View Full Version : Single Barrel - Is it really worth it?

11-10-2005, 18:35
I can fully appreciate the unique character of a bourbon that comes when a master distiller selects one special single barrel, but is it really better? Single barrel bourbons are naturally less consistent. They're interesting and lord knows I've spent too much money on them, but they're not often my first choice to drink. I like small batch but I don't know that single barrel is really a plus. Elijah Craig 12yr, most PVW's, Woodford, Old Forrester Birthday Bourbon - they're great and they're consistent but not single barrel. Doesn't the action of choosing barrels to blend for a small batch really let the distiller exercise his art? I'd really like to know everyone else's opinion.

Warmest regards,

11-10-2005, 19:33
Getting a look at the framework of a house as it's being built helps give an idea of the quality of the finished structure.
The same is true with bourbon. While all you say is inarguable about how a blended batch may well be more consistent and even 'better' than individual single-barrel bottles, the latter impart some additional knowledge about why the batched product is as it is.
An example is the Ridgemont Reserve 1792, which I've thought was better-than-average bourbon from my first taste. But the real eye-opener, for me, about its quality was a sample from a single barrel from the RR warehouse during a Bourbon Festival tour of Barton. Wow! I did not taste a better bourbon all weekend. Obviously, that particular bourbon is not plentiful enough to take its place as a separate bottling -- but it added insight into RR 1792 to realize the high quality of the component whiskeys that make it up.