View Full Version : "Single Barrel" vs. "Single Cask"

08-11-2003, 11:24
An exchange between CL and Paradox in another thread reminded me of a question that came up over the last week or so.

Like most of us I have become accustomed to seeing certain bottlings affixed with the "Single Barrel" designation. I understand that to mean that many barrels may be used to produce that bottling, but that the contents of each bottle comes from only one barrel.

Recently I have seen two instances (both connected with Sam's and Buffalo Trace Distillery) where the term "Single Cask" was used. In one of these instances, namely the barrel proof, 20 year-old, Van Winkle Family Reserve, we were told that the entire bottling came from just one barrel. Now those of us on Sam's email distribution list have been reminded that the "single cask" designation is also being used for a bottling bearing the Bufffalo Trace lable. Somehow it seems unlikely to me that this bottling came from only one barrel, especially since, as I believe Paradox pointed out, the words "single cask" don't even appear on the label.

My question is two-fold. What does single cask mean? Are we witnessing the genesis of a new market niche/descriptor?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-11-2003, 11:38
Are we witnessing the genesis of a new market niche/descriptor?

I believe what we are witnessing is the "Scotchification" of bourbon, if I can borrow that fom an older thread. IMHO, it is nothing more than marketing jargon, and the word "cask" probably seems "classier" to the dumbed-down masses.

08-11-2003, 12:02
Yeah, I agree with you on that Jeff. It sounds more 'classy' and maybe they're even hoping that scotch drinkers would be tempted to try this particular bottling of bourbon since the word cask was used...

As for the Sams Buffalo Trace single barrel bottling. As I understand it, it is in fact a single barrel bottling. My best guess as to why there is no difference in the label: Too much time and money has to be spent to develop a new label just for that. Now I thought it would be nice if they put a sticker saying it was a single barrel on the side or something, but they didn't. There is a label that says it was done or picked by someone over there at Sam's, but still no reference to a Single Barrel bottling.

All in all, both terms mean the same thing. Some business's may use it because they don't know better (more probable) or it is intential to try and make people from 'The Dark Side' (scotch people) interested in certain bottlings of bourbon. You've got to remember it was a private bottling, and maybe whoever chose the label design was a wine/scotch drinker and that's how they normally refer to a 'barrel'. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

08-11-2003, 12:07
Jeff is on it here. I don't recall any one referring to the warehouses that dot the Ky. countryside as Caskhouses. It's a borrow from scotch. Barrelhouses I have heard reference to. So I guess now we are making Bourbon seem more scotch like and it may appeal to scotch elitists. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

08-11-2003, 12:13
It sounds more 'classy'

I'll take exception to that Mark. It's been barrel for a few hundred years now and to change it to appeal to another group of spirits drinkers is phony as hell, Of course Proof is going the way of the horse and Buggy and we get ABV in it's place. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

08-11-2003, 12:15
Sorry Bobby, I did not mean to us it sounds classy rather I meant it may sound more classy to Scotch drinking regulars... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

08-11-2003, 12:22
You had me worried there for a minute! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

08-11-2003, 16:31
I have a bottle of BT from Binny's. Here is what they say on the web site:

"Buffalo Trace Bourbon-Binny's Hand-picked Barrel
Another Binny's first, we have been hand-picking our own barrels of Buffalo Trace for almost a year now. Elmer T. tells us where to look and we pick the barrels that best fit the classic Buffalo Trace style: Rich, but subtle; spicy, with a long, soft vanilla finish. Look up elegant in the dictionary, there is a picture of this whiskey beside it."

The bottle has a gold sticker that says "specially selected for Binny's by Joe C". I did a side by side with a previuos bottle of BT and really did not notice a difference. Both are good!

08-11-2003, 17:38
Damn straight, Bobby! And my username is staying put, too, I can tell you. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif

08-11-2003, 17:42
I hadn't thought of that! Once the new terminology is in vogue
<font color="brown"> Cask_Proof </font>

08-11-2003, 17:45
It even rings bad to the ear. Never have heard the phrase "a cask full of laughs", either!

08-11-2003, 18:36
Or even worse, "Cask_ABV". http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-11-2003, 18:43
I think that bottle from Binny's is still a 'regular' bottle of BT for all intensive purposes though, just 'specially picked' by Joe C. Maybe that is why the tastes were similiar between both of your bottles.

I am wondering now how the Single Barrel version compares... On the bottle there is a clear sticker with gold writing that simply says: Selected by Fred Rosen for Sam's wines and Spirits. Here's what they say on Sam's website about their 'Single Barrel' bottling:

08-11-2003, 19:50
Julian and/or Sam's already coined the term cask strength (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Board=Premium&amp;Number=15832&amp;p age=0&amp;view=collapsed&amp;sb=5&amp;o=&amp;vc=1) to describe their ORVW barrel proof bottling.

I also just checked my bottle and it says "Cask Strength" on the label. Here is Paradox's excellent photo (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Board=Premium&amp;Number=17693&amp;p age=0&amp;view=collapsed&amp;sb=5&amp;o=&amp;vc=1) of the label.

