GSN’s One For the Road: The Balvenie x Billy Reid NYC

Conceived in the 1980s, Balvenie Classic was the first scotch whisky to employ a second, more exotic barrel to finish the aging process. The malt master chose a finishing cask, such as a sherry cask, imbued with characteristics which were then imparted on the fully aged whisky. 

The Balvenie Stories whiskies, launched this year, are a trio of remakes of the Classic, which use a finishing barrel to deepen the flavor and tell their stories. Similarly, the Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old is finished in ex-rum barrels that are shipped to Scotland. Rum-barrel finishing produces delicious results, however those results can be a bit wild, with each barrel producing a completely different set of flavors. The malt master, looking for a consistent product, came up with a unique solution. He blended his own rum, and used it to season the imported barrels before they were used for a secondary maturation of the whisky. By testing the seasoned barrels, he determines whether the rum can be used for another barrel, or must be discarded. This kind of precision exemplifies the dedication to craft espoused by William Grant & Sons, the family company which operates The Balvenie. The end product contains notes of sugarcane and tropical fruit, with hints of juicy walnuts and laminated dough, like the soft buttery part of the inside of a croissant.

The Balvenie Spiced Yule Holiday Cocktail (Photo credit Naomi Leslie)

For The Balvenie, the spirit of craft and tradition also drives their marketing partnerships. The company approached Alabama-based fashion brand Billy Reid for a successful marketing partnership which launched last year, seeing kinship in their commitment to craft across their respective categories. Billy Reid’s clothes, shoes, and eyewear are all about high quality craft, embedded in tradition, yet blending an aesthetic of stripped-down ornamentation. They evoke a kind of worn-in-ness that stays in style from year to year.

I was introduced to the partnership and the brand on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at Billy Reid’s cozy and inviting New York flagship store in NoHo. The parlor and garden-level shop on Bond St. was filled with a variety of guests, a jazz trio, gourmet cheeses, charcuterie – and my personal favorite: cheese straws.

Bartenders offered the two Balvenie whiskies involved in this partnership: the Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old, and the DoubleWood 12 Year Old as the Classic is now known. They also offered a holiday punch, the popular choice, a bright and balanced recipe developed by Billy Reid team members, combining DoubleWood with grapefruit, grenadine, and Carpano Antica. Customers shopping at Billy Reid on another night this winter won’t find live jazz or punch; however, they can sip one of the whiskies featured in this partnership.

The event was flavored with Southern hospitality, reminiscent of Billy Reid’s “Shindig,” the brand’s annual festival held in Alabama, which hosts big-name chefs and musicians in a worldly weekend of fashion, music, and food.

Article by Paul Melnikow for Good Spirits News

GSN Backbar Review: May 19-23, 2014

indexWilliam Grant & Sons is releasing the second offering in The Balvenie’s series of Single Barrel Scotch whiskies, a 15-year-old Single Barrel Sherry Cask. The new Balvenie entry has been matured exclusively in a single European oak Sherry butt for at least 15 years. No more than 650 hand-numbered bottles are drawn from each cask, and each bottle carries the number of the cask in which it was matured. Launching to select U.S. markets this month, Balvenie 15-year-old Single Barrel Sherry Cask is 47.8% abv and retails at $100 a bottle. The newcomer joins 12-year-old Single Barrel First Fill (launched early last year) in the Single Barrel series, which will add its final installment, a 25-year-old Balvenie matured in refill American oak barrels, this fall.

indexDiageo’s Captain Morgan rum has introduced a new limited edition. Rolling out this month, Captain Morgan 1671 Commemorative Blend Spiced Rum pays tribute to privateer and brand namesake Captain Henry Morgan, who raided and captured Panama City’s Fort San Lorenzo in 1671. The 35%-abv offering features a blend of spices and is finished in Spanish oak. Captain Morgan 1671 Commemorative Blend Spiced Rum will be available nationwide, priced at $19.99 a 750-ml.

indexRichland, Georgia’s Richland Distilling Co. has formed a new marketing tie-up with Florida-based The Action Group USA (TAG) to introduce its flagship Richland rum ($55) into key southeastern markets. TAG USA will initially expand the rum’s reach into Florida and South Carolina, with additional rollouts in Texas and along the Eastern seaboard to follow. The new states will join existing markets Georgia and Tennessee. Produced using natural, estate-sourced sugar cane syrup, Richland rum is a small-batch spirit aged in virgin American oak barrels. The rum is the sole entry for Richland Distilling, which expects to release around 8,000 cases this year.

indexDiageo’s newly launched Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company is releasing a third expression of its craft Bourbon nationwide in limited quantities. The new whiskey, named Rhetoric, will be progressively aged and released over the coming years, with its inaugural 20-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon launching in June, and a 21-year-old expression set for release in 2015. The initial 45%-abv offering will be available in limited supply for a suggested retail price of $85 a 750-ml. bottle. Stocks of Rhetoric were found in warehouses at the Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Kentucky and it was bottled at Orphan Barrel’s headquarters in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Rhetoric joins Orphan Barrel’s 20-year-old Barterhouse and 26-year-old Old Blowhard whiskies.

