Whiskey Gateways

The major whiskey brands all have their honey-infused options, but recently there’s been a move towards the bee product’s tree-trapped cousin: You can now drink Maple syrup. These were two likely choices for whiskey’s attempt to ease further into the mixing market with sweeter notes that tame its natural bite. Flavors like apple cider and cinnamon followed, proffering spice notes that married well with the gutsiness of some American whiskeys. Purists may cry foul, but the trend offers a less daunting and usually well-crafted intro into brown goods. And, just in time for summer sipping, some very unique flavored varieties are appearing behind the bar:

Sons of Liberty
Summer Hop Flavored Whiskey

The brew starts life as an IPA from Connecticut’s Cottrell Brewing, is then distilled and aged in American oak barrels. For the final flourish, the spirit is dry hopped—additional hops are added directly to the barrel with Sorachi Ace and Citra hops. The result is an undeniably summery concoction, redolent with hallmark IPA flavors of bright citrus. $42, 750ml; solspirits.com

Botanical Rye

Fine rye whiskey is aged in charred oak barrels then infused in small batches with a bevy of whole botanicals including saffron and orange peel, to create this unique offering from the Georgetown Trading Co. The flavors are exotic and run all over the lot (herbal tea, dark coca, gin), but surprisingly well balanced upon the rye backbone. And, the incredibly long finish keeps on giving. $40, 750ml; botanicalrye.com

Bird Dog
Peach Flavored Whiskey

“This dog don’t bite.” The addition of peach sweetens and rounds out the young whiskey creating a simple framework to showcase the fuzzy stone fruit. And it’s all there, with no surprises: Juicy peaches on the nose, the first sip and the final, lingering taste, with a hint of vanilla and alcohol. $20, 750ml; birddogwhiskey.com

Learn it: A whiskey can be called straight after it has been aged for at least two years in oak barrels.