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The Best Small Batch Whiskeys To Sip Right Now

Small batch whiskey is a broad category. The designation of “small batch” doesn’t have any strict federal regulations like, say, bourbon or Tennessee whiskey. There’s no minimum or maximum number of barrels involved in a blend of whiskey that denotes exactly what “small” is.

Theoretically, any American whiskey that reflects a blend of anything from two barrels to 100 (or far more) can be called “small batch.” Still, the point here is that the master distillers and blenders work tirelessly to find the best barrels on hand to make something greater than their individual parts. It’s a name that denotes prestige and extra care. It also hints at a certain level of unique nuance in each bottling.

The ten bottles of whiskey below are some of our favorite small-batch whiskeys on the market right now. Most of these bottles should be fairly easy to track down. Some will take a little more time to find at specialty shops or even demand trips to the distillery. Either way, you’ll be drinking some fine whiskey when you do manage to snag one of these expressions.

MICHTER’S SMALL BATCH ORIGINAL SOUR MASH

The Story:

This bottle was the first American whiskey to be named “Whiskey of the Year” by the Whiskey Exchange in 2019. It’s very hot right. Michter’s Small Batch Original Sour Mash is a unique whiskey that uses a fermented sour mash over and over again with each new batch, much like a sourdough bread process. The mash bill is a mix of grains without a single dominating factor, meaning this is more in line with an American whiskey than a bourbon or a rye. The barrels are all hand-selected and blended into a superior sip of the good stuff.

Tasting Notes:

The sip greets you with hints of bourbon vanilla and oak. Spicy notes of cinnamon-spiked creamy pudding covered in burnt sugars rush in alongside a flourish of overripe cherries, smoky apples, fresh honey, and more vanilla. The spice is the throughline towards a warm and lasting rye finish.

ANGEL’S ENVY RUM FINISHED RYE

The Story:

Angel’s Envy is doing some of the best work in American whiskey right now. Their Rum Finished Rye is a highwater mark in small-batch blending and specialty cask finishing. The master distillers tested over 100 rums to find just the right barrel for their rye. They ended up picking a classic Caribbean rum in which they let the rye finish, resting for 18 months before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

This is a big sip of brown elixir. It opens with a hit of citrus followed by notes of maple, vanilla, sherry staves, hazelnut, oak, and spices. The rum strikes a balance with the oakiness as that sherry note echoes throughout. The sweetness of the maple and caramel carry on to a mellow finish that embraces your senses as it fades.

NOAH’S MILL

The Story:

Noah’s Mill from Willett in Kentucky is the quintessential small batch drinking experience. This high-proof bourbon hits hard with a 114.3 proof. That’s a 57 percent ABV. Amazingly, that high alcohol is never a factor on the palate as nuance is the name of the game with this sip.

Tasting Notes:

Fatty walnuts, meaty prunes, and rushes of wildflowers open this one. Those wildflowers ebb towards a relaxing lavender alongside more walnut and prunes as a spicy nature comes into play. Finally, a burnt caramel arrives with hints of char and vanilla as a sharp finish warms your senses.

BELLE MEADE CASK STRENGTH RESERVE BOURBON

The Story:

The masters at Belle Meade sourced their Cask Strength Reserve Bourbon very simply. They sample every barrel in their inventory and selected the barrels that were of high enough quality for a single barrel expression but not high enough in proof (or too high) for that bottling. So, they blended those barrels into a small batch selection that has a “cask strength” ABV (55 percent) for that extra kick.

This is a real-deal small batch with each bottle containing only seven barrels of the good stuff out in the world.

Tasting Notes:

This is a classic bourbon with notes of vanilla and caramel right upfront. Those notes are cut by a bushel of ripe stone fruits with an earthy edge. The oak and spice arrive near the end to usher in a finish that ebbs from caramel sweetness to rye spiciness as it warms your mouth and throat.

