Barrel Proof Bourbon PicksBy Stephanie Moreno
An American holiday deserves an American spirit, and nothing suits the occasion more perfectly than bourbon. So why not go a step further and get a little extra bang for your buck? Pick up a barrel proof bourbon and you can dilute it as you see fit. Just make sure to light those fireworks away from your glass!
Although there have been single barrel and limited edition releases from the brand in the past, this is a new small batch version, released nationwide in July 2018. Made from a blend of high-rye bourbons, there are seven barrels for each batch. They range in age from 7-11 years and each batch will range from 110-120 proof.
First released in 2013, this bourbon distilled at Heaven Hill is a 12-year version of Elijah Craig. The difference with this bottling, of course, is that it’s bottled without chill-filtration and without water added. Barrel Proof may be difficult to get your hands on, as it has been highly rated in several publications (including ours). But the hunt is worth the reward!
Maker’s Mark doesn’t put out a host of products. In fact, it didn’t add any line extensions to its portfolio until Maker’s 46 was released in 2010—57 years after the release of the brand’s first namesake bottle. Nothing fancy about this Cask Strength release. Just wheated bourbon Maker’s Mark at its heart, bottled without cutting it with water. Proofs range between 108-114 and are sold in 375ml sized bottles.
When Angel’s Envy first came to the market back in 2010, who knew finishing bourbon in port wine barrels would become such a hit? So, of course the brand followed up that success with a cask strength version back in 2013, but only 600 bottles were released. As demand has increased, so has production, with each year seeing an increase in the quantity of bottles made available. In fact, for 2017 the brand has released 10,000 bottles.
Although this is “junior” to the formidable George T. Stagg, this one still packs a hefty punch. While the elder is around 15 years of age, Junior is just a bit younger, ranging from 8-9 years. However, the proof still ranges from 125-135, depending on the batch. Even better, you can actually find this on retail shelves for year-round enjoyment.
Rare Breed recently updated its packaging, but it’s still a blend of Wild Turkey-distilled Kentucky straight bourbon. The ages range in the 6-12 year area and each batch will result in a different proof. But expect that to be in the 112-115 proof vicinity.
Probably the most known barrel proof bourbon of the bunch is Booker’s; part of the Small Batch Collection from Jim Beam. It’s named after Frederick “Booker” Noe II (1929-2004), the first master distiller to release a “straight from the cask” version to the public back in 1988. The brand releases several batches each year. The most reason version, Backyard BBQ, is named for Noe’s famous “bourbon-ques”.
Of course, we needn’t limit our bourbon selections to just Kentucky. Garrison Brothers, based in Hye, Texas, was founded in 2005 and is a true grain-to-glass distiller. The brand has put out batches of a barrel proof bourbon since 2013, dubbed Cowboy Bourbon. The latest batch consists of 3600 bottles at 137 proof. Giddy up and get yourself a bottle.