Blanton’s claims to be the original single barrel bourbon. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, however what’s undeniable is how well rounded and delicious this bourbon is. Easy to sip, and easier to enjoy, Blanton’s Single Barrel consistently embodies everything you’d want to see in a single barrel. Best described as a floral bourbon, it’s full of citrus notes wrapped in classic bourbon traits of caramel and vanilla. Truly a delight to enjoy, this is a bourbon that should be savored with each sip.
Fun fact - each bottle contains one of eight unique bottle toppers. Collect them all to spell B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S. Additionally, the horse and jockey showcase different strides and poses resembling the stages of a horse race. Neat!
Since its inception, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof rarely wavers in quality, continually offering a rich complex palate and big bold finish. Its $60 price tag is a steal nowadays for a barrel proof bourbon, let alone one that features a 12 year age statement. In 2017, Heaven Hill started labeling their batches, so when that extra special batch pops up, it makes it a bit easier to pick it out if you come across it. If you’re a fan of bourbons with heavy oak influence against a rich plethora of caramel, baking spices, and tobacco leaf notes, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof will more than satisfy. It will WOW you.
Despite the proof being on the low side for a barrel proof bourbon, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength’s price point and great flavors allow it to keep company among some of the best barrel proof bourbons on the market. With few wheat based bourbons on the market and even fewer released at a high proof, it’s hard to pass this up. On the flavor side, it notably sports a good balance between its sweet and spicy notes with a full-bodied mouthfeel that coats your tongue in an array of complex flavors. Simply put, it takes what the standard Maker’s Mark offers and elevates it to a higher level. Credit must be given to Maker’s Mark who finally listened to their customers’ plea for a higher proof bourbon which has resulted in one of the best bourbons you can buy for $55.
Brown-Forman’s Whiskey Row series showcases a variety of different bourbon styles. Introduced in 2016 as the third expression in the series, 1920 Prohibition Style signifies the usual barrel proof after maturation of bourbon at the time - 115 proof. Born from Brown-Forman’s 72% corn, 18% rye, 10% malted barley bourbon mashbill, 1920 is big, bold, and immediately likeable. It’s deep mahogany appearance signals the experience that follows. It begins with rich aromas of dark fruit, burnt brown sugar, chocolate, and a hint of bananas on the nose. On the palate the richness of barrel char and dark chocolate play against the sweetness of caramel and creme brulee. Nuttiness, smokiness, and a hint of coffee add a deeper layer of complexity. Allspice and black pepper pop on the finish, then quickly dissipate leaving long lingering traces of chocolate, barrel char, and nuttiness. Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style has a unique and complex flavor profile, making it easily one of their best releases to date. It’s higher proof will allow for the addition of a few drops of water or ice, but if you can handle the proof it’s fantastically enjoyable neat.
Barrell Bourbon is sourced bourbon released periodically in sequentially numbered batches. The company’s mantra is to seek out unique whiskeys and release them at barrel proof, striving to offer no two batches that are alike. As a result, each batch brings its own unique flavor profile, often characterized by bold spicy notes with plenty of potency considering their barrel proof. While every batch may not deliver a standout experience, Barrell has proven their quality time and time again, earning a place on our favorite whiskeys of the year list three years in a row with batches 005, 006, 011, and 013. While it’s certainly not inexpensive, it’s usually fairly accessible delivering a premium experience without the need for excessive hunting. If you do find a batch you love, act fast though as they’re typical limited numbers mean individual batches aren’t around forever.