Is there a better pairing on this earth than a dram of whiskey (or whisky) and a crisp autumn breeze? We’re gonna say no. And that’s why we consider now the perfect time to introduce a list of 10 whiskies that you’ll want to add to your fall shopping list as soon as possible. These bottles represent the finest new releases in the brown-liquor category, each one rich with flavor and enough potency to keep you warm even as the foliage falls away and the winter season approaches.
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Bruichladdich Octomore 11
During this time of year, lightweight and low-intensity summer drinks give way to pours that feature more complexity, body, and funk. In terms of Scotch whisky, these characteristics often appear in especially peat-forward versions, where smoky, earthy, and briny flavors swirl together to make a strong impression on the palate.
Bruichladdich, a distillery located on the Scottish island of Islay, releases its “Octomore” Scotch lineup every autumn, an aged array of Scotches famously made from the most heavily peated barley in the industry. This year’s “Octomore 11” range includes four distinct whiskys (Octomore 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, and 10-Year), each aged at least partially in American whiskey barrels. The result? A whisky series that isn’t for the faint-hearted and will prove a true autumn treat for fans of balanced yet unapologetically bold Scotch.
The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old
This year, iconic heritage Scotch brand The Macallan released a new collection of whiskeys aged in both European and American oak casks, which provide the spirits with nuanced, multifaceted flavor profiles. The Double Cask collection includes a 12 Year, a 15 Year, and an 18 Year, each with unique characteristics and plenty to recommend it. That said, the standout of the Double Cask lot is the 15 Year edition, which offers a delicate sweetness, a silky mouthfeel, and appealing hints of citrus, vanilla, and burnt-sugar caramel.
Pinhook Bohemian Bourbon
Bourbon’s association with the fall season is well-established these days; everywhere you turn from September through November, you’ll see bourbon apple pies, bourbon hot toddies, bourbon-glazed cider donuts … the list goes on. This American whiskey’s inherent sweetness and woodsy, warm bouquet feels appropriate for cooler temperatures and fireside hangouts, and the new version released by Kentucky’s Pinhook Distillery, known as Bohemian Bourbon, perfectly encapsulates this spirit’s autumnal appeal. Bohemian Bourbon features a higher proof — 114.5, to be precise — than many competitors, and it’s a testament to the skilled whiskey-making of the Pinhook team that the whiskey’s flavor isn’t compromised by the elevated alcohol content. Rather, Bohemian Bourbon sings with seasonal taste notes like pear, roasted nuts, and dried citrus, and its finish leaves you with a pronounced hint of spice and a well-calibrated burn.
Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength
The rich amber hue of Penelope Bourbon’s new Barrel Strength release immediately clues drinkers in on what they can expect: An elegant whiskey with plenty of stage presence. With a proof of 116.6, Penelope Barrel Strength easily exceeds the brand’s flagship bourbon in terms of potency. As this bourbon represents the purest version of the spirit, taken from the barrel and bottled without dilution, Penelope Barrel Strength leads with flavor elements of charred oak, but imbibers will also detect hints of toffee, orange peel, and malted grain.
Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon
When your bourbon offers up a fragrant nose heavy on baking spices, then you know that it’s a good move for fall, especially as the season proceeds toward the Thanksgiving holiday. The iconic Kentucky distillery Elijah Craig recently released a new Toasted Barrel expression, and this bottle boasts plenty of dessert-like aromas and notes, like brown sugar, campfire marshmallows, and dark cocoa. However, this bourbon also delivers a savory backbone reminiscent of oak, black peppercorn, and leather, making for a well-rounded brown liquor to drink alongside a slice of pumpkin pie (or all on its own, of course).
Maker’s Mark 2020 Limited Release Bourbon
As one of the premier distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Maker’s Mark likes to mix up its repertoire on the regular, sending new small-batch releases out into the world along with its flagship bourbons. In 2019, Maker’s Mark debuted the first whiskey in its Wood Finishing Series, which uses oak staves to impart flavor to the finished product. The next iteration, also known as the 2020 Limited Release, involves cask-strength whiskey and both French oak and American oak staves, a combination that results in a bourbon with a medium body, notes of butterscotch and vanilla, and just enough bite in each sip.
Hudson Whiskey Short Stack
Flavored whiskies always feel like somewhat risky endeavors; at their worst, the balance of the brown liquor gets completely thrown off by distracting and overwhelming added elements. But at their best, these whiskies bring in high-quality ingredients to collaborate seamlessly with the base spirit, yielding an engaging hybrid that’s really fun to drink. That last scenario easily describes Short Stack, the recently-rebranded maple rye whiskey from Hudson Distillery in New York. The Hudson team ages its rye in both American oak barrels and in barrels previously used to make Vermont maple syrup, and the whiskey pulls in flavors from both vessels, giving it an earthy foundation, a light touch of maple sweetness and pancake-syrup aromas, and that spicy hit you want from a well-crafted rye.
Templeton Caribbean Rum Cask Rye
Dark rum bears abundant similarities to whiskey, so Templeton Rye’s decision to age its namesake product in rum casks from the Caribbean made perfect sense on paper. We’re happy to report that this strategy works just as well in practice as it does in theory. The time spent in the rum casks doesn’t mute the rye’s inherent flavor and kick; instead, it plays up the aromatics and adds in a few harmonious taste chords, like tropical fruit and baking spices. If you’re looking for a fruit-forward whiskey to pour into a mug of hot cider, this one will do you right.
Few Spirits Immortal Rye
When an elite, highly lauded rye whiskey is blended at cask strength with an oolong tea brimming with stone fruit and herb aromatics, you get Immortal Rye, a truly unique new whiskey from FEW Spirits in the Chicago area. This melding of classic rye spice with the tea’s fruit and botanical notes results in a whiskey practically designed for autumn hot toddies; just throw in some raw honey, hot water, and a lemon wedge, and you’re in business.
Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey
With its medium-light body, its malted-barley character, and its signature burn on the finish, Irish whiskey makes an ideal brown spirit for mid-autumn, as the weather transitions from Indian-summer warmth to end-of-year crispness. Fans of Irish coffee will also enthusiastically tell you that the only proper liquor for this classic cold-weather cocktail comes in the form of Irish whiskey. For both of these reasons, we’re pleased to wrap up our recommendation list with a brand-new blended whiskey from the west coast of Ireland. Named after a sixteenth-century pirate queen. Grace O’Malley Blended Irish Whiskey delivers everything that drinkers want from an excellent Emerald Isle whiskey: plenty of malt, tinges of nuts and honeycomb, and a long, oak-forward, slightly fiery finish.
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