History informs many of the new bottlings coming out of the South. F&W's Ray Isle tries a bourbon just launched by a 150-year-old distillery, an old-style beer made with spruce needles and more.

By Food & Wine
Updated March 31, 2015

Great New Bourbons

Photo courtesy of Maker's Mark.

Maker's 46 ($35)

For this spicy, aromatic spirit—the first new one from Maker's Mark since the company was founded in Kentucky in 1953—distillers age bourbon inside barrels with specially seared French white-oak staves on the inside. The name 46 comes from the best lot (No. 46) of the many different trial staves that Maker's Mark president Bill Samuels, Jr., tested before deciding on a winner. "We were about one week from giving up," he recalls.

Photo courtesy of Four Roses.

Four Roses 100th Anniversary Bourbon ($75)

Whiskeys that undergo 17 years of barrel aging can taste a bit dried-out and astringent. But this one from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky–based Four Roses is lush, caramel-inflected and silky-smooth, even though it's superpotent (110 proof).

Early Times 150th-Anniversary Whisky ($12 for 375 ml)

The 150-year-old distiller makes this bottling in a 1920s style. The bourbon is very appealing, with sweet wood and vanilla notes.

Southern Beer to Buy Now

Brewers in the South are finding inspiration in everything from grits to good works. Here, an outstanding new pilsner, ale and porter.

Photo courtesy of Abita.

Abita Brewing Company SOS

Louisiana's famed Abita has created a crisp pilsner called SOS (and a charitable fund with the same name) to support the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, and to aid people whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the disaster. For each bottle sold, 75 cents go to nonprofit organizations helping this cause.

Craggie Brewing Company Antebellum Ale

Jonathan Cort, Craggie's cofounder and a North Carolina native, based this intriguingly piney, lightly bitter ale on a recipe of his great- grand-uncle's. Among the ingredients: dried ginger root, molasses and two pounds of spruce needles per batch.

FullSteam Beer Hogwash

For this smoky porter from Durham, North Carolina, brewer Sean Lilly Wilson house-smokes malt over hickory wood. The result is a dark, robust ale that pairs spectacularly well with all kinds of barbecue.

More Beer and Whiskey Tips:

America's Best New Whiskeys

Brew Mastery

Bar manager Jennifer Zerboni likes to tinker with the classic mint julep during horse-racing season. She used to flavor this julep with a mint granité, but that proved "too sticky and messy." Now she makes the drink with mint simple syrup. It's light and easy, which is just what you want when you're hot and sweaty.

Whiskey Drinks

Advertisement