Keeping up with all the new spirits hitting store shelves this time of year is like drinking from a firehose.

But while the plethora of new products can be dizzying, the fertile whiskey landscape remains a drinker’s paradise filled with new flavors and expressions from beloved craftsmen who continue to innovate to the delight of us avid fans. Here are a few new ones worth checking out.

Photo courtesy of Jefferson's

Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea Rye Whiskey

Vitals: 96 Proof (48% ABV); $80

What the brand calls its “boldest voyage yet” is the 26th expression under the Ocean banner and the first rye to be aged on the open waters by Jefferson’s co-founder and director of all things whiskey, Trey Zoeller. What’s in the barrel is rye aged in three-level-char barrels for 5 years. Twenty-five percent of these barrels underwent a second maturation in toasted oak before shipping out to sea for an additional 8 months of maturation on the open waters. Once docked, the whiskey was blended together and bottled non-chill-filtered at 48% ABV.

“I’ve always had the desire to create a Rye within the Jefferson’s Ocean portfolio,” says Jefferson’s Trey Zoeller. “The unpredictability of the ocean – and the way it affects our products – has always been intriguing to me, but this, combined with our double barreling process, made for a more robust profile, while the increased interactions with barrels and fluctuating air temperatures balanced the spice of rye.”

How Does It Taste?

Flavors of marshmallow and toffee permeate the nose and palate with flecks of leather and tobacco, which add complexity. Baking spice and cinnamon are found on the long finish, along with a signature salinity born of its months of ocean aging.

Learn more about Jefferson's Ocean Rye
Image courtesy of Compass Box

Compass Box Experimental Grain Whisky

Vitals: 92 Proof (ABV 46%); SRP $150

This latest limited release from the minds of Compass Box founder John Glaser and Lead Whiskymaker James Saxon is made from 100% malted barley. But since it was not made in a pot still, it does not qualify as a single malt Scotch, which makes us want to try it even more. In keeping with their own unorthodox approach to innovation, Glaser and Saxon sourced a parcel of column distilled, peated malt barley from the Loch Lomond Distillery, which was blended with “conventionally made grain whiskies” and aged in re-charred barrels and hogsheads, then bottled non-chill filtered at 92 proof.

“The whisky we sourced from the Loch Lomond Distillery has been made from a mashbill of 100% peated malted barley,” says James Saxon. “This component, in what is officially a grain whisky, feels like a spy traveling under a false passport. We love this tension that so often exists between the rules and a modern willingness to do things differently, in pursuit of flavor.”

How Does It Taste?

While samples have not arrived by press time, Compass Box tasting notes promise “rich crème brûlée” aromas combined with herbal and spicy smoke. Expect toffee, apple, and vanilla on the palate, woven together with a “mossy, creamy peatiness.”

Learn more about Compass Box
Photo courtesy of Kentucky Owl

Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Straight Rye

Vitals: 100.8 proof (50.4% ABV); $60

This latest by Kentucky Owl is the second addition to its Wiseman Series, following a bourbon released last fall. Made from a 95% rye recipe and bottled over 100 proof, The Wiseman Straight Rye is the third Kentucky Owl release under the leadership of Master Blender John Rhea, previously Chief Operating Officer at Four Roses. Considering The Wiseman Bourbon landed on the Top 20 list by Whisky Advocate and cracked Bourbon Review’s Top 10 whiskies of the year in 2021, expectations for its rye counterpart are high.

“Following the successful launch and customer response to our Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Straight Bourbon, we’re delighted to quickly follow this with the launch of Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Rye,” said Nik Keane, Global Category Leader at Stoli Group. “We’re confident our customers will also love this product — it is exciting times ahead with Kentucky Owl.”

How Does It Taste?

Expect a spicy nose steeped in rye bread, sweet caramel, and cinnamon. The high rye mashbill dominates the palate, balanced with a buttery supporting cast of cinnamon toast, and concludes with a long finish revealing hints of walnut.

Learn More About Kentucky Owl

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