indexCIL US Wine & Spirits, the U.S. subsidiary of Cognac producer Camus Wine & Spirits, has partnered with Canada’s Domaine Pinnacle for the U.S. release of Ungava Canadian Premium Gin. Launched in 2012, Ungava has grown to reach 60 counties and will be available in Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky in June, with expansion to 18 states anticipated by the end of the year. Ungava is distilled in northern Québec and is made in small batches with six botanicals handpicked by the native Inuit tribe for a yellow coloring, according to the company. Ungava Canadian Premium Gin is 43.1% abv and will retail for about $32.99 a 750-ml. bottle.

indexHeaven Hill Distilleries is extending Evan Williams Bourbon with the summer release of Evan Williams Kentucky Slush to select test markets. The 12.5%-abv pre-mixed cocktail is made with the brand’s Bourbon along with Lemonade, Orange Juice and Sweet Tea flavors and will retail for about $14.99 a 1.75-liter bottle. Running under the marketing tagline of “For Seriously Refreshing Bourbon … Just Chill,” Kentucky Slush will be available June through August in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Evan Williams Bourbon earned 2013 Impact “Hot Brand” honors with 15% growth to 1.65 million cases for the year.

indexDevotion Spirits is debuting a new tea flavor for its line of vodkas, Tiki Tea. Billed as gluten-free and sugar-free vodka made 100% from corn, Tiki Tea joins Devotion’s range of flavors that includes Wild Cherry, Coconut, Blood Orange, Black & Blue and the Perfect Cosmo. The new flavor will be launched over Memorial Day weekend in New Jersey, with a phased national rollout throughout this summer and fall. Devotion partnered with Allen Flavors, the maker of Arizona Iced Tea, for flavoring within its vodka range, which retails for $19.99. In January, Devotion Spirits announced nationwide distributions plans and can now be found at retailers such as Publix, Kroger, Albertsons, Whole Foods and Total Wine & More, among others.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN: Backbar Review – October 7-11, 2013

indexWilliam Grant & Sons is releasing a new Balvenie single malt expression exclusively for the U.S. market. Tun 1401 Batch 9 ($250) is a 49.3%-abv whisky sourced from 11 traditional whisky casks and three sherry butts, whose ages span a number of decades. It rested for several months in Tun 1401, one of the distillery’s unique “marrying vessels,” which also produced the previous limited releases Batch 3 and Batch 6. The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 9 will be distributed in limited supply beginning this month.

indexDiageo is introducing two new flavors to Smirnoff vodka’s range this fall—Wild Honey and Cinna-Sugar Twist. Both are now in national distribution, priced at $15.99 a 750-ml. The flavors join Smirnoff’s existing Confections portfolio, which also includes Root Beer Float, Iced Cake, Kissed Caramel, Whipped Cream and Fluffed Marshmallow.


indexBeam Inc.’s Laphroaig single malt Scotch brand has reintroduced Laphroaig Triple Wood, its limited edition fall seasonal, in the U.S. Triple Wood, a 96-proof whisky, is matured three times, using ex-Bourbon barrels, 19th century-style quarter casks and European oak Oloroso Sherry casks. The returning entry will be available in limited quantities nationwide, priced at around $59.99 a 750-ml. Laphroaig Triple Wood is joined in the Laphroaig portfolio by the brand’s 10-year-old, 10-year-old Cask Strength, Quarter Cask, 18-year-old, 25-year-old, QA Cask and Càirdeas offerings.

imagesBrown-Forman has added a new seasonal variant to Jack Daniel’s, Winter Jack. A blend of apple cider liqueur, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and holiday spices, the new product is suggested to be served warm and touted as “reminiscent of apple pie complemented with Tennessee whiskey and seasonal spices, with a finish of toasted oak and vanilla.” Winter Jack is hitting 30 U.S. states and Canada this month.


indexSidney Frank Importing Co. has expanded its Bärenjäger honey liqueur brand with a pair of new offshoots—Bärenjäger Honey & Tea and Bärenjäger Honey & Pear. Bärenjäger Honey & Tea features notes of sweet black tea and honey, while Bärenjäger Honey & Pear offers a blend of honey and pear brandy sourced from Germany. Both entries are currently available nationwide in 50-ml., 375-ml. and 750-ml. formats, priced at around $28.99 a 750-ml. The Honey & Tea and Honey & Pear variants are joined in the Bärenjäger portfolio by the brand’s original Bärenjäger honey liqueur and its Honey & Bourbon label, which launched last year.

indexGlenmorangie is set to introduce a very limited offering of what it calls the “world’s first extra-matured single malt,” Glenmorangie 1963. Packaged in a commemorative bottle including its original label, 1963 was extra-matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks for almost two years prior to its original release in 1987. Glenmorangie says it recently uncovered 50 bottles of the historic whisky in its Highland warehouses. Twenty of them will be made available for purchase in the U.S. through high-end stores at a suggested price of $2,600 each.

