Fall is a bourbon lovers paradise. This is when some of the best releases of the year come out. You have all heard about Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, but what other options are there? What else should you look for if you want some great juice? These are not based off any resale value, so do not expect to make money from this list. This is for people looking for some great new bourbon options.
Pappy Van Winkle 15, 20 or 23 year – The most sought after bourbon every year. Not only is it sought after by bourbon lovers, but the appearance on TV from Anthony Bourdain and many other shows makes even the newest bourbon drinker think they need this. Extremely limited run of these bottles and very high demand. Only 5-10 liquor stores per state will get a single bottle in. If you are lucky enough to win a raffle for it, buy it. There are also 12 and 10 year Van Winkle bourbon and a 13 year rye that are very good as well.
$60 – $300 (depending on year)
Buffalo Trace Antique Collection – Aside from Pappy, the antique collection (William LaRue Weller Barrel Proof Wheat Bourbon, George T Stagg Barrel Proof Bourbon, Eagle Rare 17 year, Sazerac 18 year Rye and Thomas H Handy High Proof Rye) are the most sought after bourbons during the fall. Buy any and all that you can find. These are my favorite releases and they will change what you believe good bourbon is. More Info: Antique Releases
Note: Stagg Will be the lowest yield ever with an increase of 15% loss to the bourbon barrels. I expect about 2,000 less bottles produced, so it will be harder to find. The good news is that WLW will be significantly increasing in production.
Stagg – 138.2 proof 15 year
WLW – 134.6 proof 12 year
ER17 – 90 proof 17 year (this is a fresh batch, the tanked ER17 was depleted last year)
Saz 18 – 18 year 90 proof (last year of the old tanked juice, next year will be Buffalo Trace’s juice)
Handy – 126.9 6 year
Four Roses “Limited Edition Small Batch” (2015 release) – Last year’s version was a bit weak, especially after the phenomenal juice from 2012 and 2013 releases. This year will include a mix of 16y OBSK, 11y OBSV, 15y OESK, and 14y OESK. You can find more information on the recipe’s here: Four Roses Recipe . Given the K strain this will be spicy and delicious. I am looking forward to this year’s release as the regular small batch is my normal daily drinker and it just improves with that extra proof and additional spicy strain blend %.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015 release) 12 year old – One of the best bourbons for anyone, on any sort of budget. They have been affordable, but are increasing in price about $20 this year. It is still a decent value, not quite the same as previous years though. Every year has a bit of a different flavor profile and all of them are great, so I look forward to seeing how this one turns out. This year was the year of my daughter’s birth so I will be stocking up.
Parker’s Heritage Collection 2015– This year’s selection is a barrel strength malt whiskey(8 year 54%). Now, it is actually not a bourbon for the first second year in a row. I am not sure how popular this release will be compared to the previous winners. Usually a great selection year after year, but I expect this more to try and bridge scotch drinkers into sweeter whiskey.
~$80 a bottle
Others to look out for:
Elijiah Craig 18 Year – At this point we are not sure if it will be released this year. EC18 is a love of mine, so I am excited for when this finally comes out.
John E Fitzgerald 20y : HH Distillery Only release of SW juice(the makers of original Pappy). It will be around $300 for a 375ml. I am not for the big pappy craze, but it may be worth it to some.
High West 16y – another gift shop selection, definitely something I would get if you can as it is very minimally released.
Michter’s 10y Rye and Bourbon – both are always good finds, even at $100
Ones with less positive reviews, but make the decision for yourself:
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep – 86.6 proof 17 year $150 Coming after Diamond I would expect them to beef up the proof a bit. Without a higher proof, I am not excited.
Elijah Craig 23 Year – Given the previous releases, I would expect this to be a bit over oaked as well
Woodford Reserve Frosty Wood – What do you do when the barrels got too cold? Let’s market it as ‘Frosty Wood’. I am not expecting it to be much different than any other release.
Maker’s Mark 46 Cask Strength – following the popularity of barrel strength bourbons Markers is trying a barrel proof version of the 46 at their gift shop. Depending on this release they will see about distributing nation wide.