Getting satisfaction, at $6,300 a bottle

The Rolling Stones, who seem to have been on the public scene forever, are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a rock band this year.

To mark the occasion, Suntory Liquors of Japan is creating a special-edition whiskey to mark the occasion.

There should be little problem identifying the bottle, shaped in the form of the Rolling Stones' tongue and lips emblem.

Six whiskies -- with each selected from a significant time in the band's history -- are being used to create the spirit. Production was limited to a mere 150 bottles, priced at $6,300 each.

A 1962 Yamazaki represents the year the band was formed. A 1971 whiskey pays tribute to the introduction of the tongue and lips logo. A 1972 Yamazaki malt will mark the year of release of the album “Exile on Main St.” The other whiskies will be a Hakushu malt and a Chita grain, both from 1990, when the Stones made their first trip to Japan.

The limited edition will go on sale this week.

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Alcohol-free ‘whiskey’ hits the store shelves

The inherent silliness in something called alcohol-free whiskey goes on.

A report on a website called North America Business Review touts "the world's first, alcohol-free whiskey-flavored drink ... seen now on grocery store shelves by the name ArKay."

The ArKay process, according to spokesperson Sylvie Seguinaud, has the appearance, taste, and aroma of traditional whiskey.

"Traditional whiskey," presumably means actual whiskey. ArKay, however, is "produced with no alcohol at all in the first place."

So, it's alcohol free, right?

Well, not exactly..

Seguinaud told the website that ArKay's "de-alcoholized liquid may still contain fragments of alcohol, so it is not always the right answer for people with medical conditions, with certain religious beliefs, or with other personal reasons."

So, it's "de-alcoholized" even though it is "produced with no alcohol in the first place"? Right.

Seguinaud says it took five years of research and tastings to create the whisky-flavored alternative, and the proprietary recipe follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The 32-ounce bottle sells for $15 and is available online.

ArKay Cola, a pre-mixed version, is scheduled to be on store shelves within a month or so.


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Woodford releases seventh in Master's Collection

Woodford Reserve this week unveiled the seventh release in its limited edition  Master's Collection, which will be released in early November.

This release, called Four Wood, is a unique batching of mature Woodford Reserve bourbon which has been aged in American Oak, as required by law for all bourbons, and finished in barrels made from maple wood, and from those used to mature both sherry and port.

Woodford Reserve began to experiment with wood finishing in 1999. Notes master distiller Chris Morris, "The batching ratios of the three finishing barrels were painstakingly chosen so that no one character dominated the final product. Instead, Four Wood is so balanced that the palate effects of each of the four woods plays a discernible role in the final flavor presentation."

With each release, one of the five sources of flavor is changed for the Master's Collection expressions. The sources -- grain, water, fermentation, distillation, and maturation -- are unique to bourbon whiskey, and altering just one of them creates a totally new flavor profile.

Previous Master's Collection releases were Four Grain, Sonoma-Cutrer Finish, Sweet Mash, Seasoned Oak, Maple Wood Finish and Rare Rye Selection. They are released periodically at the master distiller's discretion, and are bottled only once.

Each bottle is individually numbered and presented at 94.4 proof (47.2% abv). Limited cases are available with a suggested retail price of $99.99 for a 750ml bottle.

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Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select begins slow rollout

Sinatra, and Jack, in concert.
Frank Sinatra's long love affair with blues, broads and booze, as he often phrased it, was well chronicled during the iconic singer-actor's lifetime. Now, 14 years after his death, his favorite brand of whiskey is honoring him.

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select was unveiled this week, the first step in a drawn-out marketing plan.

Sinatra Select, bottled at 90 proof (45% abv), is matured longer than the standard Jack Daniel’s, in "Sinatra barrels" that have carved interior grooves to expose the whiskey to more wood. That results in a faster maturing spirit.

The new expression will be launched -- with an initial suggested retail price of $150 -- at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas Airport in December. It then will be rolled out to about 200 other airport locations around the world in January.

The marketing plan calls for selling Sinatra Select at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, TN, beginning in 2013, and eventually being made available in other domestic markets.

Why the delays?

“We hope people will both collect it and consume it,” said Jim Perry, managing director of Brown-Forman Travel Retail. "The year 2015 will be Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday. Over the next couple of years, we’ll be building up to that moment."

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George Dickel's new rye a bargain price

George Dickel turns out a very nice Tennessee whiskey. But, like a growing number of distillers, it's putting the spotlight on a new rye.

George Dickel Rye is a straight rye whisky matured in new charred oak barrels for at least five years. The mash bill is 95% Indiana rye and 5% malted barley. It is bottled at 90 proof (45% abv).

Besides the Dickel reputation, another drawing card is the suggested retail price: $25 for the 750ml bottle.

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Johnnie Walker debuts 2 new high-end blends

Johnnie Walker may be the world's top seller of blended whiskies, but the company isn't resting on its laurels.

The Scottish distiller, best known for its Red Label and Black Label versions, has unveiled a pair of pricier blends -- Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label.

The target market is affluent Scotch drinkers, many of whom are single-malt purists who like such brands as Lagavulin and Talisker, which Johnnie Walker also makes. Market research says that consumer group has steadily been growing by about 5% per year.

Gold Label Reserve will be priced at $78.95 a bottle, Platinum Label at $119.95.

Ewan Gunn, Diageo's global Scotch whisky ambassador for Diageo which owns Johnnie Walker, "To make a good single malt, you make one good product, you distill it, you mature it, you bottle it and your job is done.

"When you're making a good blended Scotch whisky, you have to do that 30, 40, 50 times with entirely different whiskies. Then you have to bring them together in perfect harmony and only then is your job done. So for me, it's a testament to true skill to be able to make a really good blended Scotch whisky."

The Gold Label Reserve blend is highlighted by the inclusion of malt whisky from the casks of the Clynelish Distillery, which traces its roots to 1819. Platinum Label contains single malt and grain whiskies from all parts of Scotland for a blend matured for at least 18 years.

The new expressions replace the Green Label and Gold Label 18.

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Glengoyne expanding its whisky portfolio

The Glengoyne brand has been repackaged and expanded.

Three new malts have been added to the holdover lineup.

The new malts are a premium 15 year old, a cask strength that replaces the current 12-year-old cask strength, and a new 18 year old replacing the current 17.

The whiskies, which will come on the market in November in the UK and presumably in the U.S. soon after, are finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

Neil Boyd, UK commercial director for Ian Macleod Distillers which owns the brand, said, "We’ve been working on the enhancement of the Glengoyne range over a long period of time. At a time when the industry is squeezing every last liter out of their distilleries, we hold true to our craft ... by distilling slower than anyone else in Scotland."

The suggested retail prices are $75 for the cask strength, $77 for the 15 year old, and $120 for the 18 year old.

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