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Single Barrel Whiskey Explained

In this article, we explain single barrel whiskey and share how it can be a difference maker.

Questions You May Be Considering

  • What is a single barrel whiskey and what does it mean?
  • How is single barrel whiskey different than normal whiskey?
  • Why do people like single barrel whiskeys?
  • Who makes the best single barrel whiskey?

Typical Barreling Process

It may surprise you, but the majority of whiskey bottles are distilled from the contents of over a thousand whiskey barrels. Let’s take Jack Daniel’s for example, a single bottle is poured from a vat of whiskey that comes from many different barrels. Each whiskey barrel, Jack Daniel’s retains a portion of the liquid, let’s say 20%, and adds new whiskey contents to the barrel for aging. The 20% is retained in the barrel to ensure the experience is consistent and every bottle tastes identical; hence, the volume of barrels increases due to the retention from prior mixtures. If your whiskey doesn’t contain ‘small batch’ or ‘single barrel’ on the label, you can assume it’s coming from a process similar to the one described here.

Single Barrel Process

After reading the typical barreling process, your anticipation is absolutely correct, a single barrel whiskey comes from – a single barrel (not complicated). The processing of single barrel whiskey is more complicated and expensive for obvious reasons, i.e. the ‘production assembly’ is less broad and more tedious. There is added craftsmanship in single barrel whiskeys, which brings in a different audience, especially the Instagram community that we all hate.

Importance of Single Barrel Whiskeys

Single barrel whiskeys are important for beginning whiskey drinkers. When you’re developing a whiskey palate, it’s crucial to put two, different single barrels side-by-side and determine if you can taste the difference. Single barrel whiskeys are often dedicated efforts by a distillery, and they pay off with bolder flavors and more depth in the finish. I’m a fan of single barrels and seek these out from the distilleries I know and love.

Degenerate Discussion

I tried my first side-by-side single barrel tasting while attending a party at a buddy’s house; Evan Williams was our drink of choice. We were six whiskeys deep, but I proudly distinguished the different tasting notes in the whiskeys which were bottled from different barrels. This was an informing moment for my palate and my first time learning about single barrel whiskey. Years later, I have tasted dozens of single barrels and appreciate the hustle of the distilleries that offer these bottles; they’re some of my favorite…this is a similar outcome to the night at my buddy’s where we proceeded to taste a dozen more whiskeys. There’s nothing like tasting a $200 bottle of whiskey after five hours of drinking, needless to say, there was a video of me dancing. Cheers Degenerates.

List of Recommended Single Barrel Whiskeys

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