Spotlight on....Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Barrel Global works with exceptional distilleries to offer you the opportunity to own your own whiskey cask. Whether you're buying one for a celebration or to create an exclusive portfolio, our team can help you curate your collection.

In a new series of articles, we take a closer look at the distilleries we work with, from their location to acknowledging the awards they have received for their products.

To kick off this series, we bring you ‘Bardstown Bourbon Company.’

Location:

As you would expect, the distillery and main visitor centre are located in Kentucky, just east of Bardstown centre itself (off the Bluegrass Parkway) and approximately an hour's drive southeast of central Louisville.

The main complex is a destination on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and combines distilling/production with an exceptional culinary and beverage experience.

In 2023, the company opened the ‘Louisville Tasting Room', located in Louisville on the world-famous Whiskey Row (West Main Street). Here, you can sip cocktails, have a tasting experience, and learn more about the company.

The Range:

Bardstown has created a range of products that will certainly have something for everyone. The five main ranges are:

Origin Series: showcasing both tradition and innovation in bourbon production.

Discovery Series: demonstrating the art of blending.

Collaboration Series: exploring the process of “finishing” * bourbon in barrels that have been used for other alcoholic drinks. This range included finishing bourbon in Armagnac, cognac, stout, red wine and sherry barrels.

(*finishing is a term used when a spirit matured in one barrel, is transferred into a non-whiskey barrel to impart further flavor influence from the second barrel. The period of time for finishing can range from weeks to months and even years, depending on what the distiller/blender wishes to achieve. The percentage of time in the finishing barrel is generally much smaller than the time the liquid spent in its first barrel. Example: 4 yrs. in the first barrel, and finished for 6 months in red win barrel)

Distillery Collection: this series of bourbons is a collaborative range that includes working with the podcast “Bourbon Pursuit” and PowersCourt Distillery in Wicklow, Ireland.

Fusion Series: this exciting series highlights blending newer and older bourbons. The younger bourbons used are Bardstown products, and the older is a combination of Bardstown and specially selected guest bourbons.

(Further detailed information of all these ranges can be found on the Bardstown Bourbon Company website, which has a link at the end of this article.)

The techy section:

Grain:

5 grain silos with a storage capacity of 16,500 bushels.

3 milled grain scale bins

11 grain varieties processed on site.

Mash-bills:

The distillery has the capability to produce over 50 different mash-bills.

Cookers:

Each cooker can hold 12,500 gallons of mash-bill recipe.

Fermentation:

32 x fermenters of 13, 542 gallons each

72 hrs fermentation time

Storage:

6 x Rickhouses on site; the largest can hold up to 58,800 barrels.

Rickhouses are non-climate controlled, meaning mother nature can fully affect the barrels while in storage.

Angel’s share:

The average barrel age in storage is 4-6 years. In the first year, a 10% loss of liquid (evaporation) is expected, with a 4% loss each year thereafter.

An award-winning distillery:

Bardstown Bourbon Company is being recognised globally for its spirit.

Recent awards include:

2023 – IWSC* – Worldwide producer of the year

2023 – IWSC – Worldwide top-rated 98pts

2022 – San Fransisco World Spirits Competition – Double Gold

2021 – San Fransisco World Spirits Competition – Best of Class

(*IWSC – International Wine and Spirit Competition)

As you can see, Bardstown Bourbon Co. is making waves in the bourbon category. Their great range and ethos, "NEVER STAND STILL," certainly show us that they will continue to innovate and create great spirit.

You can take a virtual tour of the distillery by clicking on the link “Check out our 360 Distillery Tour”, which can be found on this page from the distillery website; Plan A Visit - The Bardstown Bourbon Company - A New Blend of Bourbon Makers

For further information on the distillery, please follow this link: The Bardstown Bourbon Company - A New Blend of Bourbon Makers

We are 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

American whiskey; an exciting investment?

Well, we certainly think so. Our portfolio of casks for investment is predominantly made up of American whiskey distilleries. We occasionally have casks from Scotland, but American whiskey and bourbon is where most of our available stock is from.