indexFort Worth, Texas-based Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. has launched its flagship T-X blended whiskey brand in Louisiana. Currently available in the state both on- and off-premise via Glazer’s, T-X is a blend of select whiskies priced at around $35 a bottle. Louisiana marks brand’s first expansion outside of its home market of Texas. A craft whiskey distillery established in 2010, Firestone & Robertson is planning to debut a straight Bourbon made with locally-sourced corn, wheat and yeast as the second offering in its portfolio.

indexPernod Ricard is returning its Pernod absinthe to its original recipe. The brand’s revamped formula was reconstructed in a two-year process from records that show how it was made in the 1800s, prior to the U.S. ban on absinthe from 1912-2007. Changes include a move from neutral grain to neutral wine spirit for the base, with grapes sourced from Languedoc as specified; the usage of grande wormwood sourced from Pontarlier, the historical home of the brand where the original factory was founded in 1805; and natural coloration through the maceration of green nettles, instead of added dyes and artificial colors. The remade Pernod (136-proof) will first appear at several leading New York City retailers, priced at around $68 a bottle.

index35 Maple Street, the spirits unit of Sonoma-based The Other Guys, has released two new limited-edition versions of its Masterson’s whiskey brand. Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey ($79), at 50% abv, is made from Canadian wheat and glacial water, distilled in a copper pot still and aged in white oak casks. Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Straight Barley Whiskey ($79), at 46% abv, is made from Canadian barley and glacial water, double-distilled and also aged in white oak casks. Some 2,337 cases (14,022 bottles) of the 12-Year-Old Wheat and 1,954 cases (11,724 bottles) of the 10-Year-Old Barley will be available. The Other Guys, run by August Sebastiani, launched 35 Maple Street in 2011 with Masterson’s Rye ($79) and has since followed with Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin ($35-$40) and Kirk & Sweeney Dominican Rum ($40).

indexSouth Carolina-based High Wire Distilling Co. has made its debut in its local Charleston market with the launch of Hometown vodka and Silver rum. Initially rolling out into retail outlets this week, the pair will also be available at local bars and restaurants in the near future. Priced at $27.99, Hometown vodka is a gluten-free offering made with 100% corn, while Silver rum is produced using Barbadian molasses and will retail for $23.99. High Wire, which bills itself as Charleston’s first distillery since Prohibition, distills its spirits using a handmade German copper still.

indexSeveral new limited-edition malts are joining the Campari America portfolio across the Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch brands. Bowmore is welcoming a new addition called The Devil’s Cask, named for a local Islay legend in which the devil stows away in a barrel of Bowmore bound for the mainland. A 10-year-old Scotch aged in Oloroso Sherry barrels, Devil’s Cask is at 56.9%-abv and will retail at around $90, with 1,302 bottles coming to the U.S. starting next month. Atop the pricing ladder, Bowmore is introducing a 50-year-old, retail-priced at around $20,000 a 750-ml. It’s replacing a 40-year-old that was priced at $15,000. Devil’s Cask and the 50-year-old join Bowmore’s recently added Dorus Mor (55.1%-abv), a 10-year-old priced at $120, of which 2,400 bottles were imported. Meanwhile, Bowmore stablemates Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch, from the Lowland and Highland regions respectively, are being extended with small-batch Virgin Oak expressions. Auchentoshan’s is 46%-abv and will retail at around $130 with 2,100 bottles headed to the U.S. Glen Garioch’s is 48%-abv, retails at $110 and is available in an allocation of 1,038 bottles.

indexProximo Spirits will expand the Jose Cuervo line with the launch of a cinnamon-infused silver Tequila called Cinge. The new expression will roll out nationwide this fall, priced at $17.99 a 750-ml. bottle, and will also be available in 50-ml., 200-ml., 375-ml., 1-liter and 1.75-liter sizes.



imagesPernod Ricard’s House of Martell is launching a new Cognac—Martell Caractère. The new variant, available exclusively in California and retailing at $34.99, is meant to pay tribute to Martell founder Jean Martell. Caractère (40% abv) is produced using grapes sourced from the company’s own vineyards in the Domaine Jean Martell, distilled twice without lees and aged in French oak.

imagesWilliam Grant & Sons has introduced a new variant, Phoenix, to the Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey range. Phoenix, priced at $54.99 a 750-ml., will be an annual limited edition release, with only 2,500 nine-liter cases now available in the U.S. market. The triple-distilled whiskey (55% abv) is finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. Phoenix joins Original, 12-year-old Special Reserve and 10-year-old Single Malt in the brand’s lineup.

indexFairfield, New Jersey-based Jersey Artisan Distilling has debuted the first entry in its premium craft spirits range, Busted Barrel dark rum. Made with all-natural molasses sourced from Louisiana, Busted Barrel is aged with a handful of vanilla beans in American oak casks for three months. The 80-proof spirit will be available at New Jersey retail outlets starting next week, priced at around $34.99 a 750-ml. Jersey Artisan Distilling, which bills itself as the state’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition, is also gearing up to launch an eponymous vodka and gin range, as well as Busted Barrel Bourbon and whiskey offerings.

All information courtesy of Shanken