4 Distillers You Can’t Ignore For Bourbon Heritage Month
Bourbon Heritage Month is many drinkers favorite months of the year. Kicking off on September 1st, the whiskey community typically rallies around bourbon whiskey for a month of celebrating the long heritage the spirit has in America, while also looking to the future of new releases and the looming arrival of the Fall hunt season.
With weather cooling off across the majority of the United States, there’s no better month than September to focus on Bourbon and celebrate some of the best distillers bringing their A game each year. Here are the 5 distillers you can’t miss this Bourbon Heritage Month, along with their best bottles.
Generations of distillers is essentially the backbone of a good bourbon story, and the Russell’s are impossible to ignore. Wild Turkey distillery has been operating for more than 100 years, with the genesis of the Old Hickory Distillery in 1891. Today, Wild Turkey is best known for their production of Wild Turkey 101 – a non-age stated bourbon whiskey retailing around $25. Alongside it sits Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye: a blend of older rye bottled at a much higher proof. The current batches of Wild Turkey Rare Breed punch in at 56.1% ABV, for instance.
Tradition has long been a key facet in the success of the bourbon industry, and Maker’s Mark is no stranger to tradition. Every Maker’s product to date features the same wheated mashbill, heavy on the wheat behind the majority corn component, and the brand has used this recipe since their inception. Furthermore – Maker’s Mark bottlings are all roughly the same age, thanks to their backbreaking barrel rotation practice. This ensures great consistency in their releases, and guarantees a fairly standard “starting place” for each of Maker’s Marks Private Selects and Limited Edition releases – like the Wood Finishing Series. These releases focus on the impact of wood, aiming to hit particularly unique and reminiscent sensory experiences. For instance, the most recent Wood Finishing Series release – Maker’s Mark FAE-01 – seeks to use custom staves to replicate the smell as you first walk into a rickhouse.
There is no goliath of industry like the Beam family and the plethora of releases coming out of Beam (part of Beam Suntory). From Bookers, to Baker’s to Knob Creek the brand knows all about catering to whiskey fiends. Brands under their umbrella like Basil Hayden’s and Beam White sell in eye watering quantities, stocking bars, restaurants and venues the world over and back. Earlier this year, Jim Beam barreled their 17 Millionth barrel of whiskey – a feat few other distillers can dream of, let alone accomplish. Our pick: Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. At $45 and 60% ABV – you won’t find a lack of flavor, or heritage, in the contents.
The proverbial new kid on the block, New Riff resides in North Kentucky, near the Ohio border. Easily the newest of the four distilleries, their dedication to fermentation, craft whiskey, and planning for the future earns them a spot in our Heritage Roundup without breaking a sweat. Now releasing both bourbon and rye, the distillery promises a “New Riff On An Old Tradition” – a cheeky recognition that the Riff team has some catching up to do. Thankfully, their whiskey is of standout quality – and they’re holding quite a bit of it back for the future. New Riff holds on to about 33% of all whiskey each year for future years releases. While it would be tempting to sell everything they possibly can now, holding on to barrels for future years promises a fruitful and diverse portfolio. In the meantime, their standard Bourbon and Rye whiskeys need no introduction and deserve a spot on your bar this Bourbon Heritage Month.
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