Yes, the year is winding down. Not that long ago, that would have meant the bourbon release schedule was winding down too. That’s not so much the case anymore. The world of bourbon rests for no one these days, and that means there are tons of new bourbon releases hitting shelves as we count down the last moments of 2022.
All of this is to say that it’s time for one last “new bourbon blind taste test” before the calendar flips.
For this blind taste test, I’ve grabbed 12 bottles of new bourbon whiskey. These bottles have either just dropped (some mere days ago) or are new bottles that “officially” dropped a month or two ago but are only hitting shelves right now. Fortuna Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, for instance, was released back in September but only went wide this week on liquor store shelves outside of Kentucky.
That makes the lineup today the following bottles:
- Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- George Dickel Tennessee Whisky Reserve Cask Strength Aged 17 Years
- Parker’s Heritage Collection 16th Edition Double Barreled Blend Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Fortuna Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Rabbit Hole Raceking Cask Strength Double Chocolate Malt Bourbon
- Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Rum Barrels
- Pursuit United Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskeys Finished with Toasted American and French Oak
- Booker’s 2022-04 “Pinkie’s Batch”
- Backbone Bourbon Anniversary Edition “Decade Down” Uncut Straight Bourbon Whiskey 2022 Batch
- Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey 2022 Holiday Blends
- Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Premium Whiskey Barrel No: 007
- Frey Ranch Malted Grain Series 100% Malted Corn Bourbon Whiskey
When it comes to the ranking of these bottles, I’m going on taste alone. Luckily, these were all stone-cold-killer bottles of bourbon. So even the “last place” bourbon whiskey is a goddamn fine pour of whiskey. That said, the space between each of these whiskeys is very small with the top half all being stellar. Long story short: it’s a good time to be a bourbon lover, folks.
Let’s dive in!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months
Part 1: The Tasting
The nose draws you in with a sense of light pepper next to bog notes of dark citrus, powdered cacao, and stewed peaches with classic bourbon vanilla, orchard fruit, and an oaky vibe. The palate is a mix of apricot jam cut with nutmeg and cinnamon next to a deep sense of bruised peaches, pear cores, and red berries with a mix of spiced peach tobacco wrapped around dry wicker and cedar bark. The end leans into the sweet and spiced stone fruit while the tobacco slowly fades through sweet caramel and vanilla buttercream toward a silky finish.
This is just really f*cking good.
Old oak-filled cellars and creamy vanilla mix with sourdough bread crusts and aged corn kernels, damp rye, and a sense of old vanilla wafers. The palate is full of winter spice and mulled wine with a focus on star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, and a whisper of saffron with a burnt orange vibe. The end has a nuttiness that leads back to those old grain silos from the nose with vanilla wafer tobacco spiciness on the finish.
This was nice and tasted like a very old Tennessee whiskey.
The nose opens with a sour leather sense next to salted toffee, almonds, and dark chocolate next to old sweet oak with caramel tobacco just kissed with dried chili and old dark cherry. The palate is bold with a sense of cinnamon bark, whole nutmeg, star anise, and allspice next to sweetgrass and cherry cream soda and plenty of ABV warmth. The end has a sense of salted black licorice and dried chili with a rummy plum pudding and tons of dried and brandy-soaked fruits that eventually become very creamy with a sense of brandy butter.
This is delicious.
Fresh orange blossom and nasturtiums mingle on the nose with honeycomb next to stewed plums with hints of clove and allspice. The palate is luxurious with a sense of salted caramel, cherry Dr. Pepper, and sticky toffee pudding with plenty of winter spice, dark orange zest, brandy butter, and black-tea-soaked dates. The end has a sense of plum pudding with burnt sugars and orange tobacco kissed with star anise and clove and rolled up with wild sage and cedar bark and wrapped in old leather pouches.
This is another excellent whiskey.
Dark chocolate-covered hazelnut, chili pepper, and orange with a maple syrup sweetness over cinnamon toast with a hint of sharp spearmint. The palate has a sense of that hazelnut tied to cinnamon bark and black cherry tobacco with a twinge of firewood bark resting in rich black dirt next to dry dark chocolate just flaked with salt. The end has a sense of old boot leather and cedar chocolate boxes just emptied and refilled with spiced cherry tobacco and eggnog-infused espresso beans.
Yeesh, what a run — another winner!
There’s a sense of soft and sweet grains — think caramel drizzled over grits or Cream of Wheat — with toffee butterines, red berries, and ripe apricots next to tangerine and pear pie. The palate has a sense of deeply creamy caramel, apricot jam, marmalade, and vanilla white cake with a butterscotch frosting that gives way warm ABVs with a hint more of that sweet graininess cut with rum raisin. The end is full of soft and sweet spice and orchard wood barks next to molasses-kissed tobacco.
