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Beginner’s Guide to Whiskey Barrel Ownership

Every whiskey collector has, at some point in time, fantasized about walking into a distillery, trading stories with the master distiller before sipping bourbon directly from a barrel you own. It’s the ultimate dream, right? Thanks to recent advancements in the whiskey world, fueled by an impressive brown spirit boom, putting your name on a barrel of bourbon, Scotch or rye whiskey is not only possible, it’s becoming way more accessible. Bourbon barrels are available to any whiskey enthusiast as long as you know where to buy a whiskey barrel and how to purchase it. Consider this your complete guide to whiskey barrel ownership. 

Whiskey barrel ownership grows in popularity, here’s why

If you’ve been paying attention to whiskey trends, you already know that interest in the spirit is booming. In fact, the U.S. whiskey market has been skyrocketing in the past decade, with bourbon production alone growing by more than 150 percent. And the number of craft distilleries has exploded coast to coast. Demand for American whiskey worldwide has increased too, with exports topping $1 billion starting in 2013. It’s safe to say that craft whiskey has made a residence in the U.S. and is here to stay. 

According to the recent State of the Union report released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), spirits revenue increased in 2021 by $3.8 billion. And spirits are experiencing their fastest growth in the past two decades. Throughout the past 20 years, the industry’s average annual growth was 5.5 percent compared to 7.3 percent in the past five years. 

Quality remains a determining factor as consumers seek out premium products pushing the entire industry into unprecedented expansion. And the growth extends beyond straight whiskey or bourbon, interest in custom blends remains as high as it’s ever been. Vinepair reports that although “they’ve existed for multiple decades, only in recent years have private barrel selections crossed into the mainstream and become the most sought-after products for consumers and retailers alike.” 

Why you should purchase your own whiskey barrel

So, why exactly should you decide to invest in your own bourbon barrel? Well, firstly, buying a barrel as soon as it’s distilled makes the price point much more attractive, especially as it ages and its value grows. And you have the option to hold the whiskey at the distillery while it ages and then bottle it at a future time of your choosing. Here are other reasons why a barrel investment is more popular than ever:

  • One-of-a-kind unique: Purchasing a whiskey barrel appeals to whiskey collectors because no two barrels will ever be the same. Flavors can show up in a million different ways. Each barrel is unique and one-of-a-kind which means this whiskey brings something new to collectors who feel they’ve tasted everything. 
  • Increases in value: When you purchase your barrel, that’s the least valuable it will ever be. Whiskey has to mature before it tastes like actual whiskey. As the whiskey ages and matures, it increases in value. And rarity sells. A common desire for true whiskey collectors is to sample the rarest whiskey they can get their hands on. It doesn’t get any more valuable than a barrel that no one else has access to. 
  • Cannot be duplicated: Because the whiskey barrels are stored in a secure warehouse at the distillery or through an approved third-party facility, they cannot be faked, fabricated or duplicated.  
  • It’s all yours: The whiskey barrel is a physical, tangible asset that you own. It’s an affordable way to have rare bourbon, Scotch or rye whiskey to add to your already impressive collection. You can visit, sample, trade or bottle them. At the very least, it’s a unique story to share with other whiskey enthusiasts.

As an added bonus, the purchase of whiskey barrels also helps small craft distilleries. Traditionally, distillers deal with a lag time between aging their product and selling it to consumers. Once the whiskey was fully matured the distillers would then generate revenue, but only after it’s been aging for several years. When a consumer purchases a barrel directly from the distillery, it provides necessary funds for new equipment, expansion efforts or more warehouse room to age barrels. 

How to buy a barrel of bourbon

Whiskey barrel ownership on its face isn’t complicated but given the process involves alcohol, there are some considerations you need to know. Hate to break it to you but at least in the U.S., you cannot walk into a distillery and purchase one of their barrels. We have what is known as the “three-tier system” when it comes to alcohol distribution. Legally a distillery can only sell to a distributor, who can only sell to a retailer, who can then sell it to a consumer. 

The first step to our process is to request access. From there, you’ll wait for your application to be approved before you can reserve a barrel. After receiving payment, you’ll receive an ownership certificate that provides legal documentation outlining your full barrel rights. You have the opportunity to visit your barrel for sampling but in order to comply with legal requirements, full barrels cannot be transported outside of an approved warehouse until they are bottled. If you don’t want to have your whiskey bottled, you can trade it for others you prefer or sell your collection for cash on the Barrel Global marketplace. When it comes time to bottle, we can help facilitate the design, packaging, and legally compliant shipping of the bottles. 

We’re on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors around the world to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today. 

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