It’s a new month, meaning it’s time to call out some new whiskey to chase down. February is on the quieter side of the whiskey release schedule but it’s not silent by any means. There are great — some would say amazing — whiskeys dropping right now. Including Uproxx’s first-ever barrel pick, in partnership with Nashville Barrel Company.
To that end, I’m calling out 15 great whiskeys you should chase down this month. For this list, I pulled in bottles of whiskey from all over the world that were released very recently (one of these was bottled a week ago) with some dropping for the public in the next week or two. It’s all fresh stuff that feels very 2023.
I’m not ranking these — they’re all quality pours and worth your time and effort to hunt down. Also, there are some insane bottles on this list, and ranking them against more mainstream stuff just seems foolish. Of course, a $7,000 bottle of whiskey is going to rank higher than a $69 one. So let’s skip that and just enjoy a list of really good whiskey to drink this February.
Nashville Barrel Company UPROXX January Barrel Pick Single Barrel Aged 6.2 Years
Average Price: $119
This release is Uproxx’s inaugural barrel pick release. The barrel was chosen by me (Uproxx’s head drinks writer & whiskey editor) at the tail end of 2022 on a visit to Nashville Barrel Company. The whiskey in the bottle is a 6-year-and-two-month-old bourbon from MGP of Indiana. The high rye mash bourbon (75/21/4 corn/rye/malted barley) aged for five years in Indiana before moving to Nashville for an additional 14 months of resting. The bourbon went in the bottle at cask strength straight from the barrel.
Nose: The nose opens with toffee, mild leather, orchard barks, blood orange, soft sweet grains, cinnamon sticks, cherry tobacco, plum, and a whisper of old pine accented by a touch of thyme.
Palate: The taste meanders through salted caramel, dates, cinnamon bark, cardamon pods, clove buds, and soft vanilla cake before leaning slowly into a spiced warmth.
Finish: The end arrives with sweet and chewy pipe tobacco, orange bitters, rock candy, and very light yet creamy cacao lushness next to hazelnut Manner Neapolitan Wafers and dry oak.
I’m biased, but this is a pretty damn fine pour of whiskey. The heat from the higher ABVs never overwhelms the subtle palate while the deep bourbon notes create a killer balance. Trust me, you’ll dig it!
Pōkeno New Zealand Single Malt Whisky Single Cask Double Bourbon Cask
Average Price: $112
The New Zealand malt is made with local barley. That hot juice is then aged in first-fill bourbon barrels for just under 3 years before it’s re-barreled in fresh first-fill bourbon barrels for an additional six months of mellowing. One barrel was then bottled completely as-is for this special U.S.-only release.
Nose: Old vanilla pods and dark cacao nibs mingle with honeysuckle, nasturtium, and old sweet oak staves with a hint of nutmeg, espresso, and creamed salted caramel filling out the deep nose.
Palate: That honeysuckle and dark cacao drive the malty palate toward a rich sense of malted cookies dipped in toffee candy and rolled in spice barks and dried red berries with a whisper of coconut tobacco lurking in the far background.
Finish: The finish leans into the spice barks and old sweet oak staves with a fluttering of coastal rocky brininess that somehow just works with the sweet and spicy malts, providing a lovely balance on the finish.
This was the biggest surprise for me in January. This U.S.-only release is a stellar introduction to Maori single malt whisky and a damn fine pour of whisky overall.
The Left Cross Puncher’s Chance Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Jamaican Dark Rum Casks Aged 14 Years
Average Price: $149
This sourced bourbon from Bruce Buffer (of UFC fame) is an old whiskey. The bourbon in the bottle is a 14-year-old whiskey made with 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. After around 14 years, that whiskey is re-filled into freshly dumped Jamaican rum casks that held rum for 12 years. Those barrels are then batched after two to six months of additional maturation before proofing and bottling.
Nose: The nose has a classic sense of old oak, dark vanilla, black cherry, and woody spices with a hint of spearmint-spiked molasses.
Palate: The palate has a mild hogo funk with bananas foster cut with brandy, old raisin boxes, winter spices, and a soft vanilla cake frosted with rum-raisin and dark cacao.
