If you’ve ever perused the whiskey aisles at your local liquor store, you’ve probably run across the words “single barrel.” If you’re a whiskey novice, you might not understand what that means. Or maybe you assume it’s marketing gibberish. In short, “single barrel” (also called single cask) whiskeys come from one specific aging barrel. It also often comes with a label touting the barrel number and various other pieces of bottling and production information. Non-single barrel whiskeys, on the other hand, are made by blending multiple barrels, potentially from different years and mash bills.
It’s really that simple. One barrel as opposed to various barrels.
This form of whiskey has grown exceedingly popular in recent years, with many notable brands releasing their own offerings. This includes the likes of The Balvenie, Eagle Rare, and Michter’s. Since we’re all about getting tips from the professionals, we decided to ask our favorite bartenders to tell us the best single barrel whiskeys to drink this fall.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey
Marla White, lead bartender at Lona Cocina & Tequilera in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select. Approachable upgrade that carries a smooth caramel note. Even non- experienced drinkers would be able to appreciate and recognize the difference between the normal Jack Daniel’s and the Single Barrel Select.
Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Bourbon
Frantjesko Laonora, lead bartender at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Curaçao
Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon has a rich, sweet, and woody full body, with hints of fruity tastes. It’s great neat or on the rocks, or even in an old fashioned.
Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Garrison Brothers Single Barrel. Because they focus on the corn harvest including varietal and year, every single barrel is very different from the next. Corn whiskey has always interested me but the story and process of this distillery are worth a gander.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon
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Birthday gift from my sister! She knows me well! I did try it yesterday but after refreshing my palate overnight and really sinking my hooks into it tonight… I’m absolutely loving this Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel! Delicious stuff! I’ll post more with tasting notes and thoughts soon… for now I’m just gonna enjoy it! ________________________________________ #russellsreserve #russellsreservesinglebarrel #bourbonlover #bourbonwhiskey #kentuckystraightbourbon #forloveofbourbon #birthdaybourbon
Evgeny Anisimov, bartender at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa in San Diego
Russell’s Reserve is an original single barrel whiskey and happens to be one of my all-time favorites. It is a spectacular whiskey and for that reason, it became a victim of its own fame. So, if you are able to find it in the store, make sure you grab a bottle before someone else does.
1792 Single Barrel Bourbon
Crystal Chasse, beverage director at Talk Story Rooftop in Brooklyn, New York
1792 Single Barrel always has a place in my bar. It’s 98.6 proof, so it packs a punch, but the pear/plum and maple notes make this whiskey perfect to enjoy neat with a drop of water or over a large cube, which will really get the aromatics going.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
Four Roses Single Barrel is my all-time favorite. Comes in at 100 pf and doesn’t disappoint or go overboard in the heat department. The front is a bit acidic but opens up into vanilla and black pepper before finishing with lots of barrel and a touch of dark fruit.
WhistlePig 15 Year Single Barrel Rye
Brendan Bartley, head bartender and beverage director at Bathtub Gin in New York City
Best single barrel whiskey for fall for me is Whistlepig 15 Year Single Barrel Rye Whiskey. It’s barreled in Vermont oak, it’s a real small batch, and released at cask strength. There isn’t much about that sentence I don’t like. For me, this is a fall whiskey — because most whiskey that have that deep barrel finishing notes usually have baking spice at the forefront. Here, there’s a more savory note to it.
It also has those delicious chocolate and cinnamon notes, but the salty, savory flavor really adds something for me.
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon
Max Stampa-Brown, beverage director at Borrachito in New York City
Blanton’s Single Barrel. It might be predictable, but this is the first whiskey I ever had that really made me fall in love with the stuff. Huge toffee flavors, almost like a salted pretzel covered in caramel.
The first time my dad poured this up for me he looked me dead in the eyes while we raised a glass and slowly said, “Take. Your. Time”.
Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon
Gavin Humes, bartender at Scratch | Bar & Restaurant in Encino, California
This might not be a sexy pick, and certainly, there are some cool high-end single barrel whiskeys that are special, but for me, Jim Beam Single Barrel is still a go-to. It’s perfect for cocktails, it’s great for sipping. The dark caramel and slightly spicy rye-like qualities are really delicious.
Evan Williams Single Barrel
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Heavy pours tonight. But no worries, it’s almost the weekend. What’s going in your glass this weekend? 🥃 @evanwilliamsbourbon @heavenhilldistillery #evanwilliams #evanwilliamsbourbon #evanwilliamssinglebarrel #singlebarrel #bourbon #bourbonlens #thebourbonleague #heavenhill #heavenhilldistillery #heavenhillbourbon #thirstythursday
Part of the appeal of Evan Williams Single Barrel is its price. At around $30 it’s hard to find a better value single barrel bourbon. It’s full of sweet cream, vanilla, and toasted caramel flavors and it’s perfectly suited for slow sipping over an ice cube.