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Barrel Picks

A Cut Above the Rest!

As Whiskey ages, variations in the wood, barrel toasting, and temperature swings cause every barrel to come out differently.  Most distilleries will blend between dozens to thousands of barrels to maintain the exact flavor profile that they’re known for, but occasionally a barrel comes along that is just too good to be blended.  These barrels are separated and sold as single barrels, which has become a mark of quality in the Whiskey world.  

These single barrels were selected by Ed, SavWay’s Spirits Consultant, from the best their distilleries had to offer.  They are unique, one-time offerings, and once the barrel is sold out, it’s gone forever.

Bhakta 1928 “The French Connection” Custom Blend

After Whistlepig’s founder, Raj Bhakta, left for newer ventures he quickly fell in love with two criminally unknown spirits: Calvados (An AOC Apple Brandy from Normandy) and Armagnac (Cognac’s older, more rustic cousin). Buying up all his favorite vintages, he started Bhakta to bring them to the masses. For our unique 1928 Blend “The French Connection” we were able to pick out our favorite vintages of Armagnac and XO Calvados finishes to be combined with the Rye Whiskey.

The Calvados is an XO with a 10 year minimum (but 29 year average) age that was matured in French Oak.

For our Armagnacs we chose three relatively “youthful” vintages:

1983 – fruity black pepper
1991 – Lightly sweet floral notes
1996 – full bodied with plenty of classic, earthy rancio notes

The resulting Spirit has an average age of 15 years. Expect an aroma of nuts and dark toffee covered apples with a rich palate full of dark fruit, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and clove notes.

High West Cask Collection Rum Finish

While High West has ditched true Single Barrel Picks, the new Cask Collection offerings take their place by offering fun and unique finishes at a great price (they’re just blending the barrels together to simplify their logistics). This Bourbon was finished for several months in Barbados Rum casks. It has a nose of toasted walnuts, nutmeg, and praline with increasing demerara notes the longer the Bourbon is allowed to open up in the glass. The palate has vanilla, maple and root beer notes while a burst of cardamom signals the start of a sweet molasses finish.

FEW Merlot Finished Bourbon

When FEW finished their transition to full size barrels, they also started a series of fun and experimental finishes that are finally ready to make their debut. We got a special sneak peak of their favorites, and we liked them so much that we grabbed two! Picked in collaboration with the Double Blind Whiskey Club, this Bourbon was already over 4 years old when it was put into an Oberon Merlot cask for an additional 2 ½ years. Obviously heavy on the finish, it smells like dark chocolate covered cherries, while more vanilla on the palate gives the impression of chocolates filled with dark fruit liqueur. Grippy, but not dry, wine tannin makes itself known on the finish.

FEW Vermouth Finished Bourbon

When F.E.W. finished their transition to full size barrels, they also started a series of fun and experimental finishes that are finally ready to make their debut. We got a special sneak peak of their favorites, and we liked them so much that we grabbed two! Picked in collaboration with the Double Blind Whiskey Club, this Bourbon was already over 4 years old when it was put into a Vermouth cask for an additional 2 years. Aromatic herbal top notes with an undercurrent of white grape skins, its palate has plenty of herbal red fruit along with orange peels and spices to make for an unsurprisingly Manhattan-esq pour. Seriously, just drop a cherry straight into your glencairn!

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

We finally have an Elijah Craig Barrel Proof of our very own! This barrel is 8 years old, 119.5 proof, and was bottled in its purest form: Uncut, non-chill filtered, and straight from the barrel. Expect an aroma of walnut and caramel coated green apple, a palate of spicy oak, black pepper and clove, and a long Kentucky hug for a finish.

High West Cask Collection Chardonnay Finish

While High West has ditched true Single Barrel Picks, the new Cask Collection offerings take their place by offering fun and unique finishes at a great price (they’re just blending the barrels together to simplify their logistics). This Bourbon was finished for several months in Chardonnay barrels from a winery that’s also imprisoned in Constellation’s portfolio. Not as overwhelmingly finish-forward as previous releases, the Chardonnay instead supports the Bourbon by adding a layer of rich brown butter nuttiness underneath the usual caramel, spice, and oak notes.

