My Favorite Whiskeys for Fall
While Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and while I’d love it to be longer, it seems as though marketers are pushing the unofficial start earlier with pumpkin spice … well, everything. Here’s my short list of favorite whiskeys (no pumpkin spice bourbon, thank goodness) to enjoy sipping slowly with family and friends as the days shorten, the winds cool, and the leaves crackle under foot.
($50 - $60)
Big and bold, sporting a blend of 6, 8, and 12-year-old bourbons, Wild Turkey Rare Breed epitomizes a flavorful Fall bourbon. This high-proof bourbon is made from Wild Turkey’s signature mash bill – 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. Dark and rich to the eye, with a warm vanilla nose, this bourbon is incredibly smooth for the proof and carries vanilla and fruit notes on the palate, followed by a long, warm finish. Whether you’re carrying “that turkey bourbon” on a Fall hunt or sitting around the grill at a tailgate, this bourbon does not disappoint. Perhaps best of all, this high-proof bourbon isn't rare to spot on store shelves, making this an easy one to add to your festivities.
($25 - $30)
When many think of Fall leaves, classic images of the watercolor palette offered by quaint New England villages or the golden aspens of the Rocky Mountains come to mind. TinCup American Whiskey could nearly be a bourbon. Distilled with bourbon-like mash bills at MGP in Indiana, the finished product includes a splash of malt whiskey from Stranahan's in Denver along with a second splash of Rocky Mountain water to complete the blend. Warm and inviting notes of vanilla and oak meet campfire smoke and the graininess offered by malt whiskey. The bottle with an attached cup-cap is great for enjoying around the campfire at your outdoor event.
($32 - $38)
If Fall whiskey has a flavor, it just might be this malt whiskey. Introduced as part of Woodford Reserve's four grain series - with corn (their flagship bourbon Distiller's Select), rye, wheat, and malted barley serving as the primary grains - this one really strikes my palate. The mash bill is 51% malted barley, 47% corn, and 2% rye. Just a few percentage points shy of the 51% corn threshold, this whiskey has many characteristics of a traditional bourbon. Bottled at the same proof - 90.4 - as their flagship brand, there is corn sweetness paired perfectly with the grassy and earthy notes from the malt, as well as dark cherries. On the palate, there is cornbread sweetness followed quickly with an explosion of graham cracker, dark chocolate, and a marshmallow toasted s’more. With a hint of cooler weather in the air, you'll find this one in my glass watching the fire table dancing in the night.
($50 - $60)
Come Fall, I find my palate shifting from some of the lighter whiskeys of Summer to something with a bit more punch. This Bottled-in-Bond product not only carries the standard 100-proof, but also what would be considered a "high-rye" mash bill of locally sourced grains: 64% corn, 24% rye, and 12% malted barley. This deep amber-colored bourbon carries vanilla, butterscotch, baked fruits and marzipan married with a baking spice explosion. I also love the non-chill filtration, which provides a thick and smooth sensation on the tongue. This is a delicious bourbon to pair a slice of Bourbon Apple Cake.
George Dickel Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon ($34 - $40)
It's getting harder to find reasonably priced bourbons that still sport an age statement. This Tennessee bourbon (yes, bourbon doesn't have to be made in Kentucky) sports a corn-leaning mash bill of 84% corn, 8% wheat, and 8% malted barley. The golden label on the bottle shares that the finished product was aged at least 8 years and is charcoal chill filtered. The proof is a versatile 100-proof as required by the Bottled-in-Bond Act. Consumers will be greeted with a nose of honeycrisp apple crisp Apple with crunchy oatmeal-brown sugar topping, served with caramel pecan ice cream topping. On the palate, there are more apple notes along with caramel dipping sauce, light oak char and pepper spice. This really does offer both complexity and balance between sweet and woody notes that won't break the bank.