There’s a stark, simple beauty to a bottle of any single barrel spirit… but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be “great.” The best single barrel bourbons or whiskeys or rums reflect one barrel’s ability to age and mellow a spirit into something more than its individual parts. A quality product made in this fashion is a marriage of agriculture, yeasts, water, craftsmanship, air, forests, microbes, weather, and time. All with precious little margin for error.
The point of blending is that the aging process of a single barrel can be inexact. Whereas several barrels of the same distillation (or different distillations) can lead to a more elevated final expression. But sometimes, the strange alchemy of distillation and aging combines perfectly and you find a single barrel of booze that hits the mark on the first try. All the elements working in unison to create something great with no need for tweaking.
As fall settles in, we thought we’d throw down ten of our favorite single barrel bourbons right now. These are hefty expressions of bourbon that come from a single barrel from a single rickhouse and, of course, a single distiller. These are the barrels that rose above all the other barrels in that rickhouse — deemed so good that they could represent their distillery all on their own.
Quick note: By definition, no two bottlings of a single barrel bourbon are going to be the same. So the tasting notes below are generated according to the latest expressions tasted by the author of this post.