WhistlePig 10 Year Cask Strength Rye

Our WhistlePig Private Select is a rare cask strength (118.4 proof) version of the already fantastic WhistlePig 10 year. This particular barrel has aromas of buttery lemon curd, and a palate of minty herbal tea with plenty of honey. The finish is short and round caramel, while the classic Rye baking spices only appear at the end, gently clinging to the tongue once everything else is gone.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon

Woodford Double Oaked has three main flavor tent poles that they strive for. For our store pick, we picked one of them to highlight (Citrus & Peach), at which point Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall hand-picked and married together two of her favorite barrels which highlight those flavors. Expect an aroma of peaches with vanilla cream, and a palate of stone fruit and caramelized orange peel that finishes with a burst of oak spice.

Maker’s Mark “Black Forest Gateau”

Maker’s Mark’s Private Select program is completely unique, allowing us to choose from a selection of finishing staves that are made from a variety of oak varieties with experimental toasts. This allows us to design our own ideal Bourbon, with each batch that we release having its own novel taste profile, so try them all to find your favorite! This time around, our Private Selection (6 Makers 46, 2 French Mendiant, 2 Toasted French Spice) has a nose of creamy chocolate and vanilla with a palate of rich cocktail cherries that inspired its name: “Black Forest Gateau.”

Dettling Single Barrel Bourbon

Since Dettling showed up in IL, we’ve been astounded by the quality of their Bourbon and are proud to be among the first stores in IL to receive a Single Barrel Pick! Dettling’s unique 6 grain recipe includes rye intended for baking, as well as non-GMO corn that they grow themselves. Even their barrels are unique, being made from multi year seasoned American oak at a custom #3 char from Independent Staves. However, this particular barrel was selected to be one of only a handful that Dettling has finished in a second virgin oak barrel that was custom toasted with only a light char made to express more vanilla notes. All in all, this Bourbon spent 60 months near the top of their rickhouse while baking under the hot Alabama sun. It has an ample nose filled with notes of cherry, vanilla, and a whiff of oatmeal cookie. The palate reveals more dried cherries and vanilla, while the short and round dark chocolate/espresso finish leaves you craving another sip.

F.E.W. Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

The new Bottled-In-Bond version of FEW Bourbon is here! An upgrade to the standard FEW Bourbon, the bonded version is a minimum of 4 years old and bottled at 100 proof in accordance with the Bottled-in-Bond Act. The barrel that we selected is almost 5 years old, and has an herbal and fruity aroma with bright, sweet cinnamon notes. Oak with a tinge of strawberry ice cream dominates the palate, before melding into a sweet, tea-like finish.

Fighting 69th Irish Whiskey

A rare store pick Irish Whiskey! Fighting 69th is named after the Union’s 69th Irish Brigade, the origin of the term “The Fighting Irish.” A different blend of finishes than the standard offering, this Private Selection is 4-6 year Whiskey aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, Ruby Port barriques, and Sherry casks. It has a nose of apple and pear and tastes of almond cookies with frosting. The finish is smooth and sweet. Fighting 69th donates a dollar from each bottle sold to the Sixty-Ninth Infantry Regiment Historical Trust, which provides assistance to unit members, veterans, and their families.

Knob Creek Bourbon – Spring 2023

Knob Creek continues to knock it out of the park with their seemingly endless supply of fantastic single barrels. At nearly ten years old, this pick was aged on the rickhouse’s middle floor near the wall, where it experienced broad temperature swings. The notes include an abundance of the classic dry oak and rye spice that Knob Creek is known for (especially at 120 proof), but it doesn’t finish so much as it sticks to the tongue; allowing the rye spice and oak notes to rapidly build until it achieves a “Pop Rocks” like tingling on the palate.

New Riff Bourbon

We are absolutely delighted to offer our first store pick of New Riff Bourbon! One of the hottest new distilleries in KY, New Riff is dedicated to quality and all of their Whiskies are produced under the rules of the Bottled in Bond act. Our single barrel would qualify as Bottled in Bond had it been bottled at the prescribed 100 proof instead of cask strength. This barrel has an oak forward aroma with a hint of lavender, chocolate and butterscotch on the palate, and a lasting orange zest finish. Perfect for cozying up to the fire!

Coppercraft Bourbon

you might not be familiar with Coppercraft, but you likely know their high end brand: Joseph Magnus. This NINE YEAR OLD Bourbon was sourced from MGP, and was originally meant to be blended into one of the Magnus Bourbons. Yet as it matured 3 years early, it was quickly singled out for their barrel program instead. Bottled at a very low cask strength of 105 proof, it has all of the richness of a barrel strength Bourbon, but with none of the heat. Nutty butterscotch aroma, dark caramel and cherry on the palate, with a pecan finish.

