Each season, dozens of spirits, liqueurs and aromatized wines enter the market anew. Once a reliable, comforting bastion of standardization in comparison to wine, the spirits market’s changing values—variability from batch to batch is now often celebrated rather than stamped out, for instance—and the breakneck rise of the premium and super-premium categories have rendered it nearly as fluid.
This season, the crop of releases we’re most excited about feature mostly net-new products, conceived from a fresh recipe and idea, rather than existing products that have been iterated on by a new aging vessel or barrel selection (though we include a couple of those as well). Taken together, the 10 new and forthcoming bottles below, including a duo of cans, offer a snapshot of the changing backbar and home liquor cabinet.
Forthave Mithradates IV
The Brooklyn duo behind Forthave was an early adopter of American-made, Italian-style liqueurs with the popular Red bitter and, more recently, Yellow Génépi. The distillery’s new release, Mithradates IV, follows the historical track it began exploring with the Marseilles amaro, which is based on a medieval recipe. The vino amaro (i.e., wine-based amaro) is, according to co-owner Daniel de la Nuez, “a complex and delicious digestivo” inspired by Mithradates IV, the ruler of Anatolia circa 100 BC. “He developed ‘Mithradate,’ a legendary recipe that was one of the most sought-after herbal remedies for centuries afterwards,” explains de la Nuez. The release comes this fall after years of tweaking the recipe in the Brooklyn distillery.
- Price: $30
- ABV: 24%
Barrel to Bottle / PM Spirits Collab Scotch Malt Whisky 16 Years Old
The latest in artisan importer PM Spirits’ collaboration series, this release comes from three of the men behind 1789b, a group of collectors with an exceptional track record for idiosyncratic barrel picks, most of which have never been released to the public. While their focus has traditionally been on American whiskey, Reid Bechtle and brothers Paul and Steve Schurman selected the six hogsheads of 16-year-old single malt Scotch whisky—which were unified as a single-barrel offering (1,200 bottles total)—after repeated trips to the region to source small batches that might otherwise be overlooked. The result is this offering, which was bottled at full proof, without any additives or chill filtration. It’s expected to arrive stateside in November.
- Price: $125
- ABV: 57%
Faccia Brutto The Carciofo
Since its founding in 2020, Faccia Brutto has quickly made a name in the domestic aperitivi and digestivi market with its bracing, minty fernet, duo of amari, lean and citrusy aperitivo and, more recently, nocino. This fall, the brand will unveil a carciofo-style (i.e., artichoke-based) amaro, joining another U.S. producer, Don Ciccio & Figli, in challenging the category leader, Italy’s Cynar. Faccia Brutto’s take leans on 15 organic botanicals—including fresh artichokes from the Central Valley of California, citrus, rhubarb root, roasted dandelion root, coriander and fennel seed—sweetened with organic cane sugar, fortified with non-GMO grain spirit and bottled unaged. Coming to stores in New York in November, with a nationwide release shortly after.
- Price: $35
- ABV: 25%
Akashi Japanese Whisky Highball (Classic and Yuzu)
This may well be the most pedigreed can to hit the market since the RTD craze began. From one of Japan’s oldest family-run distilleries, and the first to obtain a license to distill whisky in the country, comes a duo of sessionable highballs. The “Classic” is based on a blended malt and grain whisky (the grain comes from MGP and makes up 10 percent of the blend), while the “Yuzu” builds on the same base and adds fresh yuzu juice. It is canned at a slightly lower 7 percent ABV. Both are set to hit the market this month.
- Price: $29.99 (four 355ml cans)
- ABV: 7% to 8%
Las Californias Gin Nativo and Citrico
The West Coast continues to be a hotbed of gin innovation, expanding a style that was once defined by prioritizing other botanicals over juniper (and dubbed “New Western”) and is increasingly difficult to neatly box up. The latest entrant to explore the terroir of the West through botanicals is Las Californias, “a dual-origin gin that celebrates the terroir that spans Alta California and Baja Mexico,” an area that was once known by the brand’s moniker. Las Californias will launch with two expressions: Nativo, which will explore the native terroir of the region prior to human migration, calling on California hops, white sage and kale; and Citrico, which seeks to bottle the post-migration identity of the land by way of apricots, almonds and citrus peels. Currently available for nationwide shipping.
- Price: $32.99
- ABV: 40%
Larusée Les Précieuses Lamartine Absinthe
From one of the top artisanal producers of absinthe comes this single-cask edition of Blanche de Léon, the Swiss estate’s “winter” bottling incorporating the native edelweiss flower. It was aged for 24 months in a barrel that previously held Meursault from one of Burgundy’s most sought-after producers. As Europe’s top anise liqueurs continue to gain the respect they deserve stateside, this release of just 298 bottles is one for the die-hards. Arriving in September via Astor Wines & Spirits.
- Price: $185
- ABV: 56.24%
Oka Kura Sweet Bermutto Sake Vermouth
With its release of Bermutto sake vermouth in 2020, Oka Kura became Japan’s first contemporary producer of vermouth (though it should be noted that Japan has a long history of aromatizing sake). That release, made from a junmai sake fortified with rice shochu and infused with Japanese botanicals, falls somewhere between a blanc and dry vermouth stylistically and quickly became a cult obsession among drink nerds. In July, the distillery, which has been producing shochu for over 140 years, released its take on a sweet vermouth. It is similarly based on junmai sake fortified with rice shochu, but sees the addition of plums and raw Okinawan cane sugar alongside a similar slate of native botanicals. Currently available for nationwide shipping.
- Price: $32
- ABV: 18%
The “freeform spirits” of Noma alums Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen have, in the five years since launching their Copenhagen-based Empirical Spirits, managed to not just reimagine what a spirit can be made from and how it should taste, but also inspire at least a handful of distillers to similarly pursue distillates that defy categorization. Along the way, they’ve amassed fanatics; their “Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall” was a particular hit stateside. Empirical’s newest release, SOKA, looks to the American heartland, distilling from a base of fresh Wisconsin sorghum juice and Kentucky sorghum syrup that undergoes a three-day fermentation with Thai Rice Chong yeast, yielding a green, estery spirit that has no comp. Available for nationwide shipping this month.
- Price: $50
- ABV: 43%
SG Shochu KOME, IMO and MUGI
The latest bartender-led spirit release comes from Shingo Gokan (formerly of Angel’s Share New York and the founder of numerous bars in Asia, including Shanghai’s award-winning Speak Low). The Japanese bartender will release three expressions of shochu, based on rice (KOME), sweet potato (IMO) and barley (MUGI), each produced separately by three of the country’s leading distillers. Shochu, which is native to Japan and boasts a production history that dates back centuries, has only recently found its way onto American backbars. Gokan’s mission with this new line is to prove to an American audience that shochu is one of the most diverse premium spirits in the bartender’s arsenal. Available nationwide in September.
- Price: $75
- ABV: 38% to 40%
While the thought of combining the appeal of alt-milk and vodka is eye-roll fodder, there’s more to this than, well, meets the eye. Founder Rebecca Robertson Pasanella, of New York’s Pasanella & Son Vintners, partnered with Matchbook Distilling, the wildly innovative outfit in Greenport, New York, run by Leslie Merinoff-Kwasnieski, for production. The slightly creamy, savory vodka is distilled from 100 percent organic oats and bottled unfiltered. For those looking to get a little weird with their vodka Martini, Voatka is available for shipping via Pasanella & Son.
- Price: $37
- ABV: 40%