May 2019. This is the first innovation from Nicole Austin, general manager and distiller, since joining Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. in 2018.
Flavor Profile: Spicy & Rich
Heaven Hill Bottled In Bond 7 Year Bourbon is produced from the brand’s traditional mash bill. The family-owned brand originally launched its eponymous bottled in bond brand in 1939 with a four-year-old bourbon release. This Kentucky straight bourbon is aged for 7 years, though only 4 years are required for this category.
The bourbon is bottled at 100 proof and two Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) are featured on the label. DSP KY-1 is listed for the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, KY and DSP KY-31 for Heaven Hill’s headquarters and bottling facility in Bardstown, KY.
Flavor Profile: Vanilla & Full-Bodied
This American whiskey is made from a four-grain mash bill which, in addition to yellow corn, uses three malted grains: rye malt, caramel malted barley, and honey malted barley. Chattanooga refers to this whiskey as a Tennessee High Malt, but technically this is a straight bourbon. Matured for a minimum of two years in toasted and charred barrels, Cask 111 is bottled at barrel strength without filtration at 111 proof.
Flavor Profile: Rich & Full-Bodied
Small Batch Select is a non-chill filtered bourbon made using a recipe selected by Master Distiller Brent Elliott. Four Roses has 10 bourbon recipes available to craft its bourbon offerings which are made from two different mash bills and five different yeast strains. Small Batch Select is made from six of the ten: OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK and OESF. Each bourbon in the small batch selection will be six or seven years old.
This is the first new brand extension for the brand in 12 years. It joins the other permanent releases: Four Roses Bourbon, Small Batch, and Single Barrel bottlings.
Flavor Profile: Vanilla & Rich
This bourbon from Maker’s Mark is one of the brand’s Wood Finishing Series Limited Edition releases for 2019. Wood staves (dubbed RC6) sourced from the Independent Stave Company were selected which bring out fruit, sweetness and barrel spices in the whiskey. These virgin American oak staves were seasoned for 18 months and then were baked in a conventional oven. Ten of these staves were added to a fully-matured cask strength Maker’s Mark barrel for additional aging.
Only 255 barrels were produced. Proof will range from 108.2-110.5. A nationwide release for the bourbon began in October 2019.
Flavor Profile: Spicy & Fruity
To commemorate the first anniversary of its distillery opening, Lux Row launched this new limited edition bourbon. This Kentucky straight bourbon is a blend of two hand-selected barrels by Head Distiller John Rempe. This high rye bourbon is bottled at a cask strength of 118.4 proof.
Although availability was limited to the distillery and Kentucky, we suggest you try to make a trip to grab a bottle if you can. As this was one of our favorite bottles of the year, we had to include it in our American whiskey gift guide.
Flavor Profile: Rich & Full-Bodied
Of course our American whiskey gift guide wouldn’t be complete without the latest Master’s Keep release from Wild Turkey. Cornerstone Rye is the first rye whiskey that Wild Turkey has released in the Master’s Keep line. While the bottle doesn’t carry an age statement, the whiskey is at least 9 years old with some up to 11 years included. Only 15,000 bottles were produced. First available starting in August 2019, it’s bottled at 54.5% ABV.
Flavor Profile: Tart & Fruity
Remus Volstead Reserve is a straight bottled-in-bond bourbon distilled at the famed MGP Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Distilled in the fall season of 2005 (July-December), the bourbon matured for 14 years at the distillery’s own brick warehouses. Remus Volstead Reserve is named for the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act, a law enacted in 1919 to enforce the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which outlawed the production and distribution of alcohol. It’s available as of November 2019 with just 6,000 bottles produced.