Angel's Envy Cask Strength bottle

Bourbon sips & scoops: Maker’s, Parker’s, Angel’s, Michter’s and more!

Things are starting to pile up on the Bar Belle desk, and my boss is nowhere to be found! I should have written this sooner and I apologize, dear thirst nuggets.

But alas, here I am with a mound of announcements and a handful of samples. What’s a bourbon journalist to do? Let’s take ’em one at a time.

Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup bottle

Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup bottle

You might see these pop up at your local liquor store this weekend! It’s the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup commemorative bottle, which also helps raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

As you know, the Breeders’ Cup will return to Keeneland Race Course Nov. 6-7, so this limited-edition bottle celebrates the partnership between the two entities — as well as Maker’s Mark, which is the official bourbon of the race.

I kinda like the white bottle with the purple wax — it would definitely make a nice show piece on your bar or nightstand. Hey, no judgement here.

Buffalo Trace expands soda line with ginger ale and ginger beer

Freddie's Ginger Ale

If you’ve visited Buffalo Trace Distillery within the last year, you probably noticed Freddie’s Root Beer for sale in the gift shop.

Freddie Johnson is a longtime tour guide — and all around great bourbon ambassador — at Buffalo Trace, so the line is named in his honor.

Word is, they’re expanding the line with ginger ale and ginger beer. These will make perfect mixers for that bourbon you pick up there, or consumed on their own, of course.

The new products should be at the distillery by mid November and will sell for $1.25 a bottle.

New Releases:

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength 2020

Angel's Envy Cask Strength

Despite the craptacular year we’ve had, good things do happen. Case in point, the release of the annual Angel’s Envy Cask Strength.

This biting baby doll will be 120.4 proof and released on Nov. 1 — just in time for the election. (Maybe we’ll be celebrating, or maybe we’ll be drowning our sorrows — who knows.)

There are only 17,400 bottles divided up between all 50 states (for the first time ever), so dust off that hunting gear and get prepared for next week.

I was fortunate to try a sample of this year’s release and can say that it does not sip like 120 juice — it’s quite smooth, and it’s teeth are not as sharp as you’d imagine them to be. There’s a lot of vanilla, caramel and brown sugar up front, but there’s also a nice ripe cherry note in there, as well.

And the finish … ah, the finish: It’s like licking the spoon after Mom made some sugar cookies. I could sip on this all night long.

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength will retail for $199.99.

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Rye

Michter's Toasted Rye

These delectable dudes were released in September, so I’m sorry I’m just now getting to them. You may be able to find a pour of them at your favorite bourbon bar, and I suggest you give them a sip!

The Toasted Rye consists of fully matured Michter’s Single Barrel Rye (at barrel strength) that is then put into a second custom toasted barrel and aged a bit longer.

The result is gorgeous notes of caramel and spice and everything nice. I was also fortunate to receive a sample and will tell you without hesitation that this juice is richer than a cheesecake the Golden Girls are huddled over at midnight.

I love the viscosity in this one, as well. It’s thick and coats my mouth like a North Face. Think of the consistency of a cherry juice — if you buy the right ones, especially Luxardo — and you get the idea.

This limited release is bottled around 109.2 proof and goes for about $85 if you can find it in a store.

Parker’s Heritage 2020: Heavy Char Bourbon

Parker's Heritage 2020

This is the 14th edition of this annual, highly anticipated release, and it’s a 10-year-old bourbon that was aged in a heavily charred (level 5) barrels.

The brand is named after the late Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam, and it raises funds for ALS, the disease Beam passed away from in 2010.

This one is bottled at 120 proof and retails for about $120. And like these other releases, it’ll be hard to find.

I was fortunate to try a sample of this, too, and would describe it as a maple bomb. It’s got a touch of spice and sips easy — I can imagine sipping it next to a fireplace as it gently snows outside.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C920

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

This is the third barrel-proof release from Elijah Craig this year, and it’s the second highest proof — at 132.8 proof.

This seems to be a theme here, but despite the high proof, it sips quite smoothly. It’s got deep flavors of toasted marshmallow, caramel, and I’m even getting some milk chocolate in the sample I got.

This is uncut, 12-year-old bourbon bottled straight from the barrel, as God intended. If you haven’t explored the Elijah Craig portfolio, I’d recommend getting acquainted with it. It’s delicious and pretty darn affordable.

This one retails for around $65.99.

Larceny Barrel Proof C920

Larceny Barrel Proof

This wheated barrel-proof bourbon is also a product of Heaven Hill, like the Elijah Craig above.

Bottled at 122.4 proof, this bourbon is consists of bourbon aged 6 to 8 years and is non-chill filtered.

To me, this is definitely getting better each time I try a new Larceny release.

Since it’s a wheat-based bourbon, it’s a little sweater on the palate and less spicy, but you get those wonderful full-time flavors — think s’mores, campfire and soft baking spices from the kitchen.

This one retails for around $67.99, and I would recommend the barrel proof over the standard Larceny.

Bourbon Brief: Elijah Craig Toasted, Old Fitz, Michter’s 10 and more, oh my!