We have fostered great relationships with several distilleries, including Bardstown Bourbon, Dueling Grounds, and Kings County Distillery, to name just three.

So why should you be interested in American whiskey?

There could be many reasons ranging from personal to business requirements (see this blog article for more information. Interested in buying a whiskey cask... - Barrel Global ), and of course, you may be interested in an alternative way of growing personal funds.

The American bourbon industry has seen fantastic growth in the last 10 – 15 years; however, since the COVID-19 pandemic, that growth has slowed. Supply chain issues affected many, and of course, outlets selling whiskies and bourbons were also significantly affected by the pandemic. People were unable to spend money in venues, which led to some having to close down; and while there may have felt like a bit of a whiskey revolution happened between 2019 and 2023 with more people taking part in online tastings and spending a little more having spirits delivered to homes, it was just a temporary situation.

The industry continues to rebound from global inflation and the pandemic. In 2022 – 2023 the sales of nine-litre cases increased to 55.6m (up 4.5%), yet projections for 2024 are showing an increase of sub-4 % to 57.8m. With a lot of global financial recovery and potential tariffs on exporting whiskey stock to the EU (possible tariff of 50%!), growth will continue to be slower than it has been.

Of course! Even with this slowing in growth, those within the industry are positive about the future. There is a recognition that whiskey is reaching a wider audience globally, and American whiskey can take advantage of this. Susan Wahl, Vice President Heaven Hill, recognizes this and says, "If American whiskey can take some of that market share, then we have an opportunity to even more rapidly expand production and reach.

There is also a second potential problem heading towards the bourbon industry, and that is a barrel shortage. With the number of distilleries growing in the United States, so does the need for new white oak to store the spirit. With a shortage of oak on the horizon, some distilleries may turn to making single malt whiskey, which is subject to different barrel regulations than bourbon, which is legally required to be stored in new oak barrels. It could also lead to changing legislation around making and storing whiskey to accommodate this shortage.

While these issues may seem problematic at first glance, it also means the industry will look at opportunities to innovate and stretch itself. The "Ready to Drink “(RTD) drinks market is taking off. Grabbing some ready-mixed whiskey/bourbon cocktails or spirit and mixer drinks off the shelf for a picnic may be a convenient option for some. Leading the way on this is Jack Daniels, who is working with Coca-Cola. By being innovators and looking for ways to reach a wider audience, Jack Daniels, along with Heaven Hill and Jim Beam, is also releasing more premium level products to the market, with a nod to those who prefer an older age statemented whiskey.

Today's bourbon consumers are no longer happy with just drinking. They are curious about the process; they are more knowledgeable about how whiskey and bourbon are produced. They care about a company's impact on the environment, and they care about image. If distilleries can tap into this consumer, the prospects for the industry are wide-ranging and positive.

An example of this recognition of change is evident from brands like Bardstown Bourbon Company. In October 2023, the company announced a new venture – Whiskey House of Kentucky- a US $350 million distillery designed to provide large-scale, flexible contract distilling. David Mandell, CEO, says, “Despite the short-term slowdown following the pandemic, the American whiskey market’s fundamentals are strong […] (we) see tremendous room for innovation and growth.”

A report from "The Spirits Business" recognizes Bardstown Bourbon Company as one to watch in 2024. Along with many other brands, we are pleased to collaborate with them. Not only is Bardstown doing great work with contract distilling, but they also offer blending, cask-finishing, and their own line of whiskeys.

So, while there is a temporary slowing down in the growth of the market, it is plain to see that companies are reacting positively by pivoting their products to adapt to the changing market. We see these as exciting times and an excellent point to become involved in the whiskey/bourbon industry.

We are 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Dry January...

You likely didn't expect a blog by a whiskey company to write about Dry January. But we have a responsibility to talk about drinking responsibly, as does every alcohol company. We all see those little "Drink Responsibly" signs in adverts, but how much notice do we take? How often do we look at our drinking habits and determine whether they are healthy?

