It wasn’t until Prohibition that American whiskey was commonly sold in bottles. Before that, when a saloon or bar bought whiskey, they purchased a certain number of barrels. Bottles were expensive, and it was common practice for the patron to bring their own bottles to be filled by the barkeep from his barrels of whiskey. When bottling became affordable and mechanized, the idea that a single barrel of whiskey could stand on its own eventually died out completely. In 1984, Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee began selecting superior barrels of whiskey and bottling it one barrel at a time. Under Elmer T’s watchful eye, Blanton’s, the first single barrel of bourbon since Prohibition, was born.
Eight Row Flint continues this single barrel tradition by traveling to distilleries, visiting the rickhouses where the bourbon rests, and tasting these whiskeys straight from the barrel. When we discover whiskey that we cannot live without — just like Elmer T. was searching for over 25 years ago — we buy up the whole barrel.
The following bourbons were selected by Morgan Weber and are available only at Eight Row Flint.
Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Kentucky 90° 12
Aged 11 years, 3 months at the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky from Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill Number 1.
This high-rye bourbon is easily one of the best single barrel expressions of Eagle Rare that we have ever tasted. Seriously. The nose is super-enticing, in a grandpa’s cheap pipe tobacco and worn-in leather chair sort of way. It’s bourbon, so of course the vanilla and butterscotch game is strong, but it is an extremely well-balanced example of what makes bourbon amazing. It finishes long and soft, rounding out with a not-so-subtle maple syrup sweetness—Grade B-style. At 90 proof, this one is great neat or with a splash of water...or however you want it. Go back and smell that empty glass. Yeah, it’s all Madeira and Episcopalian fruit cake.
Whistlepig 10 Year Rye, Whistlepig Farm, Shoreham, Vermont 118.2°
At 11 years of age and cask strength, this is the style of rye that put hair on your grandpa’s chest. One of the things we love about Whistlepig is that it is as unapologetically “rye” as rye can be. It’s a bold, slap-you-around-to-make-sure-you’re-still-paying-attention rye. More importantly, it’s the style of rye that our whiskey-drinking culture was built on--that which would have been found in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New England in the 1800s. Most Kentucky rye has a lot of corn in the mashbill to help take the edges off rye’s inherent brute mentality. Not this, though. Time in the barrel mellows this old man out. This is one of the best single barrels of anything that has come through our doors.
Woodford Reserve, Eight Row Proprietary Blend 90°
This one is like stepping on a lego, barefoot, in the middle of the night on the way to the restroom. Aged approximately 6 years, this is our anti-bourbon bourbon. Iodine and medicinal herbs--.the kind that people used to think would cure them, but really wouldn’t. Dried peaches, rusty paint cans and pecan pralines (New Orleans-style, not Mexican-style). On the finish, it’s all Werther’s Original. The last thing it does is the best thing it does. This is the bourbon that asks a lot. You have to go to this bourbon, it doesn’t come to you.
Jefferson’s Reserve, Very Old, Very Small Batch, Louisville, Kentucky 90°
On the nose, this bourbon is that red box of yellow Golden Maid raisins, wet river rocks, green hay and freshly turned garden soil. The palate, though, is a beautiful example of what we’ve come to expect from high quality, modern bourbon. As it finishes, the yellow golden raisin-thing changes into a Thai pickled plum situation. The dried fruit is amazingly persistent—grapes specifically, making this the most cognac-nuanced bourbon of all our house barrels. Tie this one up, put a bow on it, and call it a day.
Knob Creek Single Barrel, Jim Beam Distillery 120°
Aged 10 years, 5 months. On the nose, this one is Christmas trees and magical f*cking reindeer. Low-grade milk chocolate—the American stuff; juniper berries and pink peppercorns. It’s got amazingly high minerality: crushed granite and limestone. The palate is more reminiscent of antique bourbon: Absinthe-style licorice, eucalyptus and spearmint. At 120 proof, it will put hair on your chest. There is no doubt that this one needs some water as it is not a slight bourbon. Persistent charred oak, chile pequin and a great citrus-thing happening with lemon and grapefruit, which certainly softens the edges. This is your grandpa’s bourbon—maybe even his grandpa’s bourbon. In spite of it’s powerful nature, it has a lot of nuance. Take some time in between sips.
Eight Row Flint: Proprietary Barrels Hand-Selected by Morgan Weber
Knob Creek, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Jefferson’s Reserve, Very Old, Very Small Batch
Buffalo Trace, E.H. Taylor Small Batch, Eagle Rare 10yr
“It’s All About The Barrel” Flight: Follow this whiskey on its path from white corn whiskey into 10-year-old bourbon. All three of these whiskeys use the same traditional bourbon mash bill of mostly corn, finished with some rye and malted barley. Here, we see how the exact same mashbill (recipe) can taste so drastically different, based on where and how long it is aged.
Rittenhouse Rye 100, Whistle Pig 10yr, Woodford Rye
The Rye Flight: Rye whiskey was the prevalent whiskey of the northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania and Maryland, but largely disappeared after Prohibition. In the United States, “rye whiskey” is, by law, made from a mash of at least 51 percent rye.
High West Yippee Kai Yay, Belle Meade 9yr Sherry Finish, Whistle Pig Old World Sauterne and Port Finish
The Well-Seasoned Whiskey Flight: Finishing whiskey in barrels that originally housed another spirit is not a new concept. These three selections derive so much of their flavor from their respective barrel finishes: rye in Vermouth and French oak casks, bourbon in Sherry butts, and finally a bourbon in Chinato Vermouth barrels.
Laphroig 10 yr, High West Campfire, Balcone’s Brimstone
Where There's Smoke Flight: For generations, Scottish whisky makers have used peat smoke to dry their barley malt and impart a distinct flavor profile. New craft distilleries in the states have taken this whiskey making tradition to another level by using not only peat but different wood smokes to create big, bold, but still balanced whiskey.