Folks, I’ve let things pile up on the Bar Belle news desk these past few weeks, so it’s time I get my butt in gear and update you on bourbon releases that might be popping up at your local liquor store — if you’re lucky.

We’re knee-deep in the great Bourbon Release Season, so let’s get to it!

Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel

Elijah Craig ToastedI admit, I’m a huge toasted barrel fan, and I love that more and more distilleries are jumping on the toasted bandwagon. The more s’mores-infused flavors we can get into whiskey, the better! And a great toasted finish is just that — marshmallow, caramel, chocolate, soft baking spices, graham cracker.

My mouth is watering.

This new Elijah Craig offering takes fully mature small batch Elijah Craig, and then puts it into new toasted and flash-charred barrels that were air-dried for 18 months.

The 94-proof juice retains that familiar Elijah Craig spice, but the toasted notes of rich caramel, creamy vanilla and marshmallow make it a delightful sip, all the way through the pleasant finish.

It’s like sipping on a liquid version of a Caramel Cream.

This Heaven Hill-produced bottle is priced at a very affordable $49.99.

Old Fitzgerald 14 — Fall 2020

Old Fitzgerald Fall 2020Another from the Heaven Hill rickhouse, this is the bi-annual Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond (BIB) release that comes in this fall at 14 years. The ages for the other releases have been anywhere from 9 to 16, and all of them are delicious trophies most people clamor for because the bottle — and the bourbon — are stunning.

This decanter BIB series started in 2018, making this one the sixth national release. And as the rules state for BIB products, it is bottled at 100 proof.

Old Fitz is a wheated bourbon, but given the mature age of this release, it’s not something you want to serve Grandma before bed. It’s fire, it’s oaky (in the best ways) and it’s frickin’ fabulous!

I received a sample of this whiskey, and I might have to say that this is one of my favorites of the series so far. It’s so well-balanced, the Libra in me is doing cartwheels. It’s breakfast and it’s dessert. At first sip, you get a party of flavor — from baked cherries and black pepper spice to those familiar caramels and thick vanillas.

I would sip this by a campfire if I camped. But I don’t do bugs, so I’ll settle for sipping it in front of a fireplace.

The retail price on this should be around $140, and you might want to go check the gift shop for this one.

Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon & 10 Year Rye

Michter's 10 Year Bourbon and RyeI’m so behind on announcing these two new releases that I should be punished, but since I’m my only boss, I’ll let it slide this time. Each year, the fine folks at Michter’s in Louisville, Ky., release some 10 Year Bourbon and 10 Year Rye. Both are always amazing, tasty products, and naturally, the 2020 iterations don’t disappoint.

The bourbon dropped in May, while the rye came out in July (see, I told you I was behind!), and according to the press release, this will be the only 10-year rye release because, well, everyone knows their juice is good, which means everyone wants it.

“This will be the only release of our 10 Year Rye this year because we continue to be in a position where we need to allocate our whiskeys,” said Michter’s President Joe Magliocco in the press release.

I sampled both of these new releases so much during quarantine that they’re both below half full. (Perhaps that’s why it’s taken me so long to write about it, because I just can’t stop sipping!)

The bourbon is a nice medley of candy corn, baked apples and butterscotch, while the rye has that warming spice up front, followed by sweet and sultry flavors like nutmeg, graham cracker and, of course, that vanilla and caramel from the barrel.

The bourbon retails for about $130, while the rye goes for $160.

Little Book Chapter 4: “Lessons Honored” 

Little Book Chapter 4The 2020 Little Book release is dedicated to Freddie Noe’s father, Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe. Little Book is a blending experiment spearheaded by Freddie, and each edition has been as interesting and tasty as the other.

One time he used Canadian whisky, and another used a blend of older and finer Jim Beam products, as an example.

(For those who don’t know, Freddie Noe is the grandson of Booker Noe, and they say he has a nose and a palate similar to Booker’s — hence his nickname, Little Book.)

This one used three whiskeys: a 4-year-old Kentucky Straight Brown Rice Bourbon, an 8-year-old Kentucky Straight “high rye” Rye Whiskey, and a 7-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

I didn’t get a sample of this one, but the tasting notes in the press release say: “full-bodied vanilla balanced by notes of rich charred wood and dried cherries.”

The bottle retails for $124.99 and is 122.8 proof.

Rabbit Hole Cask Strength Boxergrail Rye Whiskey

Rabbit Hole BoxergrailRabbit Hole has just announced a new Founder’s Collection series with the launch of this limited-edition Cask Strength Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. The juice is 114.6 proof and 6 years old.

“With this and future Founder’s Collection releases, we will hand select barrels that embody perfection,” explained Rabbit Hole founder Kaveh Zamanian in a press release. “These ‘honey barrels’ will be bottled in numbered editions and offered at cask strength to ensure that connoisseurs experience the liquid as it’s meant to be, untouched.”

I’d love to get a taste of this, because I can imagine it’s even better than their standard Boxergrail. But I’m gonna have a hard time finding it, as there are only 1,315 bottles being released. Yikes!

The bottle will retail for $195, and if you want to throw your name into a lottery that’ll be drawn on Sept. 24 for a bottle, click here.

