There are great bourbons hitting shelves just about every second right now. The run-up to Christmas and the wider gift-giving season is a great time if you’re looking to try something new and iconic in the bourbon world. That’s why it’s time for yet another brand-new bourbon blind taste test and ranking.
This time around, I’ve grabbed brand-new bourbons that have dropped in the last days and weeks — some of these are still on “pre-order” status because they’re so fresh. A few of these bottles dropped back in late September (at the distillery) but are hitting shelves around the country currently. The point is, these are the new-new bottles of bourbon in the game right now.
As for the ranking, I’m looking at taste above all else. Corn-fueled bourbon whiskey tends to lean towards the sweeter end of things when we’re talking about whiskey. But it’s really the balance of that fruity and buttery caramel sweetness against woody spices, earthiness, leatheriness, and deeper vanilla, dark chocolate, and even soft grainy vibes where the brown juice truly shines.
The lineup today is as follows:
- Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2022 Edition Aged 19 Years
- Laws Whiskey House Intention Origins Series 2022 Release
- Barrell Bourbon New Year 2023
- Hidden Barn Small Batch, Series Two Batch #1
- Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue
- BLACKENED x Wes Anderson Master of Whiskey Series
- Stellum Bourbon Hunter’s Moon
- RD One Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished with French Oak
Let’s dive in and find you a great bottle to add to your bar cart or give as a gift!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months
- We Put A Whole Bunch Of Bourbons To A Giant Blind Test And Discovered Some Absolute Gems
- The Affordable Vs Expensive Blind Bourbon Bottle Battle
- We Blind Tasted Classic Bourbons And Were Shocked By The Winner
- The Best-Known Basic Bottles Of Bourbon, Blind Tasted And Ranked
- The Single Best Bottle Of Whiskey From Each Of The 50 States
Part 1: The Tasting
This has a classic bourbon nose with deep leather, oily vanilla pods, dark chocolate-covered cherries dusted with salt and nutmeg, and a mild sense of really fancy Almond Joy with this faintest whisper of singed marshmallow and smoldering apple wood. The palate leans into woody spices with black licorice and spearmint candy blending into mint chocolate chip ice cream and root beer spiked with cherry syrup topped with creamy vanilla and dusted with cinnamon, clove, and dark cacao powder. The end has a long and supple sense of those woody spices before delivering into soft Black Forest cake with a brandied cherry vibe and a hint of star anise-infused apple-berry cider.
Well, this is f*cking delicious. It’d take a monster bottle of bourbon to beat this.
There’s a soft graininess that leads to sour cherries, old leather, a hint of honey, and a whisper of orange. The palate has a sense of cinnamon rolls with a crafty sweet graininess and subtle spice next to buttery grits and a twinge of black tea bitterness. The end leans into a little more of that honey with an oatmeal cookie vibe next to woody spice.
This was perfectly fine. It’s a little crafty with all that grain — oatmeal cookies, grits, etc. — but has a nice balance overall.
This is a classic bourbon on the nose with deep flavors of buttered buttermilk biscuits, salted caramel, singed marshmallow, Almond Joy, cherry cream soda, and a touch of Nutella and maple syrup. The palate leans into cherry root beer with a hint of vanilla cream soda next to eggnog spices and creaminess, old dried roses in older leatherbound books, and a whisper of red peppercorn cracked over some sweet pipe tobacco. The end has a candied chili pepper vibe next to burnt orange, marzipan, and creamy dark chocolate with a hint of walnut and cherry saltwater taffy.
This is another winner. It’s not quite as lush as the first pour but damn close.
There’s a clear graininess on the nose with a bran muffin/vitamin store vibe next to some mild nuttiness, dark berries, and woody spice. The palate holds onto the graininess with a vanilla wafer with honey feel next to orange cream soda, a hint of grape, touches of pecan waffle, and black licorice Necco Wafers. The end has a light spiciness with nutmeg and cardamom next to more of those chalky wafers and bran muffins.
This was pretty good. It’s very crafty or at least Tennessee-influenced.
The nose opens with hints of wicker, old leather, apple and pear cider, and a good dose of burnt orange and old oak. The palate has a salted caramel vibe that leads to pecan waffles with plenty of maple syrup and butter next to burnt orange tobacco leaves and a touch of holiday spices. The end leans into those woody holiday spices with a sense of caramel candies and allspice-spiked apple cider with a hint of old apple orchard wood and bark.
This was pretty nice overall. It’s balanced and well-built.
There’s a good bit of fruit on the nose with pear skins, rum-raisin, and burnt orange next to dried-up old cinnamon sticks and tobacco leaves. The palate stews the pear with honey and wintry spices while a hint of dried chili flake leads to walnut cake and a very mild echo of old wet straw. The end is lush and full of oranges studded with cloves and allspice next to pear tobacco and old cedar humidors.
This was also a damn nice pour of whiskey. This ranking is going to be hard.
Old porch wicker, boot leather, salted caramel candies, vanilla cakes, and a hint of dried mango rolled in salt lead the way on the nose. The palate leans into sharp yet sweet cinnamon with burnt orange and dried plums layering into a spiced fruit cake with a hint of sage and thyme. The end has a lightly dried rose vibe with some soft marzipan covered in dark chocolate and layered into an old fruit cake with candied and dried fruits, citrus, nuts, and plenty of dark winter spice.
This is a really tasty whiskey. I don’t know if it beats that first pour, but it’s close.