Pecan dark chocolate nut clusters mix with burnt orange, spiced and sweet mulled wine, and rum-raisin with a touch of fresh cedar on the nose while a deep leatheriness draws you in. The palate has a sense of Nutella over scones with a Cherry Coke on the side while singed cedar and cherry bark mingle with clove-studded oranges and a dusting of freshly cracked black pepper. The end has a nice spicy warmth and a touch more of that singed wood next to spicy cherry tobacco.
This is yet another really nice whiskey.
Wow, this nose is wild. It’s full of dark brown sugar vanilla pods and winter spices that start to lean toward chili and cumin and then a sense of a well-seasoned pork butt before it goes into the smoker — it’s kind of like raw leather. The palate is classic bourbon with a rich vanilla white cake frosted with buttercream next to bold dark cherry, woody notes of dry reeds, and salted caramel with a twinge of orange oils. The end has a mild sense of tangerine flesh and star fruit that leads back to warm ABVs and dark winter spices layered into fresh tobacco and old cedar bark.
This is a wild ride that ends up pretty classic.
The nose is classic bourbon with a balance of caramel, vanilla, cherry, and sweet wood that’s cut with plenty of dark winter spice. The palate is largely the same with a sense of stewed plums and marmalade next to an almost malty note tied to the vanilla and spice. The end has a nice sweet oakiness that leads back to dark caramel and cherry tied to tobacco leaves and humidors.
This was really nice, standard bourbon.
Fresh butterscotch and orange dark chocolate balls, apple cider, and a nice sharp cinnamon and clove spiciness present on the nose. The palate opens with that orange dark chocolate, brown sugar sweetness, and a touch of powdery white pepper next to ground cinnamon and star anise-heavy mulled wine. The end has a slight minerally edge with a dash of black pepper and creamy butterscotch next to apple cider spiked with cinnamon and orange rinds.
This was light and very easy to drink.
Rich and dark cacao powder next to burnt caramels, black licorice, old vanilla pods, and old leather boots appear on the nose with a dash of fresh nutmeg and clove. Lush salted caramel and a rich sense of honey loaded with cinnamon sticks and a black cherry cola drive the palate before a pinch of black pepper arrive, adding a bold ABV heat. The end has a cream soda feel with spiced nut cake and mince pies over a Cherry Coke cut with chocolate sauce that’s just kissed with chili pepper tobacco.
This is pretty tasty and hot. I think a single cube would have made this one pop!
The nose boldy meanders through floral and citrus-forward notes with an almost dank hoppiness next to savory melon, dry smudging sage, and a hint of lard-filled tamales that then leads to cherry and vanilla. The palate leans into fresh honeycombs next to orange and grapefruit peels soaked in apple cider with a fleeting sense of anise and then a massive note of dry and earthy corn husk takes over everything. The end really leans into the floral and citrus dank with a bold sense of a corn field right after the harvest when everything is still green driving the finish toward an earthy and corn-filled close.
This is a hell of a corn bomb.
Part 2: The Ranking
12. Frey Ranch Malted Grain Series 100% Malted Corn Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 12
Average Price: $59
This whiskey is a unique concept from out in Nevada. The bourbon is made with 100% malted corn that’s grown and malted at Frey Ranch. That corn has to be grown in the summer to save it from frost. Once fermented and distilled, the hot juice rested for exactly five years and 10 months before it was batched and bottled as-is with a touch of local water.
This is tasty but supercharged with corn notes on the palate. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is going to be your jam.
11. George Dickel Tennessee Whisky Reserve Cask Strength Aged 17 Years — Taste 2
Average Price: $350
George Dickel 17 is back! This whiskey is made from Dickel’s classic Tennessee mash of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. That hot juice is then left to rest in a single-story warehouse in Cascade Hollow for 17 long years. Finally, the perfect barrels were picked for batching and bottling completely as-is — yes, this is cask strength at 46%.
This is really tasty, especially if you’re looking for a heightened Tennessee whiskey experience.
10. Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey 2022 Holiday Blends — Taste 10
Average Price: $46
This high-rye bourbon from out in Colorado was blended especially for the holiday season this year. The juice is rested for three years high up in the mountains before it’s batched and cut with that iconic Colorado Rocky Mountain glacial water for bottling.
This is the perfect base for a wintry old fashioned.
9. Backbone Bourbon Anniversary Edition “Decade Down” Uncut Straight Bourbon Whiskey 2022 Batch — Taste 9
Average Price: $105
Backbone is made with classic MGP whiskey. That juice is hewn from a mash of 74% corn, 21% rye, and 5% malted barley that’s five to seven years old. The barrels are shipped down to Bardstown, Kentucky, where they are batched and bottled as-is with proofing or filtering.
