The Top Single Malts Aged in First-Fill Bourbon

Single malts aged in sherry casks seem to get all the attention these days. But don’t overlook these beauties all aged in first-fill ex-bourbon. No grapes here!
Nov 07, 2017
  • 10
    10 Tipperary Watershed Single Malt
    84
    Fruity & Sweet
    Launched in May 2017, this Irish Single Malt is a bottling released by the Tipperary Boutique Distillery. For each batch, six first-fill ex-bourbon barrels are chosen to be married by Malt Master Stuart Nickerson. This sourced whiskey is a non-age statement release which uses water from Ballindoney Farm in Tipperary to cut the whiskey to 47% ABV. The whiskey is non chill-filtered.
  • 9
    9 Glendalough Single Malt 13 Year
    84
    Oily
    At Glendalough Distillery, Ireland's first craft distillery, the number 13 is a lucky one; and the reason why this single malt carries that age statement. Using a mash of malted barley and locally sourced water, this whiskey is then aged in first-fill bourbon barrels for 13 years. It's bottled at 46% ABV.
  • 8
    8 Tullibardine Sovereign
    84
    Vanilla & Rich
    Tullibardine was founded in 1949 but closed its doors in 1995. It reopened in 2003, and in 2011 was bought by French wine producer Maison Michel Picard. The small distillery ages this whisky in first-fill bourbon barrels. It's the entry level expression of the distillery's recently re-launched line.
  • 7
    7 Auchentoshan American Oak
    87
    Fruity & Vanilla
    Hitting the market in May 2014, Auchentoshan American Oak, a triple distilled single malt, is aged in 1st fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels. As such, this would be an excellent stepping stone for bourbon drinkers who would like to give scotch a try. This will be a permanent bottling to the brand's line-up and will replace Auchentoshan Classic as the entry level whisky in their portfolio.
  • 6
    6 The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve
    87
    Fruity & Vanilla
    The Glenrothes typically uses both ex-bourbon, refill whisky, and ex-sherry casks for maturation of their whiskies. This bottling is their exception to the rule. Formally known as Alba Reserve, as of the end of 2015, this bottling has been re-branded as Bourbon Cask Reserve. Incidentally, it is still Certified Kosher as was their Alba Reserve bottling.
  • 5
    5 Glenmorangie Astar 2017 Edition
    88
    Fruity & Sweet
    Astar, meaning "journey" in Scots Gaelic, was originally released in 2008, but was discontinued in 2012. It has been relaunched as a limited edition release in select markets beginning in August of 2017. The journey refers to the sourcing of oak from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri. The oak staves were left to season in the open air for two years before being made into barrels which were then toasted and lightly charred. They were then filled with bourbon. After four years, the bourbon was removed and the barrels sent to Glenmorangie where they filled their single malt whisky to age (no age statement). The 2017 version is non chill-filtered and is bottled at 52.5% ABV.
  • 4
    4 The Glenlivet Nàdurra 16 Year
    89
    Spicy & Rich
    Nàdurra is Gaelic for natural. In the case of this whisky, it is referring to the fact that it is not chill-filtered and bottled at cask strength. As they release them in batches, the abv ranges from 54-58%. The barrels used for aging were only used once before for bourbon aging.
  • 3
    3 The Balvenie Single Barrel 12 Year
    89
    Fruity & Sweet
    This Speyside Scotch from Dufftown is known for growing their own barley for malting, a tradition all but lost in the Highlands now. This release is aged in first fill ex-Bourbon casks, that have been selected specifically for their sweetness and vanilla aromas. "Each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 300 hand-numbered bottles drawn from a single cask, making each bottle unique and unrepeatable."
  • 2
    2 Speyburn Arranta Casks
    90
    Vanilla & Rich
    Arranta Casks is a U.S.-exclusive from Speyburn which hit the shelves in August 2015 as a limited release. "Arranta" translates to bold or daring in Scottish Gaelic, and to match that spirit, Speyburn utilized 100% first-fill ex-bourbon casks for aging, all of which were air-dried, and hand-selected for the expression by distillery manager Robert Anderson.
  • 1
    1 The Irishman 12 Year Single Malt
    91
    Sweet & Rich
    First released in 2012, the 12 Year bottling is triple distilled and aged exclusively in 1st fill bourbon barrels. Only 6000 bottles are released annually. Bernard & Rosemary Walsh have come along way from starting a company in 1999 producing Irish Coffee and Irish Cream liqueurs to putting out quality Irish Whiskeys.