Bardstown Bourbon Co. Founders Collaboration

Alcohol Professor: 7 of the Best Whiskey Releases of Spring 2022

Here’s my most recent piece for Alcohol Professor on some of the newest bourbon and whiskey releases this spring.


Spring has certainly sprung in the whiskey world, with new releases pushing up through the soil quicker than I can remove winter’s gook. There once was one big release period in the fall, but it seems nobody’s holding back their bourbon-soaked bounty for that anymore. So let’s take a look at some of the latest crop looking for a little sunshine and sippin’.

Angel’s Envy Rye Whiskey Finished In Ice Cider Casks

Angel's Envy Cider bottle

107 Proof | $249.99

In 2013, Angel’s Envy came out with rye whiskey finished in Caribbean rum casks that was — and still is — phenomenal. There truly is nothing at all like it in the marketplace today, so it’s no surprise they didn’t mess with it for nine years. Until now. As part of the Cellar Collection, this release finishes the Angel’s Envy rye (sans the Caribbean rum) in ice cider casks from Vermont-based Eden Specialty Ciders for 364 days.

The rye whiskey is 7 years old, so it’s solid even without the cider finish. You definitely get that hint of apple on the nose, and then once you sink your teeth in — er, I mean sip â€” it’s like Grandma’s apple pie. Straight up baked apple with drizzles of caramel, sprinkles of cinnamon and even some roasted cashews thrown into the mix. The price tag is a bit steep on this one, but if you’re a rye and cider fan, this is your golden goose.   

Uncle Nearest

Uncle Nearest bottle
Unc

118.4 proof | $149

Uncle Nearest Tennessee Whiskey first came onto the scene in 2017, and as founders Fawn Weaver and company conceptualized the welcoming distillery in Shelbyville, Tenn., they were smart to lay down some of their own distillate before ground was ever broken.

Now, that whiskey is about 5 years old, and the company will be switching over to that juice, which is 100-percent distilled, aged and bottled by Uncle Nearest. They’ll also be adding to their lineup of offerings, including some rye whiskeys, but first they celebrated the milestone with the release of the Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition, which is only available at the distillery.

There’s a reason Uncle Nearest is the most awarded American whiskey company for the last few years, and once you pop the top on this bottle, you’ll know why. The whiskey titillates with butter pecan, dark fruit and toffee notes — and that’s just in the aroma. The flavors are very impressive for a 5-year-old whiskey, and the notes I just mentioned are all heightened in that first sip, along with hints of butterscotch and caramel corn. The whiskey is thick and leaves you thirsty for more.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Collaborative Series: KBS Stout

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Founders Collaboration

110 proof | $159.99

The latest in Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Collaborative Series has them teaming up with the beloved Michigan beer company Founders Brewing. The finished whiskey began as a 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon and then was put into Founders Brewing KBS Stout Barrels for 15 months. As with most of these collaborations, the results are phenomenal. 

This is one that reveals new flavors with each sip. On the nose you get wonderful notes of coffee, cocoa and orange peel, most likely from the stout finish. And then that first sip explodes with black cherry, dark chocolate and even more coffee. It may sound complex, but the bourbon and the stout have intermingled well, making it a fun experiment and treat for both beer and bourbon lovers. I’m thinking about adding this to my coffee to see if those mocha notes come out even more.

15 Stars Timeless Reserve

15 Stars bottle

103 proof | $279

This is the newest bourbon to hit store shelves (in Kentucky only, sorry folks), and yet it’s the oldest one at 14 years old. 15 Stars is a new brand named in honor of America’s 15th state — you guessed it, Kentucky!

The father and son team of Rick and Ricky Johnson sourced barrels for this blend, called Timeless Reserve, and they recently revealed the website, which also highlights many historical artifacts from 1795. Although Kentucky was founded in 1792, it took three more years for a 15-star flag to debut.

The Johnsons will continue to put out sourced blends as well as some of their own bourbons and whiskeys they’ve distilled with the help of Bardstown Bourbon Co. using various types of heirloom corn.