BourbonVille apparel

Let’s ditch ‘River City’ for ‘BourbonVille,’ shall we? Also, a bourbon roundup for your Friday morning

BourbonVille apparel

The staff of the KDF love showing off the BourbonVille gear!

The folks at the Kentucky Derby Festival might be on to something. A few years back, they created the BourbonVille event — which offers bourbon tastings, food pairings and more — to their lineup of actives that begin three weeks before the Kentucky Derby. It’s one of my favorite Derby Fest events, second only to the Great Steamboat Race, of course (as long as I’m riding on the Belle!).

Anyway, they’ve decided to launch a line of merchandise with the BourbonVille theme, because why limit the cool name to just one day? I believe it would make a fine nickname for Louisville, definitely better than River City. BourbonVille or Bourbon City — I’m cool with either one.

From T-shirts to glasses to bags, the line of apparel went live this morning, so check out the full array. They’d make great holiday gifts, just sayin’. Instead of a rock in my stocking, how about a BourbonVille rocks glass, Santa?

“Like the Derby Festival, bourbon is part of our city’s history and tradition, and we wanted to help celebrate that,” said Matt Gibson, KDF President and CEO, in a news release. KDF is partnering with local company 12/13 Apparel by Synergism for the products.

Check out BourbonVilleUSA for all the details. Also, notice how much fun the KDF staff is having modeling the products!

Michter’s drops a $5,000 bottle of bourbon!

Michter's Celebration bourbon

I’ll also take this in my stocking, Santa.

OK, so hopefully nobody will EVER actually drop a bottle of the new Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey, because if they do, they’ll be out an instant $5,000!

After a three-year break, Michter’s is releasing the blended whiskey, which was carefully selected by Master Distiller Dan McKee.

“Working on my first Celebration release was a labor of love for me,” he said in a news release. “Ultimately, I chose to take whiskey from two Kentucky straight bourbon barrels and four Kentucky straight rye barrels in our stocks. Each Celebration release is special and unique, and this year’s release differs from the 2016 one, where the whiskey came from three bourbon barrels and three rye barrels.”

In other words, this is what happens when a master distiller is let loose in a rick house and challenged to pick his or her very favorite honey barrels.

So why is it so expensive? Because there are only 277 bottles of the 2019 edition. And it’s in a fancy box!

Yeah, you’re right. Me and you will never get a sip of this, but a girl can dream.

Meet the makers of Maker’s Mark … and drink with them!

It’s rare to catch both Bill Samuels Jr. and Rob Samuels in the same spot, and it’s even rarer to get a chance to drink bourbon with them — unless you’re invited to their Thanksgiving or something. But in a partnership with Liquor Barn, the father and son team behind Maker’s Mark are inviting folks to come out and learn, sip and mingle with them this holiday season.

Called a “Taste of Heritage,” the sessions will be held at both Lexington and Louisville Liquor Barns and cost $25 — but they sound well worth the money, because you’ll be sampling all sorts of Private Select bottles and even some rare vintage MM bottles.

Here’s the schedule, and here’s the link for more info.

  • Liquor Barn Beaumont (Lexington) — Friday, Nov. 22 — 5:30 & 8 p.m.
  • Liquor Barn Springhurst (Louisville) — Friday, Dec. 6 — 5:30 & 8 p.m.
  • Liquor Barn Hamburg (Lexington) — Thursday, Dec. 19 — 5 & 8 p.m.
Other end-of-year releases 

So the Pappy line should be rolling out as we speak. Good luck finding or winning one! Other new releases include the Knob Creek Quarter Oak (which I received a sample of and will be part of my next Tasteless Tastings — hint: it’s yummy!); the last Booker’s Bourbon of the year, called “Beaten Biscuits” after the small, cracker-like biscuits Booker liked to make; and another Four Gate Whiskey release that goes by the name of Foundation. That one is a nearly 10-year-old bourbon that is bottled at barrel-strength — a whopping 119.4 proof!

Stay tuned for more bourbon news today …

Michter's 20 Year Bourbon

Make way for Michter’s 20!

Michter's 20 Year Bourbon

Well hello there!

You think Pappy is hard to get … try finding a Michter’s 20 Year Bourbon! It was just announced, however, that the Louisville distillery is releasing the Michter’s 20 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon in early November.

Last year, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020 named Michter’s 20 as the winner of its 16-20-year-old bourbon category. I was lucky once — OK, maybe twice — to get to try the 20, and it is absolutely butter! Worth all the hassle trying to track one down, although most of us will never get lucky.

This year’s release was selected by Master Distiller Dan McKee and Master of Maturation Andrea Wilson.

So what do they have to say about their beautiful bourbon?

McKee says (in the news release), “By paying such careful attention to maturation, we wind up with 20-year plus barrels that can be really special and complex without being overly woody.”

And Michter’s President Joseph J. Magliocco adds, “It’s an elegant bourbon with lots of depth and cascading flavors.”

The 2019 release will be bottled at 114.2 proof and will retail for a whopping $700!

If you find a bottle, invite me over, please!