Since launching a few years back we have been continually impressed with the work from seventh generation distillers Steve and Paul Beam at the Limestone Branch Distillery. Yellowstone Select is one of the best everyday bourbons on our shelves, offering a pleasant balance of rye spice and sweet barrel notes at a respectable 93 proof. The Whiskey Hotline’s first barrel picks of this underrated sipper arrived this week and all show the balance and age that we fell in love with in the regular release.
On the nose spiced pear and apricot jam with a splash of toffee and honey over cinnamon bark. On the palate, fruit turns more towards red berry and poached pear with a shot of oak and baking spice. The finish is pleasant with caramel sauce on baked orchard fruits fading slowly into warming cinnamon spice.
On the nose marshmallow, baked peach and cherry pastry with caramel, cinnamon sticks and clove. On the palate, honey drizzled stone fruits and red berry, toffee bar, cocoa powder, and oak spice. The finish is solid with chocolatey confections mingling with baked fruits before fading into cinnamon candy. A gorgeous bourbon.
Oak char and baked apple pie lead on the nose with a bed of peach, vanilla lanolin, caramel-toffee, and oak. On the palate, baked apple and peach cobbler with clove and cinnamon alongside vanilla hard candy. The finish is lengthy with sweeter fruit flavors fading into drier oak spice.
Handpicked single barrel season continues in full effect at your local Binny’s with a bounty of barrels from Heaven Hill arriving as well. If you’re looking for an exclusive and limited wheated bourbon this fall our handpicked Larceny barrels offer outstanding value. 6 more handpicked barrels of Elijah Craig have also arrived, all displaying the grain, fruit and wood complexity we look for with that brand at a range of ages. Yields on these Elijah barrels were low and selection varies by store.
The nose is robust with vanilla cream and buttered corn alongside poached pear, toffee, and cinnamon. On the palate, peach tart and apple curd with cinnamon sticks, toffee, and vanilla candies. The finish is enduring with spice and fruit fading in unison.
The nose shows caramel sauce and orchard fruit skins with vanilla bean, peach candy and oak spice. On the palate, peach and pear take charge with caramel, toffee, and clove providing balance to the blast of fruit. The finish is gorgeous with thick layers of caramel, spices, and baked peach fading slowly.
On the nose, baked peaches and apricots with buttered toast. The palate is rich and fruity with caramel sauce and vanilla honey swimming in baked fruits. The finish starts with initial bursts of fruit before fading in cinnamon and anise candies. A perfectly balanced bourbon.
Vanilla custard and red berry tart on the nose with a soft dose of oak spice. The palate reveals apricot honey, toffee bar, caramel corn, with a hint of poached pear jelly and anise. The finish is fruity initially, then fades into oak spice.
Buttered cinnamon apples, marshmallow, oak spice and browned butter. On the palate honeyed orchard fruits and cardamom arrive. The finish shows a wonderful balance between fruit and spice. Gorgeous bourbon.
On the nose, fresh red apple and mint sprig with peach blossom, wildflower honey, buttered cereal grains and vanilla wafer with red berry. On the palate, apple cider reduction with butter and toffee. The finish is long and dominated by lush fruit. Dangerously drinkable.
Buttered peach laden nose with baking spices, caramel corn, roasted marshmallow and oak spice. On the palate, peach nectar and apricot with caramel and vanilla wafer and a touch of clove. The finish is soft and easy with fruit dominating throughout as oak spice lingers beneath. A delightful dram.
On the nose warm brioche, apple sautéed in butter, chocolate toffee, apple skins, powdered cinnamon and pepper. On the palate apple and pear lead with a robust entrance before giving way to vanilla taffy, cinnamon sticks, caramel, and woody spice. The finish is lengthy with fruit fading slowly into clove and anise with a tingle of cardamom.
