The flow of new bourbon hitting the market is practically constant right now. Trying to keep up with it all is damn near impossible. That’s true even if you’re in the business (or write about the industry), so don’t feel bad if you get a little overwhelmed. We all do.
New bottles of bourbon aren’t going to stop dropping anytime soon, either. So we’ll keep calling out new drops that we like as fast as we can — while admitting that a few might fall through the cracks. Hopefully, it’ll be rare… but it can happen.
Today, we’re putting a $100 price cap on which bottles we highlight. And that … made this way harder than expected. There’s a lot of great new juice out there at the $100, $150, and $200 price points. We’ll get to those later. For now, let’s focus on some new bourbon that’s tasty and (relatively) affordable. If you dig any of these bottles, hit that price to see if you can get them in your region.
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Remus Repeal Reserve Series V Straight Bourbon
Average Price: $94
This year’s Remus Repeal Reserve V is a hell of a whiskey. The MGP of Indiana signature bourbon is comprised of nine percent 2005 bourbon with a 21 percent high-rye mash, five percent 2006 bourbon with a very high-rye mash of 36 percent of the sticky grain, 19 percent 2006 bourbon with the same 21 percent high-rye mash, 13 percent 2008 bourbon with that 21 percent rye mash, and 54 percent 2008 bourbon with the 36 percent high-rye mash.
The nose on this is brilliantly fruity with touches of fresh raspberries, strawberries resting in dry straw, candied cherries, freshly peeled mandarins, apple cores and stems, and a touch of caramel malts. That caramel sweetness merges into a fresh honeycomb next to Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda vanilla and pep while the fruit dries out, leaving you with meaty dried figs, dates, and prunes driving the midpalate toward the finish. A touch of candied ginger spices things up as a fruity but dry tobacco leaf rounds out the end with the faintest touch of walnut shells.
This is going to be hard to beat in 2021. It’s a refined, deep, and satisfying bourbon that’s so bright and easy-drinking. It’s a real gem.
Paul Sutton Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $75
Paul Sutton is a new bourbon from an old family recipe. I know, we’ve all heard it before. The new whiskey is not a blend of sourced bourbons. The brand took the time to release its contract distilled own-make juice. The bourbon mash bill has a touch of rye in it and it aged for up to five years in medium char barrels.
The nose on this has a distinct barnyard funk tied to wet bales of straw that leads to a salted caramel sweetness with a hint of a pine box full of cherry pits. The taste veers away from most of that towards sweet corn cakes with a touch of vanilla cream and eggnog spice. A Caro syrup-soaked pecan sweetness and nuttiness drive the mid-palate towards a cherry tobacco finish with a hint of dark cacao powder.
You can feel the craft in this new bourbon. It’s amazingly easy to sip, has its own vibe, and mixes really well in a cocktail. You can’t ask for much else!
Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $53
Chicken Cock has some serious bourbon history going back to 1856. It was also the bourbon of the infamous Cotton Club in Harlem during Prohibition. Fun fact, the hooch was smuggled into the club in tin cans that they cracked open tableside.
The juice in this bottle is sourced from Kentucky, but not much else is known as of now.
Granny Smith apples and Red Hots jump out on the nose with a hint of black Necco Wafer, a touch of soft and wet oak, and hints of caramel. The palate leans into the buttery ends of toffee with burnt sugars leading toward dried fruits, fatty nuts, and holiday cake spices. The vanilla arrives late and is tied to the sweeter edges as a light dried tobacco leaf leaves a little heat on the back end.
This is a really easy drinking bourbon that feels accessible. It’s a great mixer too and highly recommended for stirring up some cocktails as the year fades away.
Woodinville PX Sherry Cask Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $70
This whiskey takes Woodinville’s signature (and much-lauded) five-year-old straight bourbon and gives it a new finishing touch. The juice is finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, making a sort of sibling to our favorite bourbon of 2020, the Port Cask Finish. But while there are similarities between the two, this feels like a step up in many small, tough to define ways.
The nose is a bouquet of dark spices next to dried orange rinds, soft Christmas cake, and a slight floral underpinning that’s more “damp” than “dried out.” The taste embraces the holiday spice matrix with a creamy veneer of dark chocolate oranges, eggnog spice, and a velvety mouthfeel with a hint of orchard fruit and toffee drizzle. The finish is long but doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s a sense of the woody spices that’s more akin to cinnamon sticks once stirred in hot apple cider, leaving you with a dry note of spicy tobacco.
This is a top-ten bourbon of the year, no question. It’s also damn near perfect. No notes!
Average Price: $80
Barrell puts out a lot of whiskeys every year. We forgive you if you can’t keep up (we barely can!). This edition is a mix of whiskeys finished in pear brandy, Jamaican rum, and Sicilian Amaro casks that are then batched. The juice then goes into the bottle uncut to help highlight the disparate yet similarly cozy flavors given by each of the barrels.
