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Single Barrel Bourbon vs. Small Batch Bourbon


Single barrel or Small batch are two terms that people new to the bourbon world may find confusing, I know I did.


Let’s knock out the easy one first. The single barrel. Simply put, if you buy a bottle of single barrel, every drop of bourbon came from the exact same barrel. It’s filled from a Single Barrel. That is not to say that the distillery only made one barrel, but each barrel will have its own unique flavor.


The top 5 single barrels that we see are the Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Blanton’s Single Barrel, Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project, Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition, and the Parker’s Heritage Single Barrel 11 Year Old.


Small Batch also seems simple on the surface, but it’s a little more nuanced. For starters, it means something different at each distillery. At Four Roses, for example, the small batch comes from a mixture of 17 different barrels. At Maker’s Mark, a small batch is around 1,000 gallons or about 19 barrels. Elijah Craig, produced by Heaven Hill uses no more than 200 barrels.


Regardless of a particular distillery’s formula, the advantage is that each batch will be consistent in flavor. The top 5 small batch bourbons we see are Black Maple Hill Small Batch, Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch, Four Roses Small Batch Al Young Edition, and Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition Mirage.


We see far more single barrels than we do small batches. Values are based on the market at any given time, but we do not see evidence that one is consistently more valuable than the other. It’s more about personal preference.


Selecting a single barrel says you like a one-of-a-kind experience, one that will never be recreated exactly. Choosing a small batch says that you prefer consistency and knowing what to expect. Nothing wrong with either style in our book!

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