That old porch wicker and boot leather lead on the nose with a hint of bespoke Almond Joy, dried rose petals, and allspice cherry cola. The palate has a lush creaminess tied to vanilla cake with a cherry compote next to eggnog spices and creaminess and a dash of woody winter spice with a pipe tobacco edge. The end has a rich toffee vibe that leads to almonds and raisins with a sense of spiced choco-cherry tobacco just kissed with orange oils.
This is another nice pour of whiskey. It’s a stone-cold classic.
Part 2: The Ranking
8. Laws Whiskey House Intention Origins Series 2022 Release — Taste 2
Average Price: $129
This whiskey starts off with Laws’ classic Four Grain Straight Bourbon made with 60% heritage corn, 20% heirloom wheat, 10% heirloom rye, and 10% heirloom malted barley. That juice then rests in barrels for three to 10 years before bottling at cask strength and no fussing, creating only 1,680 bottles.
This isn’t last by any measure besides this ranking. This is really good whiskey, especially if you’re looking for something a little more crafty (grain-forward). I’m not sold on that crafty vibe … yet … and that’s the only reason this is lower today. Otherwise, this is solidly made and very easy-to-drink whiskey.
7. Hidden Barn Small Batch, Series Two Batch #1 — Taste 4
Average Price: $75 (coming soon)
This new series from Master Blender Jackie Zykan combines only 10 barrels of whiskey. The mash is rye-heavy with 60 percent corn from Christian County Grain, 35 percent rye from Walnut Grove Farms, and five percent malted barley from Southfork Malt House all in Kentucky. After double pot distilling, the hot juice is left to rest for five to six years before Zykan blended this expression and bottled it uncut at batch strength.
This is good whiskey. It has that crafty (grain-forward) vibe that’s a bit less sweet and a bit drier. I kind of think Jackie Zykan is a huge fan of Nicole Austin (George Dickel’s Master Distiller down in Tennessee) based on this whiskey’s flavor profile. That’s not my favorite thing ever, but it’s certainly a solid and unique flavor profile in a well-balanced whiskey.
6. Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue — Taste 5
Average Price: $75
This whiskey was released for Veteran’s Day this month. The mash is a mix of 25% Bloody Butcher corn, 25% heirloom white corn, 25% Bruce’s Blue corn, 20% malted rye, and 5% malted barley. That juice is aged for at least four years before blending, proofing, and bottling for this special once-per-year release.
This is pretty solid and classic bourbon. And that’s pretty much it. If you’re looking for a classic bottle that celebrates those who served this country (especially as a gift), then this is a great bottle to grab.
5. BLACKENED x Wes Anderson Master of Whiskey Series — Taste 6
Average Price: $179
This new collaboration from Metallica’s whiskey finds Master Distillers Rob Dietrich of BLACKENED working with Wes Henderson, Co-Founder of Angel’s Envy, to create a new expression. The whiskey is a classic Kentucky bourbon aged for six years. Those barrels are vatted and then refilled into white port wine casks for a final rest. Finally, the port barrels are batched and the whiskey is bottled at cask strength.
This is a damn good whiskey. It’s citrus-forward, which was a little dominant — hence it’s slightly lower ranking. That vibe, though, makes this a great candidate for mixing up a simple and delicious old fashioned.
4. RD One Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished with French Oak — Taste 8
Average Price: $75
This brand-new Lexington, Kentucky whiskey is a follow-up to the award and insider darling Old Wm. Tarr Bourbon, which this expression is replacing. The bourbon in play is finished in French oak, adding an extra layer of depth to the final product before batching, proofing, and bottling.
This was another stone-cold classic pour that really hit nicely today. Overall, I think this would make a decent on-the-rocks sipper or killer cocktail base, but I’m really leaning more toward the latter.
3. Stellum Bourbon Hunter’s Moon — Taste 7
Average Price: $99
This masterful blend from Barrell Craft Spirits celebrates the coming of winter with a high-rye bourbon blend. The batch is dailed in toward the flavors and vibes of the season with deep woodiness, spices, and dark fruits to help celebrate the season.
This was just delicious. On another day, this could have been number one. It’s deeply hewn and darkly engaging. I can really see this popping in a Manhattan or Sazerac cocktail or simply on the rocks with a dash of Angostura Bitters.
2. Barrell Bourbon New Year 2023 — Taste 3
Average Price: $95
Barrell’s New Year Bourbon is one of the most beloved releases of the year. This year’s batch is made from a grouping of five, six, seven, eight, and 10-year-old straight bourbon whiskeys distilled in Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wyoming, New York, Texas, and Maryland. Those whiskeys were batched in Kentucky and bottled as-is.
Delicious. I really like this neat, but a little water or a rock truly helps it bloom in the glass and takes you deeper into the fruits and creaminess. In a Manhattan, it’s perfect.
1. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2022 Edition Aged 19 Years — Taste 1
Average Price: $240
The latest decanter release from Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond series was made back in September 2003. Those barrels rested on three floors of rickhouse F and one floor of rickhouse X on the main Heaven Hill campus until October of 2023. They were then batched and proofed down to 100-proof for bottling.
This is another perfect whiskey from the Old Fitz lineup. It’s deep, fun, and classic while taking you on a journey through your senses.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
There was just no beating that Old Fitzgerable Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2022 edition this time around. It’s too good.
That said, I’d recommend trying any of these whiskeys. They all offer something a little different. The craftier, more grain-forward stuff ranked lower, but that was only because of my mood and the graininess of them.
Still, if you want a slam-dunk bottle of bourbon, any of the top five will do.