When thinking single malt whisky, it’s not likely that Texas is the first thing to come to mind. But, those in the know, know Balcones. This Waco, Texas craft pioneer has won dozens of awards for their single malt whisky over the past decade, at times generating far more buzz and demand than supply could match. The distillery has grown and expanded considerably over the last few years and thankfully there’s now enough juice for a barrel program. Balcones has been aging their malt whiskies in a variety of barrels and we were able to pick two that highlight both the quality of the distillate and the variety of oak flavor and aroma. Of course they are natural cask strength and non-chillfiltered as well.
The nose is reminiscent of Christmas cake with a lush bouquet of peach blossom and nectar with brown spices and a kiss of pepper. On the palate, the peach nectar is back and layered elegantly over floral notes with a little hint of licorice and peppercorn. The finish is solid with spice taking charge over the juicy fruit notes. Lush and round with bold spice, a masterclass in malt.
On the nose fresh peach compote stands out layered with red cherry, clove, cardamom, mint, and faint black pepper. On the palate spice explodes in the form of cardamom and black peppercorn but the juicy stone fruits the nose promised give breadth and balance as the whisky coats the mouth. The finish is long with rich baking spice spiked peaches fading into a very floral and herbal bouquet. Just gorgeous whisky made with unmistakable care and quality.
The latest limited release from the cult favorite Orkney distiller was aged in a combination of bourbon barrels and Rioja wine casks. Honeyed and toffee sweetness on the nose with lush elements of baked peach and berries as oak spice and faint smoke linger underneath. On the palate dried red berries and peach candy with vanilla lanolin, whiffs of smoke and clove with a touch of cardamom. The finish is lovely with orchard fruit and spice fading together slowly. The wine cask gives some bright fruit flavors not usually found in Highland park with a touch of a drying vinous note. A Tattoo you won’t mind committing too.
Hold the door, new collectible limited releases from Johnnie Walker and Game of Thrones are still arriving. A Song of Fire incorporates more smoky malts from Caol Ila in the blend to add some fire to the sweet malty character. Toffee and vanilla on the nose with a succulent bouquet of poached pear, green apple, and oak spice. On the palate, a soft splash of peat enters the game with rich caramel coated stewed fruits and clove. A song of Ice highlights malts from Clynelish, one of the northernmost distilleries in Scotland. Clynelish gives sweet, waxy fruit notes to the supple and balanced blend. Grassy and herbal on the nose with a pleasant shot of apricot and honey with a touch of roasted nuts. The palate is round and pleasant with apricot and lemon while vanilla custard and oak spice linger underneath. The finish on both of these whiskies is more thoughtful and complex than the final season.
This is a straight forward bourbon showing nice fruit and spice in balance with sweet oak notes. While you might fear the bite of the dead, you don’t need to fear any bite from this gentle whiskey. On the nose classic corn puddin’ and oak spice mingle with ripe apple and pear. Those orchard fruits take a distinctive caramelized turn on the palate with balancing notes of vanilla and pepper. That balance continues into a slowly fading finish. A necessary supply for any bunker that is easily enjoyed neat or in an elevated cocktail. A worthy pour to toast the loss of so many of our favorite characters.
As cold brew has continued its march towards coffee dominance, it was only a matter of time before our caffeine crazed populous started putting the stuff into various spirits. The lower acid, smooth and concentrated brew is perfect when infused into strong spirit flavors. We’ve got several new cold brew infused and inspired spirits on the shelves and one theme unites them all, they are definitely worth drinking.
The latest from FEW is also one of their greatest. When bourbon is put into a barrel for aging it is almost always at a higher proof then what it will be bottled at, up to 125 proof. On top of that most bourbons slightly increase in alcoholic strength over the time they age thanks to water evaporating through the porous oak. Whiskies are “proofed down” with water prior to bottling to get them to the more palatable drinking proofs. Standard operating procedure isn’t exactly FEW’s thing, so they proofed this one down using cold brew coffee and it’s one of the most surprisingly delicious whiskies we’ve had all year.
