Top 10 spirits launches in December
December was a great month for unusual product launches, from a spirit made from tortilla chips (seriously) to a non-alcoholic agave alternative.
There were also some interesting world whisky developments, including Pernod Ricard’s first Chinese whisky and the first in a series of English whiskies.
Here are our top 10 spirits launches from December.
Empirical x Doritos Nacho Cheese Spirit
Danish distiller Empirical has made a name for itself creating ‘uncategorised’ spirits, meaning none of its products meet the strict definitions for gin, vodka, Tequila or similar. As such, the team can distil whatever they like – and, in December, they decided to distil Doritos tortilla chips.
The spirit is said to smell and taste ‘just like the real thing’, offering the chip’s profile of nacho cheese, corn tostada, umami and a hint of acidity.
The Chuan Pure Malt Whisky
The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery has been producing spirit since 2021, but its first whisky was revealed in December.
The spirit is Pernod Ricard’s first Chinese whisky, created using three types of oak, including ‘extremely’ limited Chinese single oak.
Seedlip Notas de Agave
Pioneering alcohol-free ‘spirit’ brand Seedlip released an agave-flavoured expression in the US last month – the fourth in its portfolio.
The liquid brings a ‘herbal and fruity’ aroma with vanilla and citrus notes, and a ‘slight heat’ finish from the addition of peppercorn, with Diageo suggesting using it as a replacement for Tequila in cocktails.
Libations Rum Cask Reserve Series
Leeds-based distillery Libations debuted two rums in December, both of which were ‘tropically’ aged in the brand’s ‘warm room’.
The room is kept at a constant temperature of between 15ºC and 30ºC, with the heat cycling between these temperatures. The brand says that the process encourages the casks to expand and contract, thus imparting more flavour.
A Smith Bowman Cask Strength Bourbon Batch #3
Another December launch came from Sazerac-owned microdistillery A Smith Bowman, which releases a cask strength Bourbon every year.
This year’s release was hand-selected by A Smith Bowman distiller David Bock and aged for a minimum of nine years, with Bock revealing that the selected barrels had a ‘wonderful complexity and sweetness’.
Tamworth Distilling Sugar Plum Fairy liqueur
New Hampshire brand Tamworth Distilling expanded into absinthe, with the Sugar Plum Fairy liqueur joining its portfolio of whiskeys, gin, vodka, aquavit and more.
The liqueur features an absinthe base blended with damson plum distillate, with the brand’s founder stating that while he believes “traditional absinthes are undrinkable”, Sugar Plum Fairy “can be enjoyed straight”.
Glen Moray Phoenix Rising
Speyside distiller Glen Moray’s newest expression is a single malt inspired by a phoenix. The whisky – which was originally aged in Bourbon casks – was finished in new oak scorched by fire to release the wood’s full intensity.
It has notes of caramel, ginger and milk chocolate, and a finish that sees ‘a peppery note emerge’ and fades into ‘notes of light oak, nuts and malt’.
L’Or de Jean Martell – Réserve du Château de Chanteloup
Cognac house Martell disrupted the category with its launch of an expression that blends more than 1,400 eaux-de-vie from the four terroirs in the Cognac region.
Each eaux-de-vie was selected and aged in barrels made from 300-year-old French oak from the forests of Forêt de la Braconne, Foret de Bercé and Forêt de la Braconne.
White Claw 0% Alcohol
Eyebrows were raised when hard seltzer brand White Claw announced it had created a non-alcoholic drink range (AKA seltzers). The line is allegedly the result of ‘years of research and breakthroughs’ and features four flavours: Black Cherry Cranberry, Mango Passion Fruit, Peach Orange Blossom, and Lime Yuzu.
Explorer Series: 9 Year Old Adnams
Exploring English Whisky – the organiser of the English Whisky Festival – collaborated with Suffolk-based distillery Adnams to create a nine-year-old single malt finished in Sauternes wine casks.
The release is the first in a series that will feature different English whisky distilleries.