Most of the bourbons you are drinking, whether craft or mass produced, are blended. Any number of barrels are combined to achieve a consistent flavor profile the master distiller prefers. Single barrel bourbons are different. As the name implies, it is whiskey taken from one barrel and not blended. So, a bottle of the same hooch, aged for the same amount of time, taken from two different barrels will be distinguishable. For the bourbon devotee, drinking from corresponding casks is a pretty righteous way to delve into the whiskey they worship.
Every barrel is different and is moved by the spirit in a slightly (some times wildly) different way, even if they are made from the same lumber supply at the same cooperage. The nature and beauty of wood is that every tree, and every board they produce, is distinctive, with variations in grain and texture created by how they grew over their lifetimes. So, the wood is telling a little of its life story in every glass, speaking in tongues to your palate. Hopefully you are listening. Here are five single barrel bourbons to explore how the wood makes the whiskey.
Originally created By Elmer T Lee in 1984, Blanton’s was the first widely released single barrel bourbon and has become a whiskey icon in the nearly 35 years since. It’s a thick mouthful with notes of oak, vanilla, citrus and long, luxurious finish.
Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon
Single Barrel is bottle that can get lost on the liquor shelf amongst it’s other Knob Creek brethren. But it’s worth searching out. Notes of nuts, oak and signature Knob Creek vanilla make it a lovely sipper. Oh, and at 120 proof sip slowly.
Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled in Bond
It’s a little tough to believe, but Henry McKenna Single Barrel is still under $30. A diamond in the bottom shelf rough, this McKenna is 10 years old and bottled in bond at 100 proof. A rich mouthful, it chalked full of oak as well as spicy and sweet notes that make for a wonderfully balanced glass.
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon
Like most of the limited releases from Michter’s, the 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon gets snapped up pretty quickly. So, if you see a bottle, grab it and run to register. It’s a caramel-y dram with just enough spice to warm your palate and your heart.
Four Roses Single Barrel
We’ve said it before and it bears repeating, Four Roses Single Barrel is one of the best values in bourbon. You can still pick up a bottle for less $40 and you’ll be glad you did since it boasts notes of cocoa, cherry, toffee and caramel.