Finish: Soft brown sugar gives way to a warming mulled wine vibe with plenty of anise, clove, and cinnamon next to plummy rum sweetness and Cherry Coke spiced tobacco.
This is funky and fresh. It tastes pretty great when poured neat but really opens up with a rock or some water. In the same vein, it makes a good cocktail base for a funky Manhattan too.
Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey Bushmills Single Malt Cask Batch No. 00004
Average Price: $78
This American single malt is made up in Denver, Colorado. The twice-distilled malted juice is aged for four years in new white American oak before batching, proofing, and bottling.
Nose: Turkish Delights mingle with a fresh sense of ground espresso beans, toffee candies, and ancho chilis with a light sense of dark chocolate powder and dried apricot.
Palate: The mouthfeel is lush with a sense of marmalade and kiwi before mild fresh chili pepper spiciness leads to a sense of ginger and maybe some star fruit.
Finish: The end has a honeyed malt vibe with a touch of dried pear and sweet caramel malt cookies before slowly fading toward spicy hot chocolate.
This is a really solid whiskey that hints at very clear Irish whiskey accents (orchard fruits, honey, maltiness) with a sharp and spicy American whiskey aura. It’s a nice balance. Overall, I’d use this for a very interesting old fashioned or over some rocks with just a dash of bitters.
Old Elk Rum Cask Finish Rye
Average Price: $89
This is a five-year-old 95/5 (rye/malted barley) rye whiskey. The nuance there is in the finish. That 95/5 rye is re-barreled in 14-year-old Barbados rum barrels for a final two to five-month-long finishing touch. Those barrels are then touched with water before bottling.
Nose: There’s a clear sense of grilled pineapple and clove on the nose that leads to woody tropical spices and an overall feel of rummy tropical cocktails with plenty of spicy booze in them.
Palate: The palate leans into the woody spice barks with bitter orange, bright lemon, and a hint of lime leaves before delving into vanilla pods and a touch of warm tobacco.
Finish: The tobacco drives the finish toward a whisper of mango and pineapple with a dried and almost salted vibe before ending up in a nice and rummy spiced note.
This is a great candidate for mixing up a cocktail with plenty of citrus and fruit.
Backbone Big Bash American Whiskey Blend of Straight Whiskeys Batch No. 1
Average Price: $65
This Indiana whiskey is a blend of straight rye and straight bourbon whiskeys. About 90% of that blend is from an array of finishing barrels that added anywhere from six months to two years of maturation to the original whiskeys.
Nose: The nose opens with a sense of dark berries, black cherry, and blood orange against soft vanilla, lightly toasted oak, and a sense of plum pudding cut with brandy butter.
Palate: The taste leans into the dark fruits with a dark chocolate orange feel next to woody winter spices, soft leather tobacco pouches, and a hint of marmalade.
Finish: The end lingers on the cinnamon bark and clove berries as a nice sense of roasted peach and stewed plums drive a soft sweetness toward rich spicy tobacco.
This is just nice. It’s a well-rounded and balanced bourbon-forward American whiskey. It’s nice neat, on the rocks, or in a simple whiskey cocktail.
Writers’ Tears Red Head Irish Whiskey
Average Price: $199
This is classic Irish single malt that’s triple distilled before a long aging process. The hot juice rests in Spanish Oloroso sherry butts until it’s just right. Those barrels are batched and proofed before bottling otherwise as-is.
Nose: Burnt orange and peach skins mingle with a hint of salted dried mango next to red berry tea leaves, plum jam cut with clove, and a mild sense of brandy butter and scones.
Palate: Nutella comes through on the palate with a sense of rum-raisin, old sherry-soaked oak staves, and creamy vanilla cake.
Finish: The end leans into the brandy butter and scones with a sense of sharp orange marmalade and fresh breakfast tea cut with cream and honey.
This is a subtle yet distinct whiskey. It’s fruity and creamy with a light body and easy finish. I tend to lean toward simple cocktails with this, but it works on the rocks too.
