The Best New Whiskeys to Drink This May

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By Kirk Miller

Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whisk(e)y. This month: New releases from Jefferson’s, Laws Whiskey House and Metallica’s Blackened.

Jefferson’s Ocean RyeJefferson’s

Jefferson’s Ocean Rye

The first rye expression in Jefferson’s Aged at Sea line, where barrels are put on ships and sent around the world to get “hyper-aged” (and survive hurricane season). This rye was aged 4-5 years in new char 3 bourbon barrels, then double barreled in a split between new char 3 and new toasted barrels. The “buttery caramel popcorn” notes you’ll find in the previous 25 Aged at Sea releases is present here, but the warm spice of the rye is never lost (particularly on the nose). A standout in a long-running series of excellence.

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Mercer + PrinceMercer + Prince

Mercer + Prince

A$AP Rocky — who is going through some things — is an American rapper releasing a blended Canadian whisky. In other words, he’s doing the exact opposite of Drake (Canadian rapper, Virginia Black American whiskey). The unusual square bottle here is actually a “two-cup” design; the liquid, meanwhile, is distilled, aged and blended in Canada and aged for a minimum of four ages in American white oak barrels, but also with a “hint” of Japanese Mizunara oak. That hint is certainly adding a bit of spice and dryness to the mouthfeel, which otherwise features notes of apple, cinnamon, vanilla and brown sugar. It’s solid, particularly for its $30 price tag — just use a real glass, ok?

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Two new bonded releases from Laws Whiskey HouseLaws Whiskey House

Laws Whiskey House

The Denver distillery has just released the sixth annual edition of their Bonded Four Grain Bourbon and the third edition of their Bonded San Luis Valley Rye. The Four Grain leans into that rye spice but also offers a creamy mouthfeel and a dry finish — it’s unique and should offer up new experiences with each sip. The rye, meanwhile, is bold, peppery and a bit fruity. If you like your ryes spicy, take this one up.

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Castle & Key Small Batch BourbonCastle & Key

Castle & Key Small Batch Bourbon

The first-ever bourbon to be released by the Castle & Key team since restoring the Old Taylor Distillery in 2014, this release is actually two releases. With Batch #1, out now, I got butterscotch candy and a bit of orange on the nose, while the liquid is full of dark fruits (for me, that was a random hint of raspberry), caramel and baking spices. It’s a great start, and Batch #2 — which apparently shows a bit more of the oak’s influence — will be out early this month.

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Blackened Rye the LightningBlackened

Blackened Rye the Lightning

The latest limited-edition release from the Metallica whiskey brand was inspired by the band’s sophomore album, Ride the Lightning; the expression is double finished in Madeira and rum casks and undergoes the “Black Noise” sonic-enhancement process. The rye isn’t lost, but the additional maturation gives this a sweet and almost syrupy feel, with notes of dried fig, honey and grassy sugarcane.

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Barrell Bourbon Batch 32Barrell Craft Spirits

And five more:

  • If I haven’t praised the recently-released Barrell Bourbon Batch 32 yet, it’s because everything these guys do is exceptional. It’s a beguiling blend of straight bourbon whiskeys (5, 6, 7 and 10-year-old barrels) distilled and aged in TN, KY and IN, and bottled at cask strength (115.34 proof). Somehow, you’ll get everything from cherry to ginger to wasabi to brown butter, with a hint of grassiness.
  • The Glenrothes just announced the release of 168 bottles of a 36-year-old single malt that was quite good (think tropical fruit, oak, vanilla); each bottle includes a non-fungible token (NFT) designed by The New Yorker illustrator Maddie Dai.
  • Dough Ball is a cookie dough flavored whiskey. I tried it, and that’s … exactly what it is. Very, very sweet.
  • The Glendronach just released their Cask Bottling Batch 19 casks, which are three casks laid down between 1992 and 1994 and bottled from Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks. Which extremely limited-edition bottle you can get from these three casks depends on what state you live in.
  • Note: Old Elk (wheated) and Jack Daniel’s (bottled in bond) have some fantastic new releases that I’ll get more in-depth on in the next two weeks.

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