The Distinctive Charm of Single-Barrel Bourbon
Are you interested in trying bourbon? Are you confused by the different styles and terminology? Not sure where to begin? Once you learn the intricate details of this delicious American spirit, bourbon tasting does not have to be intimidating.
This guide will help give you a basic understanding of bourbon and what makes single-barrel bourbon stand out.
What makes bourbon, bourbon?
You may have heard the phrase, “All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.” Whiskey, a more general category, contains many spirits, such as scotch and rye whiskey. Bourbon is a niche category.
So what makes bourbon an individual category? There are five distinctions to be called bourbon:
- Produced in the United States (approximately 95% is made in Kentucky)
- Consist of a grain mixture of at least 51% corn, though most are closer to 70% corn
- Distilled at no more than 160 proof, or 80% ABV, be stored at no more than 125 proof (62.5% ABV), and bottle at least 80 proof (40% ABV)
- Aged for at least two years in a new, charred white oak barrel
- Cannot contain any added coloring or flavors except water
What’s with the different bourbon types?
To print the word “bourbon” on a label, it must comply with the above rules. However, our partial terminology list helps you identify what you can find on bourbon bottles while you shop at A & M Beverage.
- Straight Bourbon. A bourbon that meets all the above standards and has aged for at least two years.
- Kentucky Straight Bourbon. A subset of straight bourbon, this spirit is made in Kentucky and must have spent at least one of its two years of aging in Kentucky.
- Small Batch. A small batch of bourbon is made by mixing the contents from 10-15 barrels, occasionally up to 200; it is produced on a smaller scale. Although it doesn’t have a legal definition, it was coined by the industry to reflect bourbon’s more complex and curated nature.
- Single-Barrel. Single-barrel bourbon is produced in the same way as standard bourbon. However, as the name suggests, single-barrel bourbon is distilled in one barrel throughout the aging process. However, the key differences can dramatically impact the final product’s flavor. Traditional bourbons are made from a mixture of whiskeys from several barrels. Single-barrel whiskeys, however, spend their entire lives in one barrel.
Why is single-barrel bourbon special?
While it has a similar production, aging, and barreling process to standard bourbon, the critical differences of single-barrel bourbon dramatically affect the flavor profile in the finished product. Since it only ages in one barrel, unique and enhanced flavor profiles can develop in a single barrel, as well as uniformity of color and taste.
Contrary to popular belief, single-barrel spirits produce fewer bottles than their small-batch counterpart. The maturing process also results in deeper colors and more rustic flavors.
Single barrel bourbons are highly sought after by experienced bourbon drinkers for their unique and varying flavor profiles, barrel to barrel. As a result, this type of bourbon often commands higher price tags and more admiration from whiskey connoisseurs.
Now you know the basics of bourbon, it’s time for you to have a go at tasting on your own. You can purchase various bourbons – single-barrel and otherwise – at A & M Beverage.
Your Local Beverage Experts
Conveniently located in Grovetown, A & M Beverage is a friendly, knowledgeable liquor store serving Columbia County, Georgia residents. We not only carry all your beverage staples but also offer a wide variety of regional craft beers, exceptional wine, and premium liquors, including single-barrel bourbon. And if you don’t see something on our shelves that you would like, we can special order it.
Enjoy warehouse prices without the warehouse experience – stop by our store today!