Two simple ingredients, bourbon and coffee. Come to think of it, that’s all we drink anyway. On the nose the coffee is hiding as this only smells like a big, bold bourbon. Peach skins, red cherry, baked apple, caramel sauce, toffee, vanilla candy and oak spice. On the palate baked orchard fruits emerge with vanilla-toffee, dark chocolate and clove. On the finish, roasted coffee is finally revealed alongside more candied vanilla notes, baked peach and apple, dark chocolate and anise. The perfect coffee for bourbon lovers everywhere.
More along the lines of what we’d expect from a flavored whiskey is Red Eye Rye. Red Eye takes the 95% rye whiskey we all know and love and adds 100% Arabica coffee from South America and some sugar to create this delight. Bottled at a full 80 proof and free of caramel coloring and other additives. This is flavored whiskey the way it should be.
Rye Whiskey + Arabica Coffee + granulated sugar = a delicious whiskey alternative. On the nose rye spice is evident with pepper notes and a nicely matched element of roasted coffee and hazelnut. On the palate, lovely coffee flavors dominate initially before a surge in rye spice and vanilla candies arrive as a pleasant ballast. Roasted nuts and spicy rye highlight the finish after an initial burst of dark roasted coffee.
As any craft spirits fan will likely tell you, the coffee liqueurs made by craft distillers the world over have almost always been FAR superior to their big brand counterparts. Mr. Black Cold Brew, hailing from the land down under, is one of the best coffee liqueurs the Hotline has ever had. The base spirit is a wheat vodka that is blended with about 10 times more coffee and half the sugar of the big coffee liqueur brands.
In most cases the word liqueur would indicate that the product will be full of lots of yummy sugar, but it’s kept in check here. The nose is full of rich coffee flavors and bittersweet chocolate. On the palate, coffee is in charge with rich espresso flavors, dark cacao, vanilla bean, and a soft nutty note. The finish is full of robust Arabica coffee flavors and espresso with a soft undertone of sweet vanilla.
Way back in early March, the Whiskey Hotline team made the long trip out to Park City, Utah to visit the High West Distillery. We’ve been selecting single barrel finishes of their whiskies for years but this time was different. We were on the ground floor of the selection process for the whole country. We sat down with Master Distiller Brendan Coyle to evaluate every barrel that was to be potentially released for the private selection program. We traversed 2,756 miles roundtrip so that we could have the pick of the litter. With this unfettered access and a highly detailed process of tasting and note taking, we were able to narrow down our final selection of 6 stunners from a pool of 25 standouts. Bottled at full strength, these two bourbons and four ryes are a must for fans of High West and fans of flavor. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed selecting them.
High West American Prairie Straight Bourbon Single Barrel #12118 Finished 1 year 4 months in ex Brandy Cask Binny's Handpicked
On the nose toffee, caramel wafer, dehydrated peach, buttered cereal grains, and oak spice. On the palate peach preserves arrive with mint and cardamom. The mouthfeel is rich and viscous, and the finish is spicy and tingly before fading into pleasant warmth and peach-grape jelly with anise. Decadent and delicious.
High West American Prairie Straight Bourbon Barrel #12862 Finished 1 year 2 months in ex Petite Syrah Cask Binny's Handpicked
Wine is evident on the nose, but not as a detractor to the strong bourbon backbone. Dark stewed fruits, corn puddin’, baking spices, marshmallow, oak spice and a prominent vinous note. On the palate fruit intensifies right along with classic bourbon flavors of sweet corn, vanilla and caramel. The finish is soft and round with sweeter fruit flavors fading slowly. Clove and black pepper linger and act to balance out the fruit. A lush bourbon.
The nose is enticing with rich rye spice and ripe grape flavors marrying perfectly in balance. Sweeter flavors of vanilla icing and toffee are in the background with sweet baking spices. On the palate the wine notes initially lead before giving way to robust wintergreen, vanilla cream, toffee, and cinnamon. The finish fades from rich fruit and dry spice into a lingering sweetness. Rich and well layered.
