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The Best Single Barrel Bourbons, Ryes, And Whiskeys To Get You Through Self-Isolation

In times like these, it easy to want to indulge in anything comforting. And with government-imposed isolation and quarantine terms in place, having something to look forward to each day is a must. Maybe it’s a scoop of really good ice cream or binge-watching that sitcom you already watched a hundred times or maybe it’s ending each day with a great glass of whiskey.

The latter bit of comfort is what we’re concerned with today. If you are going to have a dram in times like these, why not make it the best single barrel bourbons, ryes, or whiskeys you can find and make every sip count?

Single barrel expressions do exactly what they say on the label. They’re whiskeys that are bottled directly from a single barrel (get it, they’re isolated alone, just like each of us!). The barrel is hand-selected by the master distillers to be the shining example of what that distillery and rickhouse can accomplish with no alterations whatsoever. This is the rare stuff that’s expected to knock your socks off. Which is good because you’ve probably been wearing those same socks for a week now.

The bourbon, rye, and other whiskey expressions featured below are all bottles that you can get delivered to your door right now (just click on the prices). Take your time. Find the flavor profile that most entices you. Then, cuddle up with your favorite streaming service and take that f*cking edge off with a proper dram of the good stuff.

Just don’t forget to hydrate, fam. A hangover after drinking alone leaves you with no one to blame but yourself.

Koval Single Barrel Millet Whiskey

Style: American Whiskey
ABV: 40%
Distillery: KOVAL Distillery, Chicago, IL
Average Price: $49.99

The Whiskey:

Chicago’s Koval Distillery is all about the local grain-to-glass experience. Their use of sustainably-grown local millet is unique in the whiskey world and creates a gluten-free and kosher whiskey direct from a single barrel. This is an unfiltered American whiskey that’s unlike any other.

Tasting Notes:

This interesting dram has a sweetness that leans into honey, wildflowers, and vanilla. Hints of anise and clove drive the taste with a nice nod to oak char and a note of a dusty library leather. The spice and florals carry through to a warm and velvety end.

Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Straight Rye

Style: Straight Rye Whiskey
ABV: 42.4%
Distillery: Michter’s Distillery, Louisville, KY
Average Price: $45.99

The Whiskey:

This small rollout of whiskey is a single barrel wonder. There are only so many bottles made every year, making this a little harder to find but worth the hunt. The juice is classic rye that’s hit that perfect spot while resting in the rickhouse, requiring no tampering with whatsoever before going in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

The rye spice is front-and-center with a clear black pepper note mingling with a freshly mowed lawn, sprigs of fresh mint, and blooming fields of wildflowers. Those florals and spice barrel roll through the palate with a clear sense of a well-charred barrel bringing about depth and textural resonance.

Finally, the spice peaks with an embracing warmth that lingers on the senses.

Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky Single Barrel

Style: American Single Malt Whisky
ABV: 56.2%
Distillery: Balcones Distillery, Waco, TX
Average Price: $77.54

The Whiskey:

This masterclass expression is an American single malt that’s worth the price tag. The juice is aged for around four years in a warm Texan rickhouse until each barrel is exactly right. The barrels are painstakingly selected to represent the best of the Scottish malted barely juice the distillery creates.

Tasting Notes:

Stone fruits mix with ripe bananas and juicy pears as rose water and fresh honeycomb lead towards a hint of citrus. That citrus turns into bitter orange marmalade as a sense of well-buttered toast comes into play with a rich and velvet texture. The bready malts mingle with spicy oak notes on a finish that’s powerful and to the point.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey

Style: Tennessee Whiskey
ABV: 47%
Distillery: Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Lynchburg, TN
Average Price: $52.99

The Whiskey:

You can never go wrong with a nuanced Tennesee whiskey. The subtly of this single barrel expression of the iconic Jack Daniels whiskey highlights why the brand is so beloved. The single barrels pulled from deep in the Jack Daniel’s rickhouses will have you falling in love with the refined Tennessee style for the first time or all over again.

Tasting Notes:

The first thing you notice is a subtle barrel with a toasted edge that leads towards caramel and whispers of Bananas Foster. Bright apple and pear orchards in full bloom on a sunny spring day lead towards notes of vanilla, baking spice, and more woody oak. Finally, that fruit, burnt sugar, and oak crescendo with a warm-yet-subtle finish.

