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  1. #1
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    Single Barrel vs. Blends

    In my relatively short time as a bourbon lover, I've noticed that my taste consistently leans toward single barrel offerings like ERSB 10, FRSB (best bourbon I've ever had) and EC18. The best single malt I've had so far, Balvenie 15 YO, is also a single barrel (101 proof, too, oh yeah!).
    Is there something beyond my appreciation of the fact that the whiskey or whisky came from one barrel only or is there something markedly different about single barrels in general? I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that blends can tend to be more complex than a single barrel, but I've found no lack of said complexity in the whiskeys and whisky I've named here. The Balvenie is unreal in the complexity department.
    I'm not just fascinated with the concept of a single barrel whiskey, it just seems like the sb's are the best ones I've tasted. Admittedly I've not had a huge selection of bourbons to taste so my comparative sense might be a little undernourished. I did have a FR Super Premium in Japan recently aqnd, while it was really good, I'd take a dram of the SB over a bottle of the SP any day. Okay, maybe not, I'm stupid but I think you know what I mean.
    I'm rambling a bit here. What do you guys think?
    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    You won't go wrong by sticking with quality stuff, whether blend or single. There are no sub par bottles on your list and at that quality level it really is a matter of taste.
    Regards,
    Squire

  3. #3
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    See the article on single barrel and small batch:

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/articles/mwsbb.html

    Because you are starting with the select barrel(s) you are already getting the most complex, flavorful product....blending...with non-select barrels will result in a different, less complex product. So, your taste buds are not lying...that is not to say blends are not good...just that by trying to maintain more predictable flavor profiles you simply dilute the "best" into the rest. Does this make sense?

  4. #4
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Quote Originally Posted by Jono View Post
    See the article on single barrel and small batch:

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/articles/mwsbb.html

    Because you are starting with the select barrel(s) you are already getting the most complex, flavorful product....blending...with non-select barrels will result in a different, less complex product. So, your taste buds are not lying...that is not to say blends are not good...just that by trying to maintain more predictable flavor profiles you simply dilute the "best" into the rest. Does this make sense?
    I hear you, brother, thanks. I know there must be really, really great blends out there, I'm open minded enough to try anything at this point, but the single barrels just seem to get me, and I seem to get THEM a little more. Maybe it's a mano y mano thing, but I love the concept of "Here I am, from a single barrel. Deal with it!!" If ya know what I mean.
    Cheers!

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Let me just inject that "blend" as it is being used here is problematic. In whiskey terminology, "blend" isn't just a synonym for "mixture." It refers to a product that contains two distinctly different spirits. In the case of an American blend, it's a mixture of straight whiskey and neutral spirits, i.e., vodka. In the case of a Canadian, Irish or Scottish blend, it is a mixture of flavorful, low-proof whiskey and a nearly-neutral base whiskey that has little flavor on its own.

    On the other hand, straight bourbons that are not single barrels are made by mixing whiskey from multiple barrels together, but all of the whiskey is straight bourbon. It is incorrect usage to refer to these as "blends," even though that is what they are by the plain meaning of the word.

  6. #6
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    Let me just inject that "blend" as it is being used here is problematic. In whiskey terminology, "blend" isn't just a synonym for "mixture." It refers to a product that contains two distinctly different spirits.
    A while ago i picked up an old Cream of Kentucky thinking I really scored, man was I happy...then I got home and found out it was blended and contained only 27.5% whiskey and the rest GNS.

    Still have the bottle, scared to try it, but i guess it's probably not bad, right????
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Just add Buffalo Trace to it (say 50/50), it will be great.

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    Let me just inject that "blend" as it is being used here is problematic. In whiskey terminology, "blend" isn't just a synonym for "mixture." It refers to a product that contains two distinctly different spirits. In the case of an American blend, it's a mixture of straight whiskey and neutral spirits, i.e., vodka. In the case of a Canadian, Irish or Scottish blend, it is a mixture of flavorful, low-proof whiskey and a nearly-neutral base whiskey that has little flavor on its own.

    On the other hand, straight bourbons that are not single barrels are made by mixing whiskey from multiple barrels together, but all of the whiskey is straight bourbon. It is incorrect usage to refer to these as "blends," even though that is what they are by the plain meaning of the word.
    Thanks, Chuck. I understand that bourbons are blended with other bourbons but didn't know about canadian, et al. What would be a more correct term?
    Thanks for your input, I always learn a lot from your contributions here.
    Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Yes, clearly "blended" has a connotation that implies something other than as intended....a perfectly good word spoiled.

    The article above uses:

    "These are dumped together,"

    Dumped bourbon....mixed bourbon....combined bourbon....pooled bourbon...joined bourbon.....others?

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Single Barrel vs. Blends

    Quote Originally Posted by Jono View Post
    Yes, clearly "blended" has a connotation that implies something other than as intended....a perfectly good word spoiled.

    The article above uses:

    "These are dumped together,"

    Dumped bourbon....mixed bourbon....combined bourbon....pooled bourbon...joined bourbon.....others?
    I believe the term used is "mingled". Or they can bastardize "vatting" (which implies aging once mingled to marry the flavors).
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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