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What is a barrel select program?
A barrel select program is essentially buying a barrel of bourbon or other barrel aged spirit. Distilleries have entire rackhouses filled to the brim with casks of aging spirits, and a barrel program presents the opportunity to have an entire cask bottled just for you.
Because they offer a way to stamp your name on a signature flavor of single barrel whiskey or bourbon, barrel select programs have become a favorite of rare whiskey collectors and cocktail lounges. It’s every brown-spirit-lover’s dream. And now, we’re bringing that exclusive experience straight to your home bar with our Spirit Hub Selects.
Spirit Hub Select is our answer to private barrel programs. Handmade at craft distilleries across the country, our craft spirit experts worked with the distillers to hand-select and bottle these limited edition spirits. Spirit Hub Selects represent the very best expressions of single barrel whiskey, bourbon , and rum the craft spirit community has to offer.
What’s the difference between Single Barrel Bourbon and Straight Bourbon?
From “wheated” to “high-rye,” there are plenty of distinctions that go on a bottle of bourbon. Each additional moniker is meant to give some clarification to the process and ingredients that have gone into that bottle.
When a bourbon is labeled as a straight bourbon, it means that the bottle has met all the legal definitions for bourbon and, on top of all those specifications, it has been aged a minimum of two years. The words “a minimum” are the kicker here. A bottle of straight bourbon whiskey can be a blend of a number of different barrels, so the phrase “a minimum” suggests that the bottle is a blend of barrels of varying ages.
That would never be the case with a single barrel bourbon – or whiskey and rum, for that matter. When a spirit has the single barrel stamp on it, you can be sure that the bourbon, whiskey, rum inside that bottle came from one barrel and one barrel only. Each batch of a single barrel bourbon or whiskey will differ from the next because each individual cask brings its own nuance to the tumbler.
Is there a difference between Single Barrel and Small Batch Bourbon?
Unlike the designation between spirit styles, like straight bourbon vs. high-rye bourbon, it’s harder to pin down an actual definition for “small batch spirits.” But much like those style designations, it is generally a reference to how the spirit is made.
When it comes to most distilleries, calling a bourbon or whiskey “small batch” means that the barrels used to create that spirit have been carefully selected to create a robust blend. In contrast to “single barrel,” a small batch spirit can be a blended batch, where a distillery blends together multiple barrels into the final product. This approach tries to match flavor and taste between barrels, but can sacrifice the possible nuance of flavor between the individual casks.
Even when it is labelled a small batch whiskey, the product inside that bottle is likely still blended. A single barrel whiskey is anything but blended. As described above, an aged spirit only earns the title “single barrel” if it comes from just one barrel.
Batch to batch, barrel to barrel, flavors fluctuate. That’s why many distilleries opt for the small-batch method. To create a cohesive flavor that imbibers recognize and appreciate. But when a distiller draws their spirit from just one barrel of bourbon, or rum, or whiskey, it allows a specific set of flavors to shine.
Are Single Barrel Whiskey and Bourbons Better?
To put it plainly, yes.
Single barrel whiskeys and bourbons offer a better, more flavorful sip. And that’s not to knock the other bottles out there stocking shelves at local liquor stores. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of fantastic blended whiskeys and bourbons out there (and in here). But single barrel expressions offer a deeper, richer experience that showcases the spirit’s authentic flavors.
Whiskeys and bourbons are often blended to create a recognizable flavor profile between batches. But single barrel whiskeys and bourbons allow the fluctuations between batches to shine, giving rise to limited edition flavors that you need to experience before they’re gone.