Larceny Barrel Proof Batch No. A123 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $69
This year’s first Larceny Barrel Proof is made with Heaven Hill’s standard wheated bourbon mash bill of 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley. The batch is made from a combination of six to eight-year-old barrels from Heaven Hill’s rickhouses. The final blend is bottled as-is.
Nose: Chili pepper spice and almost damp masa come through on the nose with a hint of mustiness next to nut loaf cut with a twinge of apple cider juice and some orchard tree branches with a hint of apple caramel candy lurking underneath.
Palate: Sweet vanilla cake leads to a hint of cinnamon bark and creamy eggnog with plenty of nutmeg before a light ABV heat rises and leads to apple cores and soft leather.
Finish: A sharp winter spice dominates the end with a sense of old apple bushels, broken-down used bourbon barrels, and a hint of caramel vanilla creaminess.
This is great over a single, big rock. It’s a nice slow sipper for a lazy winter afternoon.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch No. A123 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Average Price: $69
This year’s first Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is hewn from Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye. That hot juice is loaded into charred American oak barrels and left to rest for 12 long years before batching and bottling as-is.
Nose: This has a classic nose that leans towards toasted chocolate beans, dried chili pepper flakes (and maybe even some fresh green chili), burnt vanilla pods, singed cherry bark, and old leather dipped in caramel.
Palate: Bold! The palate opens with a sense of sweet stick toffee pudding (dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, salted caramel sauce) before hitting a high note on the ABVs with a spicy heat that’s immediately countered by a rich cherry syrup and caramel sauce.
Finish: Another wave of heat arrives late and ushers in a light sense of old oak staves and cinnamon bark with a mild sense of apple tobacco and maybe some cedar kindling with a fleeting sense of leather and cherry stems.
This too is great over a single big rock. It also makes one hell of a Manhattan.
Nelson Bros. Whiskey Black Brier A Blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskeys Finished in Imperial Stout Casks
Average Price: $124
This whiskey takes Nelson Brother’s bourbon and re-loads it into beer casks for a special finish. The bourbon is re-filled into freshly emptied imperial stout casks from Blackstone Brewing Company for a final maturation before batching and bottling as-is.
Nose: There’s a fascinating balance of mocha lattes made with cream counterpointed by orange creamsicles on the nose with a deep and most vanilla white cake frosted with a whisper of Almond Joy icing.
Palate: Almost waxy cacao comes through on the palate before the almond and toasted coconut drive the taste toward Nutella-smeared croissants and a flutter of cinnamon-heavy mulled wine with a nice sweetness to it a whisper of dried red berries.
Finish: Cinnamon bark and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans come through late with a creamy sense of that Nutella and mocha latte layering into a faint burnt orange tobacco vibe.
This is tasty f*cking bourbon. You don’t really need to do anything besides pour it into a nice glass and enjoy it.
Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Double Double Oaked
Average Price: $59 (half bottle)
This very limited Wodford release only comes in half-bottles. The whiskey is made from the standard and stellar Woodford Double Oaked that’s then transferred to a finishing barrel for another whole year. The finish barrels are outdoor toasted for ages before being lightly charred. Finally, those barrels are batched to create this beloved Woodford release.
Nose: You’re transported to a backyard campfire with roasted marshmallows, caramel dipping sauce at the ready, and plenty of maple syrup wafting through next to a light sense of dried cherry and vanilla pods.
Palate: The sip leans into rich and woody winter spices as a dark fruity mid-palate brings tart and dry cherries, cranberries, and some huckleberries all cut with vanilla softness and buttery salted toffee.
Finish: The end leans into the toasted marshmallow, salted candy, and winter spices with a woody edge that’s part cedar kindling and part fresh orchard bark.
This is another one where all I can say is that it’s just really freaking good bourbon. Go get some.
Waterford Irish Single Malt Whisky Organic Gaia 2.1
Average Price: $95
This new release from The Arcadian Series is comprised of alt-barley (old-school barley strains) that were harvested back in 2016. The barley was grown by organic farmers specifically for this mash bill. The whiskey was then triple distilled and aged by Waterford to highlight the malted barley in the recipe.
