Talk about taking a shtick and running with it, Dutch distiller Zuidam’s Millstone 100 rye is made from 100% rye grain (49% malted, 51% unmalted) distilled in small copper pot stills, and then is aged for 100 months (8 years, 4 months) in new American oak barrels, and then bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV). The marketing slogans almost write themselves.
This is an exemplar of the category of unpeated single malts aged exclusively in ex-bourbon. Unlike some other Speyside ex-bourbon malts, which are more like blank canvases that need a little sherry to bring them to their full potential, The BenRiach 12 showcases the twin effects of good ex-bourbon aging: clarity of grain and sweetness of oak.
The “other” Diageo Bourbon, I.W. Harper is another resurrected brand. The Bernheim brothers began selling I.W. Harper in 1879 and it has been (like most Bourbon brands) sold several times since. It saw a 20-year hiatus in the US, although it has been sold continuously in Japan. Now, Diageo is bringing it back in two forms.
Upstart farm distillery Kilchoman has added a new single malt to its permanent portfolio, next to one of my favorites, Machir Bay. Kilchoman specializes in pristine craft peated malt that is remarkable for being excellent at a young age – like 3 or 4 years young. Like Machir Bay, this is partially sherry-aged. In Sanaig’s case, it’s an extra 10 months of aging in oloroso sherry casks.
…both bourbons are made from a mashbill of 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley (for enzymes). At more than twice the price of its NAS sibling, the 10-year is essentially the same juice, but aged for a full 10 years in charred white American oak barrels and bottled at a very slightly higher 91.2 proof (45.6% ABV).
The West Cork Distillery is a new (opened in 2003 as an experimental “pet project” and then expanded to its current location in 2013) and actually independent Irish distiller, unlike the previous poster-child for Irish (whiskey) independence, Cooley, which sold to Beam Suntory in 2011. Among other things, West Cork bottles this blend and a 10 year-old Irish Single Malt.
This NAS (no-age-statement) bottling combines Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks with a “heart” of Ardbeg finished in “dark sherry” casks. No details on how they’re defining “dark sherry” (or “heart” for that matter), but the Internet has decided this means heavily-seasoned sherry casks. The result is bottled without chill-filtration at 46.5% ABV.
I tasted a sample of Verso rye whisky from the Kyrö Distillery Company in Finland that was collected from bottle in April of 2015. This is a 100% malted rye whisky aged for only four months in very small new American white oak casks and bottled at 46.5% ABV. The distillery, which makes several products all from rye grain, began distilling in 2014 in a refurbished cheese factory.
Superstition is Jura’s house malt but heavily peated (although the bottle says “lightly” peated, I would lump it in with fully peated malts like Laphroaig and Talisker) and aged in ex-bourbon casks. It’s quite reasonably priced, at $50 – $60, which is the new $40, didn’t you know?
The Wyoming Whiskey small batch wheated bourbon is distilled from a mashbill of corn, wheat, and barley and is aged in new charred white oak barrels for five years (or so – there’s no age statement on the bottle). Then it’s bottled at 44% ABV and retails for around $40. They source all of their grain from Wyoming farms growing Non-GMO corn, wheat, and barley.