The Best New Whiskeys to Seek Out Right Now

Including a 50-year Scotch, a Hawaiian newcomer and a reinvention of an Irish tradition

By Kirk Miller

Welcome back to our monthly guide to all things whiskey. This month: It’s all about the blends, from the return of an old Irish whiskey tradition to a uniquely sourced rye from West Virginia. Plus, the Avengers of drinks professionals releases a 50-year-old Scotch blend and the Mannings return with a sequel to their Tennessee-based bourbon.

The Gael

J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey’s The Gael ($80) is now available nationwide, featuring a 60% malt, 40% grain blend of whiskeys from 7 to 26 years old, matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Interesting thing here is that the brand was founded in 2015  by Louise McGuane, who is basically the first Whiskey Bonder in Ireland in well over 50 years. With the art of blending whiskeys sourced from craft Irish distilleries back in play, The Gael offers up notes of grapefruit, a lot of baking spices and a creamy mouthfeel, rounded out by a hint of pepper and lime.

Smooth Ambler Contradiction Rye

We had a chance to try this West Virigina distillery’s latest rye release, a brand continuation of the Contradiction line. We’ll have more on this soon, but this high ABV (105 proof) release is a mix of SA’s own juice and three other ryes. So a somewhat sourced product, but surprisingly a bit sweet with a unique mouthfeel (again, credit that high proof). For something you’d think had too much of a kick, this is wonderful sipper and great in cocktails.

50 Year Old Signature Blended Scotch Whisky

Just 500 bottles of this are available from  The Last Drop Distillers, a U.K.-based company dedicated to tracking down, bottling and selling the world’s most rarefied spirits. That said, this release — a blend of malt and grain Scotch whiskies aged at least a half century — does mark a turn for the company, which is now creating some of its own concoctions, with help from an Avengers-like drinks super team (including Drew Mayville, Sazerac Company; Richard Seale, Foursquare Rum; the aforementioned Louise McGuane, JJ Corry Irish Whiskey; Michael D’Souza, Paul John Indian Whisky; and Denis Lahouratate, Domaine de Sazerac, Cognac).

Is it good? We got a very small sample: A lot of dried fruit on the nose and the palate, with a hint of dark chocolate and toffee. Yes, it’s good, and it lingers long after the first sip (which is pretty much all we have to work with).

Kupu

Honestly, I didn’t know there was a whiskey out of Hawaii. Part of the Maui Brewing Company, this spirits brand — actually launched in 2019 — already has a line of RTDs, a gin and a white whiskey. And now they have an aged whiskey, ​​a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley, matured in new charred American oak barrels in bunkers that date back to World War II. The spirits at Kupu are distilled and packaged at Maui Brewing Company’s “grid independent” facility, which (according to the brand) is powered by a 1.2MW array of solar panels that cover the building’s roof, awning, and carports.

Sweetens Cove

We were impressed with the first release from this celebrity brand, overseen by master distiller Marianne Eaves (by celebrity we mean the Mannings, Andy Roddick and more). For round two, the sources for this blend have gone from one to multiple distilleries and now include three different ages (4, 6 and 16 years) of Tennessee bourbons. Cinnamon, spices, berries and honey dominate here.

Other whisk(e)y news: Pittsburgh’s award-winning Wigle just released a Pennsylvania Peach Whiskey, available for pre-order. We’re not always up for flavors, but Wigle has proven to make these experiments work … New Hampshire’s fascinating Tamworth Distilling — they of venison whiskey fame — just debuted The Mellow Fellow Corn Whiskey, made in honor of American essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau … A. Smith Bowman’s Cask Strength Bourbon is a new annual release, and the first bottling comes in at a whopping 141.1 proof. … Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley of The Vampire Diaries now have their own bourbon called Brother’s Bond … Vermont’s WhistlePig is getting into, interestingly, Irish whiskey … Coffee whisky? Anytime. Peppermint whisky? Not even in winter.