Stellum LEO Bourbon

A newer brand by Barrell Spirits, Stellum has been making a name for itself with their fantastic Bourbon and Rye. This single barrel pick is 5 years old with a mash bill of 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley. It has a nose of caramel and maple, with dry, nutty oak and rye spice on the palate.

Copper & Cask Double Barrel Rye

The only Copper and Cask Rye to hit Illinois in this round of picks, it is a unique Double Barrel. While the recipe may be the standard 95-5 that MGP is famous for, the profile is anything but. This Whiskey spent 6 years on the coveted top floor of MGP, but at some point it was rebarreled. While MGP won’t divulge details as to why, the infusion of fresh oak was transformative. The minty, green apple aroma contrasts with notes of sandalwood, incense, and cigar box on the palate. A great Rye to sip, pick apart, and ponder over.

Copper & Cask Toasted Barrel Bourbon

Every so often Copper & Cask releases some fun experiments, and we have snagged one of their rare toasted barrels! This Bourbon (60% Corn,36% Rye, 4% Malted Barley) was distilled in Indiana, aged in Kentucky for 5 years and 10 months, and then finished for 8 weeks in a 59 gallon virgin toasted oak barrel from Independent Staves that’s usually reserved for wine making. The Bourbon retains the bing cherry notes that our C&C picks have become known for, while the toasted barrel comes through with an aroma of cherrywood and woodsy cinnamon stick. The finish is mild and dry clove and allspice notes.

Copper & Cask Bourbon #2

Copper & Cask is dedicated exclusively to sourcing great single barrels of Whiskey for store picks. Since our first barrel from Copper & Cask was such a smash hit, we couldn’t help but get another! At 5 years old (70% Corn, 21% Rye, 9% Malted Barley), it’s a year younger than our first barrel and has aromas of caramel and cocoa, carrying a palate of oaky cherry with a spicy rye finish.

Savage & Cooke Zinfandel Finished Bourbon

Savage & Cooke is the brainchild of Dave Phinney, the man who created The Prisoner as well as countless other famous wines. This barrel pick started when Phinney decided to throw his weight around the industry to acquire the best Bourbons that money could buy (as well as some that it couldn’t). Ed, the SavWay Spirits Buyer, picked from these barrels one that is truly viscous, and oozing with rye spice. It was then transferred into one of Phinney’s Zinfandel casks to add an aroma of dark, jammy fruit along with a touch of herbal spice to complement the peppercorn and clove notes. The finish coats and tingles the tongue, making it a high-rye Bourbon lover’s dream.

Untitled Calvados Finished Bourbon

1/8th Distilling (out of Washington, D.C.) has made a name for themselves by sourcing excellent, highly aged Bourbons and then artfully applying unique finishes. This 11 year old Wheated Bourbon spent two of its years in French Oak Calvados Barrels (the apple version of Cognac). At 120.6 proof, it is unabashedly cask strength, which concentrates its dark fruit flavors. Heavy and rich, it tastes like blackberry pie with a tart apple glaze. It recently found it’s way into “Power of Bourbon’s” Best Whiskey of 2022 competition where it won first place in a blind tasting, beating out the likes of Blood Oath 8th, 2X0, Barrell Dovetail, and Bardstown Fercullen.

Codigo Tequila Añejo

This unique barrel of Codigo Añejo started as a French Oak barrel that was made by cooper Tonnellerie Sylvain, famous for supplying wineries such as Harlan Estates and Screaming Eagle. After being used to age a prestigious Napa “Bordeaux,” the wine was decanted and replaced with Codigo’s Tequila. The wine stained wood spent 18 months working its magic before the Añejo was declared too exquisite to be part of the usual blend. Our pick is not as assertive as the standard Codigo Añejo, but offers a gentle complexity with ever changing notes of agave drizzled strawberries and cherries.

Bulleit Bourbon

Bulleit’s Single Barrel Select program takes its cues from Four Roses, with multiple mash bills and yeast types to choose from. This leads to a far greater variety of Whiskies than most single barrel picks, with unique aromas and flavors. This particular barrel is fruit forward and bursting with aromas of orange peel, caramel and chocolate-covered cherries. Its palate lingers with notes of marmalade, bananas, and strawberries.