For the American Oak Barrel Purist
To qualify as a bourbon, a whiskey must be aged in 100 percent charred, new American oak casks. Today, many craft American distillers are aging or finishing their whiskies in ex-rum, wine or sherry casks. Most bourbon purists would argue that it’s best to stick to tradition. If you want a bourbon that truly showcases that new American oak, try these bottles.
Aged in American oak casks for 10 years, this Brooklyn distillery’s bourbon is dank and delicious. After aging, distillers bring the bourbon to proof with limestone-rich water from an upstate New York mine, which gives the spirit a rich, earthiness more commonly found in single malts. On the palate, it is extra spicy and tannic, with loads of black pepper and clove. As it opens up and expands, there are washes of cacao, burnt sugar, toasted rye bread and vanilla (thanks to that oak). On the finish, the pepper resurfaces and melds with a custardy-sweetness. While it may be hard to find outside of East Coast liquor stores, this bottle is worth tracking down.
This single barrel, cask-strength spirit is so damn delicious that even the snobbiest whiskey snob will bow to its greatness. This limited offering from Barrell Bourbon is distilled and aged for six years in new American oak and bottled at 114.8 proof. One sip yields intoxicating flavors of raw honeycomb, corn pudding, county fair funnel cake, pipe tobacco and fresh cherry pie. You only get the alcoholic heat at the tip of your tongue as the spirit finishes.