Rum finished, but on the nose, rye is totally in charge with lovely doses of wintergreen. Sweeter rum flavors linger underneath providing a rich and textured experience with demerara, ripe fruits and cinnamon. On the palate fat and rich demerara flavors are balanced evenly with robust wintergreen as jellied orchard fruit and oak spice lie underneath. The finish is lengthy with sweet and spice fading away together over time. Just about as good as it gets.
High West Double Rye Single Barrel #9192 Finished 1 year 10 months in ex Scotch Cask Binny's Handpicked
On the nose, whiffs of peat mingle nicely with minty rye spice, vanilla-honey, cinnamon sticks, citrus candies, toffee and baking spice. On the palate baked orchard fruit and wintergreen burst through before peat arrives to take charge. The finish begins with a mild shot of earthy peat before the fruit and sweeter flavors return and lasts for quite a while as sweet and spice finally fade away together. A rye for the Islay drinkers.
High West Double Rye Single Barrel #11263 Finished 1 year 8 months in ex Armagnac Cask Binny's Handpicked
The nose is pleasantly herbal as minty rye spice and a sweet and earthy Armagnac note dance. Baked plum, raisin, mint sprig, white grape jelly, dehydrated orange, vanilla lanolin, cardamom and oak spice slowly waft from the glass. On the palate a lovely caramel and butterscotch element arrives to dance with wintergreen and dark stewed fruits on the tongue. The mouthfeel is quite round and viscous. The finish follows what the palate started as rye spice fades before layered dried fruits and pleasing oak spice prevail. A gorgeously rich rye perfect for sipping neat.
The first release in the highly anticipated new “Wood Finishing” series from Maker’s Mark has arrived. RC6 is named after the special stave used to enhance some of the characteristic Maker’s flavors such as fruit and baking spices. These staves were air seasoned for 18 months and then toasted in a convection oven. The whiskey started out as standard cask strength Maker’s but 10 of these special RC6 staves were added to each barrel for a finishing period, enhancing the classic Maker’s notes of fruit, spice and gentle sweetness.
On the nose baked tart apples, caramel sauce, toffee, vanilla bean, and baking spices. The palate highlights the intended fruit notes with baked orchard fruits, caramel-toffee candy, allspice, vanilla cream, chocolate wafer and sweet toasted oak. The finish is lengthy with oak and baking spice eventually winning out over baked apples, chocolate cream, red berry, toffee and caramel candies.
This story starts in a similar fashion almost every year, a rainy May day in the quaint vacation town of Pitlochry, Scotland. Pitlochry is at the southern end of the Cairngorm mountain range and looks like a storybook Scottish village. Sheep everywhere, buildings that are centuries older than anything we see here and thin, winding, stone-lined roads. Just outside the village lies one of the quintessential Scottish distilleries, the Edradour distillery, also home to the Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Company. Thanks to our long relationship with the team there we’re able to taste through dozens and dozens of casks every year looking for the best and most interesting to be bottled as Binny’s handpicks. This year’s crop produced stunners from some of our favorite distilleries as well as some newcomers in the world of Binny’s handpicked casks. Signatory’s quality and price have always been second to none and we’re proud to have the Binny’s name on these excellent casks of whisky.
These first 3 barrels are really fun, especially if you enjoy bourbon as much as you enjoy Scotch as all were aged in first fill bourbon barrels. We find that if you can separate out the bourbon-influenced flavors, you can really drill down to the essence of what each of these distilleries produce and get to the heart of their unique distillates. For the aficionado, these are fun to taste against similar aged bottlings from the respective distilleries and see how cask influence changes the character of the whisky. This guides us to a deeper understanding of what part barrel types play in the overall profile.
