Love Whiskey? Why Not Buy A Whole Barrel?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried a lot of whiskeys in your life. Have you ever come across a whiskey that you immediately know you’ll be buying bottle after bottle? I believe in love at first sight. This is as true about whiskey as it is about your wife or husband.
You’re probably incredibly tired of visiting your local liquor store and purchasing a 750ml bottle of your favorite whiskey every other week. If only there was a way to always have a bottle on hand. Lucky for you, there is a way to make this dream a reality. You can do this by buying a whole barrel of whiskey.
Also: More Whiskey
The one catch is that it’s a bit pricey to buy a whole barrel of whiskey. Depending on the distillery, it can set you back anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 dollars. But, if you can ante up this kind of cash, you’ll be rewarded with around two-hundred or so bottles of tasty, sweet booze.
Distilleries with “Buy Your Own Barrel” programs include: Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Russell’s Reserve, Garrison Brothers, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s and High West.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s By the Barrel program is a way for our the discriminating customers to experience purchasing a hand-selected barrel of the richest and most intensely flavored Jack Daniel’s available. “Interested folks are invited to the distillery for a personal tasting, where they can sample our whiskey until they find the barrel that’s right for them,” says Jack Daniel’s Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. “If they can’t visit us in person, we ask them about their taste preferences and then I or my boss, Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, picks out the barrel for them.”
Once they know someone is interested and the order is initiated, they either come on a VIP distillery visit, or Fletcher and Arnett choose a few samples to send to them. “Once they’ve selected their favorite sample/barrel, the whiskey from the barrel is hand-bottled in 750 mL glass decanter bottles.” Each decanter will have the individual barrel number, the rick from which it was taken in the barrel house and the date the whiskey was bottled. A medallion, personalized for each customer, is put around the neck of each bottle. “Then, the actual barrel and all of the bottles are shipped to the customer’s local liquor store,” says Fletcher. The program costs between $10,000 and $13,000, depending on the barrel’s yield and local taxes.
The yield is roughly two-hundred and forty bottles. Some yields are a little more and some are a little less depending on the “angels share”. “The number is approximate because no two barrels produce the exact same amount of whiskey (just like no two barrels produce exactly the same flavor).”
The By the Barrel program is a unique experience that makes for great storytelling. “We work with individuals to select the right barrel for them, regardless of whether they’re able to come visit the distillery.” Because the whiskey bottled is sourced only from the barrel the customer chooses, they’re able to say that their barrel of whiskey is truly like no other. “One other neat aspect of the program is that customers who buy a barrel are honored with a personalized brass brick that is displayed forever in the building where Single Barrel is bottled at the distillery.”
Woodford Reserve’s parent company, Brown-Forman, is the only spirits company in the industry that owns its own Cooperage. “The Cooperage is able to create barrels especially for Woodford Reserve and other brands owned by the company, thereby allowing complete control over the wood and how it impacts the flavor of Woodford Reserve,” says Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. “True experts with barrel-making and the impact of the wood.”
You can purchase whiskey aged in these truly special barrels at your local liquor store. But, why not just buy one of the barrels? Woodford Reserve’s Distiller’s Select Personal Selection Program was first introduced in 2004.
In this program, guests are invited to visit the distillery and select the barrel they want. Six samples are taken from the barrels and tasted. They then select two samples which are then combined to create a “unique, personal liquid”. You’ll receive 180 liters of whiskey for the price of only $10,000 dollars.
This isn’t the only barrel program at Woodford Reserve. If they crave something slightly higher end, guests can partake in the Double Oaked Single Barrel Program for $15,000 dollars.
The flask shape of the Woodford Reserve bottle was inspired by bourbon bottles from the late 1800s when that shape was fairly common. “Eventually the industry moved to round or square bottles, both of which are lighter in weight and less expensive to produce,” says Morris. “We preferred the historic, authentic appearance of the flask shape.”
Texas-based Garrison Brothers has made a habit of winning awards for its bourbon. If you are willing to shell out $5,000 to $8,000 dollars, you can buy a whole barrel of their award-winning juice. The whiskey in the barrel is their flagship, aged 3-5 years. It’s made of 74% #1 food grade organic corn from the Texas Panhandle, 15% soft red winter wheat as well as 11% malted barley from Canada.
Each barrel yields between forty and eight bottles depending on the “angel’s share”. Each and every bottle is labeled “Hand Crafted for YOU (your name)” along with their signature Texas star. Along with the bottles, they even ship you the empty barrel. You can do whatever you want with it, but I’d suggest making it into a table for your man-cave.
Dan Garrison invited guests to visit the distillery in Hye, Texas and sample all the barrels they want to in order to pick their favorite. If they can’t make it to the distillery, they can ship samples to you.