Nose: The nose draws you in with a sense of sharp orange marmalade on freshly baked Southern buttermilk biscuits with a sense of mocha lattes, wet brown sugar, red grapes, figs, and marshmallows fresh from the bag.
Palate: The taste is less fruity but does lean into lemon zest and white pepper before drying out toward grapefruit pith, dark cacao powder, salted black licorice, and a hint of dry white toast.
Finish: There’s a sense of cinnamon bark and clove berries with that black licorice on the finish that leads back to the dark orange and a sweet sense of stewed peaches.
This is a bold and complex whiskey. It’s the type of whiskey you take some time with as a slow sipper so that you can plumb the deep depths of the profile.
Garrison Brothers Guadalupe
Average Price: $149
This Texas whiskey is hewn from 90 30-gallon barrels of four-year-old bourbon that were transferred into 26 59-gallon Tawny Port casks for a final maturation of over one year. That juice was then bottled as-is after a touch of water was added.
Nose: The nose on this bursts with raspberry, blackberry, redcurrant, and blueberry all stewed with plenty of holiday spices and folded into a cobbler topped with dense buttery buttermilk biscuits.
Palate: The palate leans into the spice with a focus on clove, nutmeg, and a very small whisper of anise as the berry turns more towards a fresh strawberry with dark chocolate-covered espresso beans chiming in on the mid-palate.
Finish: That chocolate-bitter vibe drives towards a finish full of cinnamon-spiked dark chocolate tobacco leaves, stewed plums, and a dollop of floral honey.
This is really tasty and a wonderful entry from Texas.
The GlenDronach Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Cask Strength Batch 11
Average Price: $100
The GlenDronach Cask Strength is a fantastic special release year after year. Batch 11 is another winner. The Highland whisky is matured over the years in both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. When those barrels hit just the right marks, they’re batched and the whisky is bottled completely as-is.
Nose: The nose opens with mulled red wine cut with tart and spicy cranberry compote, burnt orange, salted black licorice, malted honey cakes, and soft marzipan that’s all accented by a soft waft of clove tobacco.
Palate: The palate leans into the berry-fueled mulled wine as dark chocolate-covered espresso beans mingle with brandy-soaked raisins, salted toffee candies, and pancakes cut with cinnamon apple butter and plenty of maple syrup.
Finish: The end jukes with a brash bitter orange peel that leads to plum jamminess, creamy vanilla sauce, and a hint of cinnamon bark dipped in apple cider with honey cake on the side.
This is mouthwateringly good whisky. It also has a very rich bourbon vibe that helps this transcend genre definitions a little bit. I love it neat, but you might want to add a rock to help is get really creamy and bourbon-y.
Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash 2022
Average Price: $7,000 (MSRP)
The fourth ever Michter’s Celebration release — and the first one since 2019 — is finally here. The bottle was slightly delayed, making it a February 2023 release this time around. This American whiskey is a collaboration between Michter’s Master Distiller Dan McKee and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson. The duo chose seven whiskeys for this special blend that ranged from twelve to thirty-plus years old. Those barrels were batched and bottled without any cutting with water, creating only 328 bottles for the whole world.
Nose: The nose subtly opens with a sense of dark chocolate cut with brown butter, Saigon cinnamon bark, and a light note of crème brûlée made with just a drop of cognac.
Palate: That boozy vanilla opens the luxurious palate toward a dusting of winter spices — clove, anise, nutmeg — next to stewed peached and burnt orange over singed marshmallows, old smoldering hickory, and orchards full of falling leaves next to whisper of creamy black cherry and candied pecans.
Finish: Those pecans meld with woody maple syrup, more cinnamon bark, orange-studded cloves, and a sense of bushels of orchard fruits mixed with nuts and dried fruits in an old wooden basket and wrapped with thick old twine and leather next to a spiced chocolate-cherry tobacco leaf dropped in the middle of it all.
No notes. It’s a perfect whiskey from some true masters. Deep. Complex. Enticing. This will win awards and be on year-end lists.