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.

Uncle Nearest Distillery Still House

Nearest Green Distillery opens today, and it’s a must-see Tennessee destination

Uncle Nearest Distillery Still House
The Uncle Nearest Distillery Still House will be completed later this summer. | Courtesy

During a virtual press conference yesterday, Nearest Green Distillery CEO Fawn Weaver beamed with pride as she showed off the finished pieces of Phase Two of the 270-acre, $50 million distillery in Shelbyville, Tenn. The whiskey distillery officially re-opens today, fittingly on Juneteenth, after being closed for a year due to the pandemic and construction of the immaculate, massive gift shop, tasting room, still house, rick houses, the longest bar in the world, and many more amazing features of the distillery tour.

Nearest Green was a formerly enslaved man who not only taught Jack Daniel all about making whiskey, but also worked right alongside him as he got his distillery up and running in Lynchburg, Tenn., just about 22 miles from the new Nearest Green Distillery. The distillery pays homage to “Uncle” Nearest and his dependents, many of whom still live in the area. And in fact, Victoria Eady Butler, a fifth-generation Nearest Green descendant, is master blender for the brand, which has won the most awards of any whiskey since 2019.

What’s most unique about the distillery is it goes beyond whiskey and how it’s made — it not only tells the story of Uncle Nearest, it also champions everything Tennessee, from famous snacks invented in the state (cotton candy, Goo Goo Clusters, Mountain Dew) to telling the role Tennessee played in women obtaining the right to vote and what the women of the Temperance Movement were really after. 

 “At Uncle Nearest, everything we do has significance beyond the product we sell — it’s why our main hashtag on social media is #MoreThanWhiskey,” Weaver said in a news release. “We could not be more honored to have the opportunity to share the history of Tennessee, and to couple that with honoring the history of one of the greatest figures in the spirits industry, Nearest Green. It’s a distillery experience unlike any other, and nothing can prepare guests for what they will see when we reopen our doors this weekend.” 

Fawn Weaver
Nearest Green Distillery CEO Fawn Weaver shows off the angel wings mural by Kelsey Montague.

Weaver also told us during the tour that limiting the Uncle Nearest Distillery just to whiskey “would have been a mistake to me.”

From Weaver’s quick virtual tour around the campus, you can tell every inch of the 270 acres was carefully thought out, planned and constructed with Uncle Nearest in mind.

Weaver joked it’s the “Malt Disney World” of Tennessee, and it’s no coincidence that the distillery not only owns a few trolleys purchased from Disney World, but the retail space was designed by the former president of Disney Stores Worldwide, James Fielding.

The grounds — which were formerly Sand Creek Farms, a Walking Horse farm and event center — also include the Welcome Center; a faux Concession Stand; Philo + Frank’s, a non-alcoholic speakeasy; Barrel House BBQ & Brew; the Family Tasting Room; Master Blender House; and a #WhatLiftsYou Angel Wings Mural by artist Kelsey Montague.

What’s also different about this distillery is that tours are self-paced and self-guided, so you won’t be led through by a tour guide and can take your time experiencing every detail. Tours can now be booked online.

Later this summer, Weaver noted, construction on the Humble Baron, an entertainment venue, restaurant and home to the world’s longest bar, will be completed, as will the Still House, featuring a still, mas cookers and more made at Louisville’s Vendome Copper & Brass Works.

Take a look at more renderings of the space below.