BALCONES TRUE BLUE CASK STRENGTH

The Story:

True Blue Cask Strength is a whiskey that’s neck weighs heavy from so many awards. The corn whiskey is made from locally grown sustainable Texas blue corn. It’s milled in-house, fermented, distilled, and then barreled in Balcones’ Waco rickhouse. Years later, the master distillers start tasting every single barrel to create a small batch of the best of the best high-proof (65.7 percent) juices. That selection process allows the drinker to experience one of the most unique whiskeys in America at its absolute height.

Tasting Notes:

This is an interestingly deep sip that opens with hints of a forest floor next to clear moments of corn fattiness that leads to warm buttered toast, ripe bananas, grapefruit pith, cinnamon-heavy pecan pie, and oak. The sweetness leans towards a fresh maple syrup with a masa corn feel followed by dried stone fruits and whispers of jasmine.

As the end approaches, hints of dried chilis juxtapose raw honey sweetness and an almost coffee cake heft.

FOUR ROSES SMALL BATCH SELECT

The Story:

Four Roses new and permanent bottle, Small Batch Select, blends six unique Four Roses expressions that have each been aged at least six years into one, classic bottle. The whiskey is non-chill filtered and carries a medium-to-heavy proof of 104, (52 percent ABV).

Tasting Notes:

Raspberries alongside earthy nutmeg and sharp clove open this one up. Ripe red berries carry through with a nice rush of apricot. The vanilla and oak kick in next and lead towards the spicy, cinnamon finish with a distinct thought of a fresh sprig of spearmint.

KNOB CREEK STRAIGHT RYE SMALL BATCH

The Story:

Knob Creek “patiently” ages their rye for up to nine years before selecting the best barrels to blend into their signature Straight Rye Small Batch. The high rye mash bill gives this expression a clear distinction, making it the perfect entry point to the higher echelons of the style of whiskey.

Tasting Notes:

Rye spiciness is present right away. There’s a herbaceous nature to the grains that are supported by oak. That rye spiciness carries through the taste with vanilla and oak remaining prominent alongside hints of tart cherries and pipe tobacco smoke. The finish leans back into the rye spice with a warm final note.

BOOKER’S COUNTRY HAM SMALL BATCH

The Story:

Booker’s tends to release small batches almost exclusively every year. This year’s third release of 2019, Country Ham, is one of their best. This bottle feels very bespoke but it should be noted that this is a blend of 364 barrels from three rickhouses. The juice is aged for six years and bottled unfiltered and uncut.

Tasting Notes:

Wet brown sugar and vanilla open the sip. Grass, cloves, rich caramel, more vanilla, oak, orange peel, and apples dominate the initial taste. The taste edges towards a Red Hot spicy sweetness before falling back into a rye spice and caramel apple warming end.

KINGS COUNTY DISTILLERY BOTTLED-IN-BOND BOURBON

The Story:

Kings County Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon is a phenomenal sip worth tracking down. The whiskey is bottled from a single distillery during a single season’s distillation from the same rickhouse. It’s a minimum of four years old and always at 100 proof (50 percent ABV). Kings County is a corn heavy bourbon with an 80 percent corn/20 percent malted barley mash bill, assuring corn is the prominent factor.

Tasting Notes:

Butterscotch and cornbread open this sip up. Rich toffee, dark chocolate bitterness, and five-spice… spiciness all come into play. Honey cuts in with vanilla and oak leading towards a dry finish with a slight return of the dark chocolate on the end.

PEERLESS SMALL BATCH KENTUCKY STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY

The Story:

This is a brand new bourbon on the market (having been released in June 2019). The bourbon uses a sweet mash method instead of a sour mash. Put simply, a sweet mash is a wholly new mash every time a distillation begins without the leftover from the previous fermentation. Anyway, Peerless has made a name for itself by producing some of the world’s best rye and, now, they’re putting a serious contender for the bourbon crown on the market with their new release of a Small Batch Bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Toasted oak with notes of vanilla greets you. The sip immediately veers into ripe cherry orchards. Hints of citrus linger in the background as buttery caramel cuts through rye spiciness. There’s an umami note that’s reminiscent of scotch before the spice kicks back in with more oak, vanilla, and caramel leading towards the warm finish with a linger of raw tobacco and campfire smoke.

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