Small Batch Whiskey Explained

July 10, 2021

When taking a closer look at some of your favorite whiskey bottles, you no doubt have come across the term “small batch whiskey”. At first glance you may think it means that the whiskey is made in small batches. But surprisingly, small batch whiskey doesn’t have an official legal definition in any country.

This means that one batch of small batch whiskey could be made from only two barrels or from 10,000 barrels. In reality, the whiskey brands themselves determine what small batch whiskey means to them. The words on their own don’t help the drinker understand much about the whiskey they are purchasing. Therefore, one should take this whiskey term with a grain of salt. It really is only helpful to differentiate the products the brand makes from each other.

Small Batch Whiskey Brands to Know

While the term itself isn’t consistent from brand to brand, there are many makers of small batch whiskey worth buying. Here are just a few.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

This small batch whiskey bottling is comprised of select bourbons that aged from 8-12 years. This no-age-statement product was introduced in early 2016 to replace the brand’s 12-year-old small batch bourbon. Later in the year, Heaven Hill redesigned its packaging again, with the year “1789” now embossed on the glass. Elijah Craig Small Batch remains bottled at 94 proof.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Four Roses Small Batch is a straight bourbon that is comprised of 4 of the 10 recipes that Four Roses employs. Additionally, an equal measure of both mash bills are used (60% corn, 35% rye, 5% barley and 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% barley) in the bourbon. Also, the chosen yeast strains highlight both a light and spicy profile along with a rich and fruity one. It is bottled at 45% ABV.

small batch whiskey


Knob Creek Small Batch Rye

Released in the middle of 2012, this small batch straight rye is the first from Knob Creek. The rye is “patiently aged” with a blend of  whiskeys aged for up to 9 years. It’s bottled at 100 proof.

Glenfiddich 18 Year Small Batch Reserve

Independently owned Glenfiddich was the first Scotch whisky brand to market and sell its whisky as single malt whisky back in the 1960s when blends dominated the world market. This 18-year-old expression has been aged in both oloroso sherry casks and bourbon casks.

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

This blended Irish whiskey is made with both grain and malt whisky in a 3:1 grain to malt ratio. These whiskeys are matured initially in ex-bourbon barrels before they are married and placed into Central American rum casks for up to 12 months. This rum-finished whiskey is bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration.

Uncle Nearest Small Batch Whiskey

The Uncle Nearest brand honors Nathan “Nearest” Green, a former slave who taught Jack Daniel how to distill. The 1884 Small Batch bottling is named in honor of the year it is believed that Mr. Green last filled barrels of whiskey and retired. The brand claims a minimum of 7 years for aging although there is no age stated on the bottle.

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