Breaking Bourbon Single Barrel Club picks are selected by Breaking Bourbon often with the help of Patreon supporters. The bottles are made available to Patreon supporters first by pledge tier. If any bottles remain after all supporters have had an opportunity to purchase, they are made available to the public on a first come, first served basis. Each barrel is sponsored by a retailer partner, who sells the bottles directly to end purchasers.
Retailer Partner: Seelbach’s
Name: Pinhook Straight Rye
Company: CJS Beverage Corp.
Distillery: MGP Ingredients, Inc.
Age: 3 Years
Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Yield: 204 Bottles
Release Date: November 2019
For this pick, we partnered with Seelbach’s, which was founded by Blake Riber, also the creator of Bourbonr and the Bourbonr Facebook group. An online-only retailer with a twist, we recently interviewed Riber to discuss how he’s running his shop differently than everyone else. “Unlocking Craft Spirits” he calls it - seeking out up-and-coming craft distilleries and learning about their process and tasting through their products to find hidden gems. Pinhook is certainly an up-and-coming brand that should be on everyone’s short list.
This pick was special because not only did we hold it onsite at Castle & Key Distillery in Millville, Kentucky, but we were also joined by Ryan Cecil, co-host of the Bourbon Pursuit podcast. All of us walked away from this pick unanimously declaring it the craziest barrel pick we’ve ever experienced. More on that in a bit.
Pinhook is a unique brand. Their rye is currently sourced from MGP and blended by Sean Josephs at the Castle & Key Distillery. In 2017, Castle & Key began distilling rye for Pinhook, which allows the company to be able to fine-tune the flavor profile to their liking. For our barrel pick, the barrels were all ryes distilled by MGP and aged at Castle & Key.
A normal barrel pick for Pinhook is usually straightforward. A few barrels are rolled out, and you narrow down your final selection from the few that were presented to you. When we reached out to Sean inquiring about a barrel pick, he reached back with an idea that we couldn’t say no to. Usually Sean and Brett Connors taste through a lot of 40 barrels to pick out a handful of barrels that will be offered up for their single barrel selection. What Sean suggested was that we go through this process ourselves. How could we say no to that!
So one day in June we traveled to tCastle & Key and had an epic barrel pick. 40 barrel samples were pulled, they were broken up into five groupings of eight barrels, and everything was proofed down to 40 proof. (A quick side note on why 40 proof: when sampling bourbon, Brett proofs down to 40 to allow a general feel for what the whiskey can deliver without burning out your taste buds.)
With five groups of eight, we decided to break it down even further into groups of four. Our end goal was to narrow this selection down to a manageable group of the best from each lot, which we would then sample at barrel proof. In some cases we did not pass any, while in others we passed more than one. Once we worked our way through all 40 barrels, we were left with eight final contenders. We went back to all the ones we pulled to make sure that we were pulling out the eight barrels that we truly loved.
After this initial round, we took a tour of the Castle & Key grounds with Brett to give our palates a break. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous and sprawling. Meticulous care has been put into this distillery’s restoration and it’s truly a destination to experience. We also got to sample Pinhook Rye that was distilled by Castle & Key and is currently aging. It showed great promise and we look forward to doing a single barrel of that product too once it comes of age.
After the tour we went back to the tasting room. We then sampled all eight barrels we pulled aside, but nowat barrel proof. This was a lot harder than we thought it would be since we had eight really great barrels to choose from. In the end though we narrowed it down to one that stood out the most. Ironically, Brett had sampled all 40 barrels when he pulled them, and marked one as his favorite. Without telling us ahead of time, the barrel we ended up choosing was also the one he independently picked as his favorite!
The barrel we chose was a 114.6 three year old rye that came from barrel number 1737. For the custom sticker we wanted to incorporate the fact that one barrel survived the craziest and most epic barrel pick we’ve ever experienced. Playing on the fact that the pick was done at Castle & Key Distillery where the barrel was also aged, we landed on “King of the Castle.” It truly lives up to its name in every aspect.
If you’re a retailer and you’d like to get your name in front of millions of bourbon enthusiasts by becoming a retailer partner, hit us up here.