It’s never too early to start talking about fall bourbon releases, but it seems the crop mentioned here is aiming to get out just ahead of the season.

Here’s a look at a few new whiskeys coming to a shelf near you, and some bourbon news …

Louisville native releases new bourbon brand Down Home; first tasting is July 31
Down Home bourbon
Down Home launches Wednesday, July 31. | Photo by Sara Havens

Louisville native Robert Heath is taking a gamble by starting his own bourbon brand, but it’s a project he believes in whole-heartedly. A sales representative for 84 Lumber and father of (almost) four — one is on the way — Heath set aside some funds to start Down Home, which he hopes will have several releases a year.

The first release — which can be sampled and purchased at Westport Whiskey & Wine on Wednesday, July 31 — includes two bottles: a 12-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Single Barrel at 129 proof, and a five-and-a-half-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Small Batch that will be around 118-120 proof.

The former will retail for around $140, while the latter will be $60-$70.

Heath, along with a silent partner, secured the barrels from two Kentucky distilleries, which he is choosing not to name. He bought one barrel of the 12-year bourbon and eight barrels of the other, all of which were selected because they showcased the flavors he enjoys the most in bourbon — a little bit of spice and a lot of smooth, creamy caramel.

For this first release, he should have about 132 bottles of the 12-year and 1,700-1,800 of the five-and-a-half-year to sell around town through the proper distribution channels, of course. And for future releases, Heath says he’d like to come out with a straight rye whiskey and even experiment with toasted barrels.

A lover of bourbon since his college days at the University of Kentucky, Heath had purchased the barrels before he even had a name for the brand in mind.

Several buddies offered suggestions, but he went with a moniker that meant something to him and his family. Many of Heath’s relatives reside in the Paducah/Grand Rivers/Calvert City area of western Kentucky, which he lovingly refers to as “down home.” In fact, the historic log cabin on the bottle’s label is similar to one his grandmother lived in.

The Down Home Bourbon Launch Party on Wednesday runs from 6:30-8 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes two tastings. Westport Whiskey & Wine is located at Westport Village, 1115 Herr Lane.

2019 Parker’s Heritage release will be a ‘Heavy Char Rye Whiskey’

Parker's Heritage 2019Each year, Heaven Hill comes out with a limited-edition Parker’s Heritage Collection, which differs with each release. The series pays tribute to Parker Beam, the former Heaven Hill master distiller who died in 2017 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Funds raised by the last six releases have amassed more than $1 million toward ALS research and patient care.

The 2019 Parker’s is called “Heavy Char Rye Whiskey,” and according to a news release, it takes Heaven Hill’s traditional rye whiskey mash bill and ages it in level 5 charred barrels (the company’s standard char is a 3) for eight years and nine months on the seventh floor of Rickhouse Y. Got all that?

For those interested in the nerdy stuff, level 5 charred barrels are charred 50 seconds longer than the level 3 barrels — in turn burning deeper into the barrel’s staves so the whiskey can extract more flavor.

“As the second-largest holder of aging American whiskey, Heaven Hill Distillery has the privilege of showcasing the quality and range of our distilling craft through the Parker’s Heritage Collection,” said Susan Wahl, group product director at Heaven Hill, in the release. “We continue this series with thoughtful offerings that showcase the care and attention to detail for which Heaven Hill Distillery is known.”

The release, which makes No. 13 in the series, will be bottled at 105 proof and non-chill filtered, with a suggested retail price of $149.99. Expect to not see it on store shelves beginning in September.

Yellowstone’s 2019 Limited Edition Bourbon release will feature older barrels

Yellowstone 2019Good things are seeping out of Limestone Branch, the Lebanon, Ky., distillery run by brothers Steve and Paul Beams — yes, both have ties to that Beam family, and also the Dant family — including the 2019 release of Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Each year, the guys dig deep into their inventory for a unique pick in the Limited Edition series, and this one features a blend of nine-year-old and 12-year-old barrels.

“The barrels I chose were in different parts of the rick house, and each barrel’s unique location contributed to the taste profile and complexity of this bourbon,” said Steve Beam, head distiller, in a news release. “When combined, these extra-aged bourbons create a mature and complex bourbon with robust spice and oaky undertones.”

We expect the mingling of the mature barrels leads to deeper, richer flavors in the bourbon, and the release states that there are notes of toffee, dried fruit and a hint of citrus, followed by a dry finish of brown sugar and oak.

The bourbon will be bottled at 101 proof with a suggested retail price of $99.99. About 12,500 bottles will be released starting in August.

Kentucky Peerless announces Round 2 of its bourbon release

Peerless BourbonIn June, Louisville’s Kentucky Peerless Distillery came out with its first bourbon in 102 years. As a surprise to no one, it sold out in the span of a few hours.

Now, they’re hosting Round 2 of the Great Bourbon Release on Saturday, Aug. 3, starting at 9 a.m.

“First off, I want to say thank you for the overwhelming support regarding our most recent release,” said Peerless CEO and fourth-generation founder Corky Taylor in a letter to his subscribers. “We are elated at the response received from the bourbon release on June 22 and can’t wait to share yet another special day in history for our family.”

The event will feature complimentary tastings of both Peerless Rye and Bourbon every half hour from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The gift shop will close at 5 p.m.

“Driving up to Peerless and seeing a line of people who stood in the rain, waiting for our bourbon, was nothing short of breathtaking,” added Master Distiller Caleb Kilburn in the letter. “The reception was beyond anything that I could have imagined as inventory that was supposed to last better than a week disappeared in a matter of hours. … That reception drives us to continually strive to produce the best product possible and uphold the Peerless name.”

About 500 bottles will be available at the Aug. 3 release — one per person — and retail for $79. Peerless is located at 120 N. 10th St.

Jim Beam’s Clermont distillery to add Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery and re-name its campus James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits
Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery
A rendering of the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery | Courtesy of Beam Suntory

Beam Suntory has invested $60 million at the current home place of the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Ky., according to a news release issued Thursday afternoon. The funds not only will help enhance the visitor experience but also build the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery, which will house future innovation projects and provide opportunities for education and hospitality, and re-establish the James B. Beam Distilling Co.

If James B. Beam doesn’t ring a bell, it was the company’s name immediately following Prohibition. And it now will be the name of Beam Suntory’s Clermont operations going forward.

The Noe Craft Distillery, named after current Master Distiller Fred Noe, will be home to Beam’s single-barrel and small-batch brands like Booker’s, Basil Hayden and Baker’s, and also will serve as a production facility to explore new fermentation and distillation techniques.

“At Beam Suntory, we like to say that we’re all one big family, and what we’re beginning here today reinforces our leadership in bourbon, and sets us up for the future,” said Freddie Noe, Fred Noe’s son and distiller. “Now I can’t think of anyone who’s set up the future of bourbon any better than my dad, so I can hardly begin to express my pride in naming this new distillery after him.”

We suspect with the addition of the craft distillery, there will be more premium products coming out of the Beam Distillery — or should we say James B. Beam Distilling Co.

There is no timeline as to when the project will be complete.

[dc_ad size="9"] [dc_ad size="10"]
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."