Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whiskey Lists: Oldest of the Old

Yesterday's list of high proof bourbons surprised some readers with how few there were. Today, in this age of disappearing age statements, I thought we would look at super aged whiskeys, those over 15 years old, in current or recent release, as well as the oldest expression made by each major producer:

Beam, Inc: Beam's only foray into super-aged whiskey was the Distiller's Masterpiece series of a decade ago which included an 18 year old and a 20 year old bourbon. Currently, their oldest offering is the Knob Creek line at 9 years though apparently they are going to be releasing a Jim Beam 12 year old bourbon.

Brown Forman: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is their oldest; it is usually 12-14 years old.

Diageo: Bulleit 10 year old is their oldest age statement.

Four Roses: Four Roses has done 16 and 17 year old Single Barrel bottlings available only at the distillery. In 2010, they released a 17 year old single barrel to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the distillery.

Heaven Hill: If Buffalo Trace was the king of high proof whiskey, Heaven Hill is the king of old whiskey. They had Elijah Craig 18 year old back when distilleries would shy at breaking the ten year barrier. They have since added an Elijah Craig 20 year old and Rittenhouse 21, 23 and 25 year old rye whiskeys. For a time, they had an Evan Williams 23 available at the distillery. In 2008, they released their oldest bourbon in recent memory, the Parker's Heritage Collection 27 year old.

Old Rip Van Winkle: The famous Pappy Van Winkle 20 and 23 year olds.

Sazerac/Buffalo Trace: The oldest whiskeys they make are in the Antique Collection: George T. Stagg, usually 16-18 years old, Sazerac 18 year old and Eagle Rare 17 year old. The Bowman distillery in Virginia has also done an 18 year old bourbon. The Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection has also occasionally included older bourbons, such as last year's 19 and 23 year old "Giant French Oak Barrel" bourbons.

Wild Turkey: Wild Turkey Tradition, at 14 years old, is their oldest; they had previously released Wild Turkey American Spirit and Wild Turkey Tribute, both at 15 years old.

Independent Bottlers: Independent Bottlers, particularly KBD and Black Maple Hill, were some of the first to bottle super aged whiskeys in recent times. Black Maple Hill hasn't done one in quite a while, but KBD still puts out some old whiskey under both the Willett and Vintage labels and previously had under the Classic Cask label. Michter's recently bottled a 20 year old American whiskey, and the Hirsch label has released whiskeys from undisclosed distilleries at 20, 21, 22, 25 and even 28 years old, which is probably the oldest bourbon released in modern times. McLain & Kyne makes the Jefferson Presidential Select 17 and 18 year old bourbons from Stitzel-Weller, and there are still a few bottles of AH Hirsch 16 floating around from the original Michter's Distillery. High West bottled a 16 year old and a 21 year old rye distilled at the Barton Distillery. A few bottlers have put out older versions of LDI bourbon: Smooth Ambler has a 19 year old version of its Very Old Scout, and Hooker's House has a 21 year old LDI bourbon.

Did I miss any super old whiskeys? Let me know.


Trey said...

It's worth mentioning Wild Turkey American Spirit at 15 years. I've never had it, although I've been looking for a dusty for a while.

sku said...

Thanks Trey. I added it. Wild Turkey American Spirit was good stuff.

Anonymous said...

BTAC has also had a few old releases like the 3 ages of "rediscovered barrels".

Lazer said...

This supper old category doesn't interest me as much as the barrel proof category. Age statements are good, but they don't need to be too old for American whiskey. I would like to see more non-chill filtered American whiskeys available.

JM said...

Jefferson's will be releasing both a 21yr Bourbon and 21yr Rye this year...
Re: The A.H. Hirsch 16yr
From my last meeting with the guys at Anchor Distilling Company (who markets the brand through SWS in CA) they are still sitting on a fair amount of those bottles that were packaged into the cigar humidors... The problem is they want WAY to much money for the bottles even at wholesale. They would rather sit on them then sell them.