The Proof is in The Barrel
…Barrel Proof Bourbon
Barrel proof bourbon has been rising steadily in its popularity for some time now. Barrel-proof bourbon results from the aging process of bourbon within the barrel. As bourbon ages, a portion is lost every year to evaporation (The Angels Share) and because water molecules are larger than ethanol molecules, water evaporate faster leading to a concentration in both flavor and alcohol in the bourbon. Being able to taste bourbon as it would taste coming directly from the barrel is an awesome opportunity and affords you the chance to taste the rich and robust flavors that go along with it. Higher proof will of course mean slightly more heat but a well-made barrel proof bourbon won’t burn you up. Many barrel-proof expressions are released from the distilleries only a couple times a year and are highly sought after prizes for bourbon enthusiasts. Luckily, there are a few barrel-proof bourbons that are readily available year round and just waiting for you to discover them.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
A readily available barrel-proof bourbon that clocks in around 112 proof. For barrel proof bourbon, that’s actually milder than most but Wild Turkey believes in distilling and barreling at lower proofs to avoid having to add water (and thus watering down their/your bourbon) later. This is a great barrel proof bourbon for the beginner and the seasoned barrel proof drinker alike and will only set you back around $40 Rich, robust, and full of that signature Wild Turkey spice.
Named after one of the legends of the bourbon industry: Booker Noe. Booker’s is a result of Booker Noe wanting a bourbon that was readily available the way he liked to drink his bourbon: barrel proof. Even though this bourbon has become slightly more difficult to obtain and output has been lowered, it’s still accessible. Typically clocking in between 120-130 proof, Bookers will definitely warm you up, but then shouldn’t any good barrel proof bourbon? These days, Bookers will set you back around $70 but for a special pour it definitely won’t disappoint.
This offering has only been around slightly over a year now and it is a welcome addition to the family of barrel proof bourbons! Clocking in at 119 proof, Bulleit Cask Strength is the middle ground between Booker’s and Rare Breed. Rich, flavorful, and robust with some wonderful spice notes and plenty of warmth this bourbon will definitely keep you warm on cold winter nights (or cool summer ones too). At around $50, this bourbon is very approachable.
One of my favorite things to do is to taste different barrel proof bourbons next to each other. Always drink from lowest to highest proof. These three definitely give you the opportunity to do just that! Line them up and see for yourself what your palate prefers from a flavor and proof standpoint. Cheers!