Conventional wisdom says that when warm weather arrives after a long, cold winter, it’s time to put away the whiskey and switch to clear spirits like gin, vodka and blanco tequila. But the conventional wisdom is wrong here; good whiskey (and whisky) can and should be enjoyed all year long, especially when there are so many new releases of high quality that are hitting the shelves. Whiskey sales continue to soar in all categories, and distilleries are keeping pace by releasing new products with different mash bills, barrel finishes and age statements. Here are some notable recent releases in bourbon, scotch, Irish and other whiskey categories that you can enjoy neat or mixed in a cocktail.
Ragtime Rye Bottled in Bond ($50)
New York Distilling Company’s Ragtime Rye, a 2-year-old rye whiskey made from a mash bill of 72% rye, first hit shelves in 2015. The new Bottled in Bond version has been in the works for seven years, according to the founder Allen Katz. Per the definition of bottled in bond, the whiskey is at least 4 years old, bottled at 100 proof and is the product of one distilling season at one distillery. It also fits the definition of the newly established Empire Rye category, which means it’s produced entirely in New York state with a mash bill of at least 75% rye grown in New York and aged for at least two years. The whiskey is light and crisp, but has an added sweetness and body from a few more years in the barrel than the 2-year-old.
Jack Daniel’s Reunion Barrel ($40)
Jack Daniel’s isn’t just the biggest name in Tennessee whiskey; Old No. 7 is also one of the best-selling whiskey brands in the entire world. Lately the distillery has been releasing some new expressions, including a trio of distillery-exclusive whiskeys (also available at select stores in Tennessee). The latest of these is Reunion Barrel, a 90-proof Tennessee whiskey that was finished in wine barrels. These barrels were originally used to mature Jack Daniel’s, then used to age Tennessee wine before finally returning to the distillery to be refilled with whiskey. Look for the classic Jack flavor amplified by big notes of berry and stone fruit.
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