Pear drives the nose with a pear compote or pear butter made with plenty of dark spice and just a hint of dark chocolate and tobacco. The taste is warm but slightly rummy with a clear eggnog note acting as a driving force, leading towards hints of black licorice next to creamy toffee stacked beside hefty chocolate bars filled with nougat and walnuts. A slight black tea bitterness takes over on the end as the nuttiness, spiciness, and sweetness all come together for a big finish with plenty of warmth and boldness.
This has been growing on me a lot lately. The smooth nature of the sip with that much fruity depth is beautiful in a glass with a single rock.
Dettling Small Batch Six Grain Bourbon
Average Price: $40
This juice is a “field-to-glass” craft whiskey from a state that’d likely be a better spot to age rum than whiskey. The juice starts off with locally sourced corn that local chefs use in their cornbread. That’s supported by flaked rye, rolled oats, malted barley, and heavily roasted wheat alongside a sixth, undisclosed grain. That juice is then aged for two short years before it’s small batched and bottled at a very approachable 80 proof.
That cornmeal comes through on the nose with a sense of candied orange, salted butter, and pancake syrup with a hint of brewer’s yeast. The taste holds onto the corn while that orange sweetens towards a touch of toffee before the mid-palate shifts towards bitter chocolate with a note of spicy black peppercorns. That dry pepper holds as a light dry herbal note lingers on the senses.
A lot of people are losing their shit over this new juice from Alabama. It’s easy to see why. This is really refined bourbon for being so new and, well, young.
Average Price: $55
Stellum Bourbon is the new kid on the block. The juice in that bottle is a cask-strength blend of whiskeys from Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. This whiskey is all about the blending process that Stellum employs to make this special and award-winning bourbon. It’s a delicate balance of mixing great whiskeys to make something better than the individual parts.
The nose is a holiday cake with fatty nuts next to woody spice barks — think anise, clove, and cinnamon — with a nice dose of dried red fruits and honey-dipped over-ripe Granny Smith apples. The palate edges away from the spice towards a powdered sugar sweetness with a hint of dry vanilla. Then a counterpoint bursts onto the scene with a hit of spicy, dried chili pepper flakes next to blackberry pie with a nice dose of cinnamon and nutmeg. The end lingers for just the right amount of time as the spice fades back towards the honeyed sweetness and a final touch of vanilla tobacco buzz lands in the back of the throat.
This has become my go-to for cocktails this month. The bottle will be empty soon and I’m definitely going to keep it in rotation. It’s just a killer cocktail base.
George Dickel Tennessee Whisky Bottled-In-Bond
Average Price: $45
Nicole Austin has been killing it with these bottled-in-bond releases from George Dickel. This year’s release is a whiskey that was warehoused in the fall of 2008. Eleven years later, this juice was bottled at 100 proof (as per the law) and sent out to the wide world where it received much adoration.
This bottle exudes a flaky-crusted pecan pie jacked up on maple syrup, sprinkled with dried apple, and flush with rich vanilla. The taste delivers on those promises with a subtle maple syrup sweetness balanced with roasted nuts, more vanilla, and another dose of that earthy/spicy dried fruit — think dried cherry dipped in dark cocoa powder. The end is slow and pointed with spicy apple pies, brown butter richness, and another shot of that vanilla leading towards a hint of charred oak.
This is certainly the best bottled-in-bond of the year, so far. It’s one of those whiskeys where you take a sip and then say, “Ah! I get it now.”
High West American Prairie
Average Price: $50
American Prairie is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after sourced whiskeys. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of two to 13-year-old barrels rendered from high-rye, low-rye, and undisclosed source mash bills. The release supports the American Prairie Reserve by highlighting the project and supporting it financially.
This opens with caramel apples next to new leather, vanilla pudding, and sweet buttered corn with a touch of salt. The palate has a nougat svelteness next to creamed corn and Southern biscuits dripping with butter and honey. The mid-palate to finish starts to dry out with vanilla husks and cedar bark but then veers into apple candy.
You can never go wrong with the bottles coming out of High West. This is a modern classic that seems to get deeper and more refined with every passing year.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel
Average Price: $60
Jimmy Russell hand selects eight to nine-year-old barrels from his warehouses for their individual taste and quality. Those barrels are then cut down ever-so-slightly to 101 proof and bottled with their barrel number and warehouse location.
There’s a roundness to this sip that’s enticing. The nose is a classic mix of bold vanilla, baking spice, oak, and fruity sweetness. That fruit edges towards dark berries with notes of worn leather, aged oakiness, and a sweet and rose-water-forward marzipan nuttiness shining through. The end lasts a while on your palate and in your senses, leaving you warmed up and wanting more.
I was lucky enough to pick up the latest release of this back in September, and it was a knockout. It’s bananas that this is a single barrel from one of the hottest shingles in bourbon and it doesn’t cost five, six, or ten times the MSRP… Yet.
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