This is a very welcoming malt on the nose with familiar flavors of vanilla and toffee, honeyed cereal grains, stone fruit and clove. On the palate sweet and floral malt, ripe fruits, a subtle salinity, fresh melon and toasted oak. The finish is gentle but lasting as sweet oak spices add depth to the continued ripe notes of stone fruit with a kiss of melon lingering.
Fat and rich on the nose with caramel, vanilla cream, buttered malt, marshmallow and oak spice. The palate is thick and chewy, very typical of Mortlach, with a buttery and rich character. Baked orchard fruits provide some brightness and are paired with vanilla cream and sweet spice. The enduring finish starts with spice before fading into sweet malt and fruit. A perfectly balanced malt.
Candied vanilla marshmallow on the nose with a bed of peach, red berry, toffee, candy wafers, and oak spice. On the palate buttered fruit, toffee, vanilla wafer, and toasted oak. The finish starts with a robust dose of anise before fading into sweet fruit and vanilla. A gorgeous malt.
This Benrinnes is everything we’re looking for in a Binny’s handpicked cask of single malt. A distillery otherwise unavailable stateside? Check. An exceptional value? Check. Mature, bottled at cask strength and non chillfiltered? Check, check and check.
The nose is dense and complex but inviting with a mix of peach sherbet, rich toasted oak, creme brulee, caramel crisps, and sweet oak spice. The rich layers of fruit complexity continue onto the palate with baked peach, plum, vanilla cream, toffee, and baking spice intertwined in harmony with a very viscous mouthfeel. The finish is lengthy with sweet and spice battling it out before finally drifting away into baked fruits. Maybe the best value in the Scotch aisle.
We always look out for the peat heads too, and we dug up two spectacular barrels of peated treasure on this trip. First, we have one of the only bottlings of Staoisha available in the United States. Staoisha is a new, very heavily peated distillate from the Bunnahabhain distillery. While age often leads to deeper and more nuanced malts, youth can be a bonus for heavily peated whisky, allowing ripe and bright fruit notes to balance some of the heavier and meatier flavors. Case in point, this four year old is dark, rich, and explosively peaty. We find that single digit malts from Islay are some of the very best in the world, especially from Hotline favorite distillery, Caol Ila. This particular 9 year bottling exhibits a lot of what we love so much about Caol Ila, loads of smoke balanced by fruit and spice. Reminiscent of a seaside barbecue on Islay’s salty coast.
The peat cannot be missed on the nose, but underneath there are honeyed caramel wafers, vanilla bean, guava and mango, red berry, and charred oak spice. The fruits and smoke continue to mingle opn the palate of smoked guava and mango, sea spray, caramel and vanilla candy and a dash of cinnamon powder. The finish starts with caramelized fruit before spice takes over and fades into smoldering embers of peat. A perfect Islay delight.
On the nose charred lemon, caramelized vanilla cream, honeyed cereal grains, caramel candy, seaweed, salted butter, waves of peat smoke, and oak spice. On the palate, baked pear and lemon with rich vanilla-honey, peat smoke, sea salt, seaweed, and more baking spices. The finish is pleasantly smoky with fruit and smoke fading slowly as oak creeps in. Easily the best bottle of Caol Ila in our stores.
Introducing the newest member of our Clark & Sheffield family, Small Batch Bourbon. Clark & Sheffield Small Batch bourbon hails from Sazerac’s Bardstown, KY distillery and is 5 years old and 90 proof. A versatile whiskey equally at home on the rocks or in your favorite cocktail and is maybe the best deal in our ever-expanding bourbon aisle. A gentle and flavorful sipper, and a full flavored but budget priced mixer, this bourbon does it all. At only $24.99 for a 1.75 liter this is our new home bar staple.
Cherries, brown sugar, pepper and vanilla are all layered throughout the robust nose. The soft and round palate brings a touch more sweetness with strong vanilla, caramelized sugars and sweet corn. Cinnamon and clove build gradually giving balance to the sweeter flavors throughout the long finish.