This was great, standard bourbon. I’d lean towards using it in boozy cocktails.
8. Uncle Nearest Single Barrel Premium Whiskey Barrel No: 007 — Taste 11
Average Price: $79
This new single-barrel release is made with juice distilled, aged, and bottled at the Nearest Green Distillery in central Tennessee. The single barrels are chosen for their exact flavor profile and greatness and bottled completely as-is with no filtration or cutting with water to maintain that barrel’s greatness in the bottle.
This is where things start getting really good. This is a solid sipper that needs a rock and nothing else really.
7. Booker’s 2022-04 “Pinkie’s Batch” — Taste 8
Average Price: $249
The last batch of Booker’s of 2022 is a nod to Booker Noe’s father, Pinkie Noe. The juice in the bottles was created from barrels from the middle/sweet spot of four warehouses. The average age of the batch ended up being 6 years, 10 months, and 10 days old when it was bottled completely as-is.
This was so different that the last release. I mean that in a good way. If you’re smoking some pork products this holiday season, then this is the whiskey to pair with that.
6. Pursuit United Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskeys Finished with Toasted American and French Oak — Taste 7
Average Price: $75
The latest release from the Bourbon Pursuit team is a blend of four to six-year-old bourbons. The three bourbons involved are a Finger Lakes whiskey (70/20/10 corn/rye/malted barley), an MGP bourbon (60/36/4 corn/rye/malted barley), and an undisclosed Tennessee whiskey (80/10/10 corn/rye/malted barley). Those whiskeys were finished in both American and French toasted oak barrels before batching and bottling with a touch of Kentucky water.
This is a great sipper that makes one hell of a Manhattan.
5. Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Rum Barrels — Taste 6
Average Price: $69
This crafty Indiana bourbon is made from a high-corn mash bill. That spirit is then aged for about five years before it’s transferred into used Barbadian rum barrels for a final maturation. The whiskey was then bottled as-is.
This is an excellent sipper that really gets better with every taste.
4. Rabbit Hole Raceking Cask Strength Double Chocolate Malt Bourbon — Taste 5
Average Price: $1,599
This rare release from Rabbit Hole is a five-grain bourbon that’s made with some unique grains. The standouts are chocolate malted wheat from Germany (4%) and chocolate malted barley (3%) from the U.K. combined with 70% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted rye. That juice rests in Kentucky until it’s just right for batching and bottling completely as-is in only 1.365 bottles.
This is just excellent.
3. Fortuna Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 4
Average Price: $85
This whiskey — a revival of a centuries-old dead brand — is from the new company founded by Heaven Hill’s Andrew Shapira with partners Pablo Moix and Peter Nevenglosky, based around the Rare Character Whiskey shingle. The whiskey in the bottle is rendered from six barrels of six-year-old whiskey that’s expertly batched and bottled with just a touch of local Kentucky water.
This whiskey is so classically “bourbon” that it’s hard not to fall in love with it instantly.
2. Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 1
Average Price: $49
This brand-new release from Bardstown Bourbon Company is 100% their own juice. The whiskey is made from a wheated bourbon mash bill — 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley — down in Bardstown, Kentucky. The whiskey spends about six years mellowing before it’s just kissed with local water and bottled at 100 proof.
This is going to be huge next year. It’s damn near a perfect pour of whiskey.
1. Parker’s Heritage Collection 16th Edition Double Barreled Blend Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey — Taste 3
Average Price: $175 (MSRP)
This year’s Parker’s Heritage starts off with Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. From there, it’s all about where and how that whiskey aged. The lion’s share, 67% of the blend, comes from a 13-year-old double-barreled bourbon from the 5th-7th floors of Rickhouse Q. 33% of the blend comes from a 15-year-old bourbon that was aged on the 2nd and 5th floors of Rickhouse II. Those barrels were batched and then bottled 100% as-is without any filtering or proofing.
This is Heaven Hill at its peak. This is a magnificent pour of whiskey. Make sure to take your time with this one. Add a little water, nose and taste some more, and really let it bloom on your palate. It’ll be worth the effort.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
This was one hell of a lineup of bourbon whiskeys. There wasn’t a fault in the bunch. Each of these offers a little something different, but the top six were all quintessential pours of bourbon.
Since Parker’s Heritage is pretty fleeting (very allocated and pricey), I’d highly recommend grabbing that Bardstown Bourbon Company or Fortuna release. They’ll be your best bet to ring in the new year with an amazing bottle of bourbon in your hand.