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 — 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.

Green River Bottle

The revival of Green River Bourbon

Green River Distilling
Green River Distilling is in Owensboro, Ky. | Courtesy

I’m going to admit something that I’m extremely embarrassed about. I have never visited Owensboro, Ky., and I’ve lived in the bluegrass state going on 23 years. I have no excuse, but now, I have a really good reason to head west. Green River Distilling Co. in the ‘Boro has revived a long-lost bourbon brand called Green River Bourbon.

Before Prohibition, Owensboro was actually bustling with bourbon production, and there were more than 20 distilleries in the city. In fact, the Green River Distilling Co. is the 10th oldest distillery in the state.

And while it changed names and owners several times throughout the past century — O.Z. Tyler, Old Medley, etc. — the current owners of the distillery quickly restored its original name once they learned of the site’s rich past.

The original Green River Distilling was founded in 1885 by John W. McCulloch. According to a news release, he was a traveling man who loved to tout his bourbon wherever his path took him.

Green River Bourbon was known as one of the finest Kentucky bourbons in the world, and it even won several international awards, including a gold medal and “best of show” at the Paris Exposition in 1900, and later a grand prize at the 1905 Liege Exposition in Belgium.

Green River Bottle
Check out the cool bottle design on Green River Bourbon. | Courtesy

Green River also was known as “The Whiskey Without Regrets.”

Unfortunately the distillery eventually shut down during Prohibition, and some of the original structures were lost to a fire. The distillery sat dormant for years until 2016, and now it’s once again producing bourbon by the barrel — about 94,000 of them in 2021.

“I’m proud of our team’s great work bringing Green River back to life in Owensboro after years of dormancy — not only because of what it means to our company, but what it means for this wonderful city,” said Simon Burch, CEO of Green River Distilling, in a news release. “In its heyday, Green River’s success was intrinsically linked to Owensboro’s proud whiskey making heritage. The revival of the brand will make this true once again, and we plan to sell it far and wide, just like the original Green River.”

I met with Green River Master Distiller Jacob Call and CEO Simon Burch on Tuesday at Neat Bourbon Bar as they chatted with some local media here in Louisville. They were excited to showcase the revived Green River Bourbon, and I could tell they genuinely were thrilled to be bringing back a piece of bourbon history.

The bourbon is about 5 years old and is bottled at 90 proof. And the actual bottle is super cool, rounded to match the horseshoe on the bottom. Apparently the design took cues from the brand’s past, including key icons like horseshoes, rivets and the original Green River colors.

Best of all, the bourbon is refreshingly affordable at a suggested price of $34.99! Call said he wants his bourbon to be consumed, not collecting dust on shelves. I shared a taste of the bourbon with Call and Burch, and I will definitely be adding it to my bar as a daily drinker.

With a mash bill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley, the bourbon has a nice spice from the rye and packs some rich flavors of caramel, nutmeg and apricot for being 5 years old.

They’re having the official Green River Launch Party tonight at the distillery, and you should start to see this on shelves around Kentucky very soon. Or you can join me in making a pilgrimage to the distillery to check it out in person!