At a perfect and deliberate 103 proof, this Kentucky bourbon truly is timeless, reminding you just how delicate and nuanced whiskey can be as it ages on past a decade. You get a little of that oak on the nose, along with a nice maple and butterscotch. And after that first sip, it’s a spring bouquet of fresh flavors bursting in your mouth. It’s got that viscous mouthfeel from its time in the oak, plus a few dark chocolate and roasted almond notes, along with hints of sweet vanilla and warm caramel. It’s a high price point, but it’s 14 years old!

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

World's Top Whiskey Taster winner

Buy me bourbon: Preparing for the World’s Top Whiskey Taster competition

Back all the way in September, I was in a regional competition for the Bardstown Bourbon Company‘s “World’s Top Whiskey Taster” title.

Somehow I beat out a handful of talented and fierce competitors that evening, and now I plan to bring the title home to Kentucky as I compete against nine others from around the country on Saturday, Nov. 14.

To say I’m nervous and apprehensive is an understatement, but again, just like in the last challenge, I’m trying to harness the powers of confidence and raw bourbon tasting to give it my best.

And that’s where you come in.

If you see me out, please buy me a bourbon or whiskey of your choice (no need to break the bank or anything), but don’t tell me what it is. Make me guess the proof, or the age, or even what type of whiskey it might be. If you buy me Fireball, though, I might give you the evil eye from 6 feet away.

World's Top Whiskey Taster winner

Of course I’m not relying on the kindness of strangers (and friends) to prepare for this competition. I’ve been holed up in my bourbon bunker day and night practicing.

My brother who lives in Texas even sent me four blind samples — all from the Buffalo Trace family — and it was tough sorting them out.

If you have any ideas on other methods to practice, please feel free to reach out! Hell, I’ve been preparing for this competition since I turned 21 — OK, 19 — so I feel like I have a shot.

I just can’t let my nerves and second guesses get the best of me.

The competition won’t be broadcast live this time — to see my first competition, click here or watch below — but a video will be available later with the competitions and results.

Wish me luck!

Now back to tasting …

Sara Havens at a competition

Wish me luck and tune in tonight for Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Top Whiskey Taster competition

Whiskey Taster contest photo

Let’s go!

The time is here and the training is over. The World’s Top Whiskey Taster regionals for the Kentucky market will take place tonight at 6 p.m., and yours truly will be shitting her pants as she competes against five other badass bourbonites.

You can tune in for free at the Bardstown Bourbon Company‘s Facebook page or YouTube channel.

I’ve gotta answer four questions about mystery samples I’ve been sent, and then present a flight of three whiskeys to the judges with a three-minute time limit.

Just hoping nerves won’t get the best of me.

I’ve gotta go big, or else I’ll go home … well, I’ll stay at home actually. I’ll already be at home. OK, never mind.

Wish me luck!

Sara Havens at a competition

Drink up, y’all … I made it to Round 2 of the World’s Top Whiskey Taster!

Whiskey Taster contest photo

There’s my name!

Remember back in June when I posted a video about wanting to be the World’s Top Whiskey Taster? Well, turns out I made it to Round 2 of the contest, which is being run by Bardstown Bourbon Company.

Now, I have to prove my whiskey-sipping skills to a team of judges in a tough competition against five other Kentucky contenders. It all goes down Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 6-8 p.m., and you all are invited to watch, because it’ll be broadcast live via the Bardstown Bourbon Co. Facebook page and/or YouTube channel.

I could use some positive vibes and words of encouragement, because I know my competitors are fierce and fabulous.

I’ve been practicing just about every night for the past two weeks, and I’m concocting one of the best flights ever assembled in the whiskey world. (I’m also trying to work on my confidence, so that was a pretty good attempt at it.)

The competition will include four questions about various mystery samples we’ve been sent, and then we present our flights to the judges in three minutes or less.

This is the Kentucky finals round, and there will be similar competitions in nine other regions. So if I win this one, I still have to battle against the best nine. Yikes!

So what exactly are we battling for? Well, the winner will get $20,000 with a contract to represent Bardstown Bourbon Co. as a Distillery Ambassador at some of the country’s top whiskey festivals in 2021, including WhiskyFest and Whiskies of the World. The winner also will receive a scholarship to Moonshine University’s Executive Bourbon Steward program and will get to blend a custom product with Bourbon Hall of Famer and Master Distiller Steve Nally.

The latter is what I’d be most excited about, well, besides the cash money.

Anyway, wish me luck, and tune in Wednesday night if you can!