Willett Straight Rye Whiskey Single Barrel

Style: Straight Rye Whiskey
ABV: 54%
Distillery: Willett Distillery, Bardstown, KY
Average Price: $52.99

The Whiskey:

This small-time family-run distillery takes its time to make great rye whiskey. The rye is a farm-to-glass masterpiece that’s usually aged for four years before each barrel is hand-selected and bottled for its brilliance of form. Each bottle will come with a unique barrel number, ABV, and year statement — letting you know exactly how unique it is.

Tasting Notes:

Expect cherries and big notes of rye spice that lean into Christmas spices and wisps of fresh vanilla. The warm rye spice leads towards a billow of pipe tobacco smoke as the cherries become more candied and spiced along the way. The velvet mouthfeel combined with the sharp spiciness and sweet cherries is counterpointed with a rush of fresh spearmint as the full-bodied finish lingers on the senses.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel Bourbon

Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
ABV: 50.5%
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY
Average Price: $69.99

The Whiskey:

Wild Turkey’s master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russel hand select the best barrels from the Wild Turkey line for this expression. The barrels are generally eight to nine years old and hold the best cut of the high-rye Kentucky bourbon produced by Wild Turkey.

Tasting Notes:

Rye spice, vanilla, and rich caramel lead to a bushel of apples, Cherry Coke, and more rye spice. Toasted oak, more ripe cherries and apples, and warming spice dominate the subtle nature of the sip. The spice brings about a big finish that’s cut with a nice dose of fruity sweetness and an echo of smoke and leather.

Four Roses Single Barrel Private Barrel Selection Bourbon

Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
ABV: 50%
Distillery: Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY
Average Price: $64.99

The Whiskey:

Each of these bottlings comes from a private reserve of single barrels for retailers, chefs, and bartenders. The barrels are aged for nine to eleven years and each barrel yields anywhere from 150 to 200 bottles each, making this a unique and much sought after bottle of booze.

Tasting Notes:

Sweet caramel and vanilla dominate a light-touch of black pepper spice and floral notes. The apple orchard and charred oak help the spice stay mellow as the caramel sweetness carries on throughout the palate. The end is a subtle velvet warmth that fades slowly through florals, spice, and more caramel.

WhistlePig Single Barrel Rye

Style: Straight Rye Whiskey
ABV: 58.5%
Distillery: Alberta Distillers
Average Price: $79.99

The Whiskey:

WhistlePig’s single barrel program is a unique one. This is more of a select-your-own-adventure sort of expression. Reserve barrels are set aside for retailers, bars, restaurants, and rye enthusiasts to bottle their own ten-year-old rye direct from the barrel. The bottles then make it out in the wider world where you too can enjoy the best WhistlePig has to offer.

Tasting Notes:

Each bottling is going to be a little different. Expect dark fruits, grassy notes, baking spices, vanilla, and caramel upfront. The taste will the ebb towards green apple, ground white pepper, and more vanilla next to a clear sense of old oak and libraries. Finally, the sip should end on a nice flourish of freshly cut grass, rye spice sharpness, and caramel.

The Balvenie Single Barrel First Fill Aged 12 Years

Style: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
ABV: 47.8%
Distillery: The Balvenie Distillery, Dufftown, UK
Average Price: $99.99

The Whiskey:

This might be the most unique bottle on the list. Yet, at less than $100, it’s still very accessible. The juice is made from The Balvenie’s very own malted barley. The hot juice then goes into “first-fill” ex-bourbon barrels that have been specifically chosen for their sweetness and vanilla charm. Each barrel yields about 300 bottles of very unique, endlessly interesting whisky.

Tasting Notes:

Notes of fresh and crisp apples and pears mingle with vinous grape juice. Clear bourbon vanilla arrives next to hints of malty smoke and oak char as cinnamon-laden apple pie brings depth to the dram. The end has a rich nature that brings back the brightness of the fruit and sweetness of the bourbon notes.

Stranahan’s Single Malt Single Barrel

Style: American Single Malt Whiskey
ABV: Varies
Distillery: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, Denver, CO
Average Price: $66.99

The Whiskey:

Colorado’s Stranahan’s keeps a private selection of barrels in their rickhouses that allows collectors and brands to choose from for these bottles. Each one will be a little different. Yet each bottle will be a high-water mark of the style and craftsmanship of the Rocky Mountain distillery.

Tasting Notes:

Expect apples baked in brown sugar and cinnamon with flourishes of fresh mint and buttery malted pie crusts. The fruit leads to Christmas spices which, in turn, lead to white and black pepper spice with a clear sense of dusty leather and charred oak.

The sharp spice and bright fruit lead towards a texturally deep and velvety finish that lingers on the palate.

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