Top 10 spirit launches in February 2016

by Annie Hayes

February welcomed a wealth of innovative new launches, from a "world first" wood innovation in whiskey to a “rare and exclusive” rye vodka release.

Also among the spirits industry’s most interesting new products of last month was a new vodka produced exclusively using distilled sugar beets, and an oak-aged gin which has been rested in casks from the Chateau de La Ligne in Bordeaux. February 2016 also saw the release of William Grant & Sons' new art deco-themed blended Scotch whisky series, while The Benromach Distillery Company released one of its “rarest expressions to date”. Looking at those which were made available on the market, as well as those which were unveiled to be released at a later date, this is our round up of the top 10 spirit launches in February 2016. Click through the following pages to discover which brands made the cut.  

Ledaig 1996

Ledaig-1996-Scotch-whiskyLedaig 1996 is a limited edition 20-year-old single malt Scotch whisky from the Tobermory Distillery, and is made using some of the very first spirit distilled when peated malt production first began on the Isle of Mull in that year. The expression, which has been aged in Spanish oloroso Sherry casks, is said to carry an "intense, smoky flavour" thanks to the peat-dried malt barley used in its creation, combined with peat-infused water from the distillery’s own private water source. For more information, click here

Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whiskey

YamaFebruary also welcomed the "world's first" non-Japanese whisky aged exclusively in virgin Japanese mizunara oak casks. Washington State-based Bainbridge Organic Distillers launched Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whiskey, which has been exclusively aged in wood harvested from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Described as an organic “American single grain barley”, the whiskey is said to have a flavour of nutmeg, clove, pear, and wood, settling out to honeyed vanilla and toasted marshmallow. For more information, click here

Cask Aged Shortcross Gin

shortcrossThe newest expression from Ireland’s Rademon Estate Distillery, Cask Aged Shortcross Gin has been rested in French oak casks from the Chateau de La Ligne in Bordeaux, which previously contained Chateau Cuvee Prestige wine. The casks were hand-selected by Rademon Estate’s head distiller David Boyd-Armstrong, who was advised by chateau owner Terry Cross. The oak-rested variant is said to offer the “key” juniper, citrus and floral characteristics” of the distillery's core variant, with the additional flavour of “lightly toasted oak and velvety tannins”. For more information, click here

BĒT Vodka

bet-vodkaProduced exclusively using distilled sugar beets, BĒT Vodka is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling, who released the new “sipping vodka” through their company, Beet Spirits. The duo were inspired by a New Yorker named Henry Oxnard, who modernised the method for producing sugar beets in the 19th century. BĒT Vodka – pronounced ‘beet’ – is produced at 45th Parallel Distillery in New Richmond using sugar beets from a local cooperative. For more information, click here

Benromach 35 Years Old

Bendromach-35-Years-OldThe Benromach Distillery Company released one of its “rarest expressions to date”, crafted from 35-year-old liquid that predates the distillery’s restoration by Gordon & MacPhail in 2003. The variant is said to have flavours of "cinnamon, beeswax polish, steward pear and charred oak", and is bottled in a bespoke decanter and presented in a wooden box. For more information, click here

Sobieski Estate Single Rye

Sobieski-Estate-Single-RyeImperial Brands-owned Sobieski Vodka launched its newest addition, Sobieski Estate Single Rye, with the intention of expanding the brand “as a whole” in the US. Made using 100% “rare and exclusive” Polish Dankowski rye at the Lancut Distillery – Poland's oldest distillery – it is said to have a “cool, soft and silky taste” of pear and herbs and a “slightly sweet” finish. For more information, click here

House of Hazelwood

house-of-hazelwoodThis month William Grant & Sons partnered with Lagardère Travel Retail to launch its new art deco-style blended Scotch whisky brand at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport. First announced at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes last year, the new three-part series is inspired by the “vibrant” life of William Grant’s granddaughter, Janet Sheed Roberts. Three inaugural expressions have been introduced: an 18-year-old, inspired by Paris in the 1920s; a 21-year-old, referencing Mumbai; and a 25-year-old, with a focus on Shanghai. For more information, click here

GlenDronach 47 Year Old 1968 (Cask #5837)

GlenDronach-1968-single-caskThe latest batch of GlenDronach's single cask bottlings included the “oldest” liquid ever released by the distillery. Cask number 5837 was filled with the Highland spirit in 1968, before maturing at the Aberdeenshire distillery for almost half a century. In total, 301 bottles of the 47-year-old whisky have been released; offering “an impactful sherried character” on the palate, “laden with dark prunes and molasses”. For more information, click here

Millésime 1972

Martell_Millesime_1972The month also witnessed Pernod Ricard Travel Retail release Millésime 1972, the third expression in Martell’s Millésime Collection. Release primarily across Asian airports, the variant has been aged for 43 years in old barrels and rested for a time at Chais de la Coquille – the Martell House’s oldest cellar in Cognac. For more information, click here

Slow Hand Six Woods Malt and Slow Hand Six Woods Cask

greenbarLos Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery introduced two 100% barley malt whiskeys matured using six different species of tree. Slow Hand Six Woods Malt and cask-strength variant Slow Hand Six Woods Cask are produced using 1,000 and 2,000-gallon French white oak vats. Five other woods are then used in maturation to give “additional depth and complexity”. The barrels are sourced from France with seasoning and toasting undertaken in-house. For more information, click here