08-11-2003, 23:35
or even Cask_ABV?????


08-12-2003, 05:42
Scotch producers and bottlers have been using the term "cask strength" for years, at least as long as bourbon producers and bottlers have been using the term "barrel proof."

I enjoy bourbon AND scotch (and Irish, too). To me, it doesn't matter whether they use the word "barrel" or "cask." As long as what I pour out of the bottle pleases my senses, they can call the container it was aged in whatever they want. If a certain word attracts more consumers, that's great. The more people who buy quality bottlings, the more quality bottlings we're likely to see. And, I, for one, am all for that http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif


08-15-2003, 22:48
I hate to bring this up, but Scotch is way ahead of us in undiluted bottlings! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif How many barrel proof bourbons are out there? How many were available three years ago? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif There were hundreds of undiluted single malts available. Heck, there are many more "barrel stength" BOURBONS available in Europe right now than there are HERE! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

08-16-2003, 07:42
I am guessing that this speaks to American tastes in general. Our country seems to love the weak stuff - low proof whiskey, weak coffee, and weak beer. Before you start telling me about the recent growth in high proof bourbon, Starbucks, and microbrews, let me counter that those products attract a minority. All you have to do is go into any store to see that the most shelf space goes to Early Times, Maxwell House, and lite beer.

(And don't even get me started on Starbucks. Most folks get the heavily sugared/creamed fancy drinks. Sorry folks, that's not coffee, that's dessert. Real coffee is French or Expressor Roast or Caffe Verona, black with a drop of cream, venti. In fact, Starbucks a few years ago had to stoop down to American tastes and start offering the milder LightNote blends.)

08-17-2003, 00:23
Those are really good points. What is it about this country that prefers diluted down tastes, whether it's beer, or bourbon, or coffee? I went into a microbrewery in St. Louis last year and had one of their beers...it was really dark and delicious...a top quality microbrew! While I was at the bar several people came in and ordered Bud Lights. I asked the bartender whay they were ordering Bud Lights and not one of their house microbrews, and he just shrugged his shoulders and said that Bud Light was their top seller. I just don't get it. And don't get me started on those disgustingly sweet coffee drinks at Starbucks... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

08-17-2003, 06:07
And don't get me started on those disgustingly sweet coffee drinks at Starbucks...

I'm reminded of a story from Starbucks' home territory. At the Bellevue Square Mall, the most ordered coffee drink is reportedly a "Double Decaf Latte, with Skim Milk, and Equal." http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif

Kinda defeats the purpose of using decent ground beans in the first place, doncha think?

08-17-2003, 07:22
Kinda defeats the purpose of using decent ground beans in the first place, doncha think?

Amen to that! Kind of like mixing Pappy with Coke!

08-17-2003, 11:12
Kind of like mixing Pappy with Coke!

Egads! Don't even think about that!


08-17-2003, 11:34

Don't forget to make that Diet Coke for maximum (minimum?) effect. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

One of my earliest contacts with good writing, the kind that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and makes you pay attention to something that never seemed to matter before, was an essay that contrasted American-style white bread with coarse, dark, heavy bread from the Old Country. I don't recall the author. If he isn't already dead, then seeing what we have become would probably do the trick. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

08-17-2003, 12:24
Don't forget to make that Diet Coke for maximum (minimum?) effect.

Why stop there? Let's make it a Caffeine Free Diet Coke!

08-17-2003, 16:14
I'm reminded of a story from Starbucks' home territory. At the Bellevue Square Mall, the most ordered coffee drink is reportedly a "Double Decaf Latte, with Skim Milk, and Equal."

Kinda defeats the purpose of using decent ground beans in the first place, doncha think?

That reminds me of those old "Where's the beef?" commercials. Except this would be "Where's the coffee?".

08-17-2003, 19:58
I enjoy both American beer (but, never any kind of light beer) and full-flavored micro and Euro brews. Everything from Bud and Coors to Guinness, Bass Ale, and Pilsner Urqell. I prefer the full-flavored ones, but a cold Bud on a hot day is heavenly.

I was buying a 12-pack of Bud a couple of weeks ago and a stranger in the store was kidding me about it. He said that, when he was in England, an American was in a bar trying to order a beer. He asked for "the closest thing you have to American beer". The barkeeper served him water. I assume that is apochryphal. Pretty funny, though. The guy pissed me off, but I ignored him.


10-14-2003, 09:16
(And don't even get me started on Starbucks.

you also forget thet their drip coffee is crap, anyway.

I'll take a coffeehouse that roasts their own beans before my eyes, thanks http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif


10-14-2003, 10:03
With regard to Sam's being the only single barrel Buffalo Trace whiskey on the market, I am sure that is untrue. Anyone can purchase a barrel of almost any whiskey that Buffalo Trace produces and have it bottled for them. By definition that would be a single barrel.

Anyone up for a group buy? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif

10-14-2003, 15:41
Sure, of course we would need to do extensive tasting before picking the barrel! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif