With the huge boom in popularity that whisky is seeing right now, it makes sense that whisky makers would start to think about how they can be different from the competition. At the same time, there is such a passion in the industry that producers are pushing the boundaries of whisky and searching for what they can do to shake things up and make something remarkable.
Here is our take on the best innovations in the whisky industry in 2019.
1. WhistlePig The Boss Hog: The Samurai Scientist Edition
Bottle cost: £595
The second American whisky to be made with a Japanese Umeshu finish, WhistlePig Boss Hog: The Samurai Scientist is an exciting addition to the American whisky world. It has been made in honour of JōkichiTakamine, a scientist who introduced koji fermentation to America.
Note the first, as explained to me by Billy, was the St. George Distillery with Baller:
“A California take on the Japanese spin on Scotch whisky.” So says master distiller Lance Winters of this unique and inspired spirit, which was created with Japanese-style whiskey highballs in mind (hence the name Baller).
2. Kinahans The Kasc Project
Not content with using only one type of wood for their casks, Kinahans Distillery in Ireland went right ahead and created a Franken-cask (which they call Kascs) out of five different types of wood. This includes American, French, Portuguese, and Hungarian oak as well as Chestnut. Has to be tasted to be believed.
3. JJ Corry The Battalion
Another innovation from Ireland, JJ Correy The Battalion is matured in Bourbon casks and the finished in mezcal and tequila casks, giving it an excellent earthy quality. Although, they take it a step further by splitting it up into grain and malt, with the grain being matured in both types of cask and the malt only going into mezcal casks. Defnitely worth getting stuck into.
Just like WhistlePig is exploring maturation with Japanese spirits, Diageo are exploring maturation with Chinese spirits. Zhong Shi Ji is a joint venture between Diageo and Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery Co. Ltd, China’s biggest Baijiu producer. The spirit is distilled in Scotland but matured in China (and partly in ceramic pots) so it’s an exciting foray into world collaborations to create new spirits.
4. Zhong Shi Ji
5. Tomatin Cù Bòcan Creation #2
Bottle cost: £48.29
Yet another Whisky maker embracing Eastern distilling Tomatin’sCùBòcan Creation 2 is matured in European oak and Shochu casks. This adds a lovely citrus note, with hints of lime. They are pushing the boundaries of maturation and we’re excited to see it.
6. Compass Box Affinity
Bottle cost: £83.29
Combining Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy) with Scotch was a stroke of genius. Affinity is the perfect blend of the two, bring out wonderful fruit flavours in the whisky and lots of vanilla to back it up. Compass Box have been playing with the combination in their labs for years, and we’re glad they finally released it to us.
7. Suntory Ao World Blend
Bottle cost: £153.99
Ao means blue in Japanese and for this whisky, it represents the ocean that unites us all. This whisky is made from different whiskies, each from a different part of the world including Scotland, Japan, America, Ireland and Canada. A truly international whisky, Ao is leading the way in world whiskies.
8. Don Julio Reposado Double Cask Lagavulin Aged Edition
A tequila this time, but one that has been matured in Lagavulin casks. Don Julio Reposado has been made in partnership with Enrique de Colsa and Colin Gordon and has anexcellently smoky finish, one that Lagavulin would be very proud of. The earthy qualities of the tequila are excellent with the richness of the peat.
9. Powers Old Fashioned Bottled
Bottle cost: £25.92
Embracing the popularity of cocktails, Powers Irish Whisky have goe and made a bottled Old Fashioned. And it is brilliant. The smoothness of the Powers Gold Label Whisky that is used in the cocktail is excellent and will be bringing new audiences on board for the brand.
10. Kininvie New Range
Mysteriously labelled KVSM001, KVSG002 and KSB003, these three bottlings from the new Kininvie range are an intriguing step for the distillery. They have been setting up the Kininvie Works, a space for experimentation in the whisky world, and these are the first three releases. KVSM001 is a triple distilled malt (which is not common in Scotch production, more-so in Irish and never before in Kininvie). KVSG002 has had malted rye added to the mash bill, which again, is new for Kininvie and not often done in Scotch production. The third release, KSB003 is a blend with a higher proportion of malt to grain whisky, again not commonly done. Each explores the differences that these changes make in the production of malt at Kininvie and are exciting additions to the line up there.
What’s your favourite innovation in the world of whisky? Tell us in the comments!