The fifth Maker’s Mark UK bottle will hit shelves April 5. | Courtesy of Maker’s Mark

With so much bourbon news this week, we just can’t wait until Monday morning to share it all. So here’s a roundup of what’s come through our saturated Insider Louisville Bourbon Desk.

Henry McKenna Single Barrel nabs ‘Best in Show Whiskey’ at San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Heaven Hill’s Henry McKenna Single Barrel used to be readily available on store shelves from Liquor Barn to Kroger, but ever since it won “Best Single Barrel Bourbon” and “Best Bourbon” at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, it’s been getting harder and harder to find.

If you see it, grab it.

And just last week, the 10-year-old bourbon won even more accolades at the 2019 World Spirits Competition, nabbing the highest honor there is for a bourbon — “Best in Show Whiskey” — making it only the second time a bourbon has won the top prize in the very wide whiskey category. And yes, that includes scotch.

So your chances now of finding this relatively inexpensive (in the $30-$40 range) bourbon are getting slimmer. In fact, we ran into Jeff Crowe, general manager of Heaven Hill Distillery’s visitor experiences, on Tuesday, and he told us the phones were ringing off the hook with people looking for the product at the Bardstown distillery.

For all you bourbon geeks who like spout interesting facts between rounds of Left Right Center, that very Henry McKenna that won all the awards was distilled right here in Louisville. No kidding. Because, as you may or may not know, all Heaven Hill bourbons and whiskeys are distilled at the company’s Bernheim Distillery in west Louisville.

Born in Louisville, aged in Bardstown.

“Quality and consistency are two values that have persisted across Heaven Hill since our company began distilling American whiskey in 1935,” said Heaven Hill President Max L. Shapira in a news release. “Henry McKenna, and our entire American whiskey portfolio, is a shining example of the tradition instilled by our late Master Distiller Parker Beam and carried forth by our unrivaled team at Heaven Hill Distillery.”

Well heller, Weller Full Proof

If you see this, grab it, too.

There have been whispers of a new Weller product coming this year, and those wet dreams — er, I mean rumors — were confirmed Thursday by Buffalo Trace Distillery. Weller Full Proof — a stout 114-proof, non-chill-filtered, wheated bourbon — will make its long-awaited debut on store shelves in June.

And like most Buffalo Trace products, the supply is limited, and this product will only be released once a year. Which translates to: You’ll never see one in a store, so your best hope will be to score a pour at your favorite bar, restaurant or liquor store.

This product will be the highest proofed Weller available (besides the extremely limited William Larue Weller), since out of the current three products — Special Reserve, Antique and Weller 12 — the Antique was the highest at 107.

And the non-chill-filtered offering is a cherry on top for bourbon aficionados like me who want to taste the bourbon as close as it can get to being inside the barrel. Most bourbons are chill filtered to remove residual oils and such so that if it gets cold or thrown into a freezer, it won’t get cloudy. Well, bourbon purists like the cloudy and believe those oils add to the bourbon’s body and flavor.

“We expect fans of Weller will be excited about this new offering,” said Kris Comstock, senior marketing director of Buffalo Trace, in a news release. “Bourbon drinkers are asking us for high-proof and non-chill-filtered bourbon more and more. Bar owners and liquor stores who have selected barrels of Weller over the years will regularly request their bourbon to be nonchill filtered. It will be nice to offer Weller Full Proof as an option.”

This one is going to be tasty, we have no doubt. It’s just a matter of scoring a taste that’ll be the hardest part.

Weller Full Proof will be available in June for a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Next University of Kentucky Maker’s Mark bottle will hit shelves April 5

Complete your series.

UK basketball fans and bourbon collectors unite on their love of this unique bottle collection from Maker’s Mark, and this year’s release will complete the five-year series. It’ll hit Kentucky retail shelves on Friday, April 5.

This year’s bottle celebrates the 2012 NCAA National Champion team and shows Coach Calipari cutting down the net. The series began in 2016 and raises funds for the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS) at UK, which supports student athletes across all sports.

There’s usually a special signing event held at Keeneland each year, and this time it’ll be held on Friday, April 12, and feature Coach Cal and some members of the 2012 team.

We’re going to quote this next part directly from the news release as to not lead anyone astray: “Anyone wanting to attend the signing MUST first get a free ticket online after FIRST creating an account. The free tickets will become available online at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 8, and also disappear pretty quickly.”

So there you have it. Get the ticket, or just stand in line at your favorite liquor store. Go Cats!

In case you missed it …

We’ve already written about a handful of new releases either already out or coming soon. As Derby releases go, we have the annual Woodford Reserve Derby bottle; the special Kentucky Derby Festival Evan Williams bottle available at the downtown distillery; and a couple of special Four Roses Kentucky Derby Festival picks as well, including single barrel picks for the two contestants in the Great Steamboat Race.

Bulleit has released a 12-Year-Old Rye Whiskey in select states, and from a sample we tried during this year’s Bourbon Classic, it is quite tasty and should stand up well in a cocktail. Four Roses also is just about ready to launch its first permanent product-line extension in more than 12 years with the Four Roses Small Batch Select. That should be out sometime next month.

Of course there are many more, and we will continue to update you as we get word — or samples.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."