What is “Dry January”?

Dry January is a campaign originating in the United Kingdom run by Alcohol Change UK, founded in 1984. Known initially as Alcohol Concern, in 2007, the charity joined another 24 charity and health interest organizations and became the Alcohol Health Alliance UK. The name was then changed to its current form in 2018. The first Dry January occurred in 2013, with 4000 people registering an interest. In 2023, 9 million noted they were going to try abstaining from alcohol for the month. The campaign is now licensed in other countries, including France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and the USA, officially joining in 2023.

As a point of interest, in Finland, the government launched Sober January in 1942 as part of the country's war effort against the Soviet Union.

The simplest explanation of Dry January is this: you choose not to consume any alcohol in January. It sounds pretty simple when written down like that. But taking part will highlight your drinking habits. Noting down when you reach for a drink could help you look at whether you have a healthy relationship with alcohol or not. Are you a social drinker, or do you ‘always’ have a drink as soon as you come home from work? Do certain situations trigger a ‘need’ for a drink? What time of day are you drinking? Are you being honest with yourself about all of this?

What are the benefits of taking part in Dry January?

The most obvious will be related to your health. Studies have shown that alcohol can negatively affect sleep. Within one week, you will likely find yourself sleeping better.

Your skin/complexion will improve. Alcohol is a diuretic (always wonder why you need to pee extra when you’ve been drinking???). Your skin will become more hydrated and healthier when you consume less alcohol.

The liver, like skin, is one of our biggest detox tools, always working hard to process what we consume and move unwanted elements from our bodies. Like skin, the liver can also regenerate itself, so giving it a break from dealing with alcohol for a month will help with its repair and working on other unwanted elements in our bodies.

Your blood pressure may improve. Heavy drinking is related to high blood pressure, and even one month of abstinence will give your body a rest and help improve your blood pressure levels.

Weight loss!! Most of us see this as a benefit. Alcohol has sugars, starches, and, of course, calories. When we drink, our food-based decision-making also takes a hit. Come on, nothing is better than a bucket of crispy, greasy chicken after a few beers. By abstaining, we could also make better food decisions, which will impact our calorie intake overall.

These are only some benefits; everyone will have different responses and priorities as to why they may want to participate.

Who can I do Dry January with?

Some people are great at going it alone; others may want a support buddy to check in with and discuss how it's going. You can share strategies and tips. Meharry Research is licensed to bring Dry January to Americans in the United States. The link below will take you to the Meharry page about Dry January, where you can find links to apps to help you.

Dry January USA | Meharry Research

Will I miss alcohol?

While doing Dry January, you should continue supporting your local bars and pubs. Many support Dry January anyway and will have deals to keep you coming in. The world of Low and No alcoholic beverages is growing and getting much better. For many of us, drinking is part of socializing; Dry January isn't about locking yourself away from society to get through it. It can be about supporting each other and challenging yourself to only sometimes have a drink in every social situation.

Things to be aware of and when to seek professional help.

Dry January is a great way to start the new year for most people. Feeling energized and refreshed, saving money, and losing weight are positive ways to embrace winter/spring and hit some resolutions. But not everyone is in this position; some people may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and Dry January may feel like an excellent opportunity to address this relationship. However, alcohol detox for heavy drinkers, can be difficult. Withdrawal from alcohol can be painful and dangerous. If you are in a position where you recognize that you need help with your relationship with alcohol, please consult a medical professional so they can guide you and safely help you.

Lastly, if you participate in Dry January, we hope you will complete it with a sense of achievement and feel healthier going into 2024. You may already know that certain alcoholic beverages are healthier than others. For example, a standard beer (one pint) can have up to 222 calories (5%abv), and a 175mil glass of wine (12%) can have up to 158 calories. The good news is that whiskey at 40% per 25ml has approx. 100 cals. So, choose your alcohol wisely!

We are 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Top Ten Best American Whiskies 2023

What makes a top ten whiskey or bourbon? Is it sales? Is it awards? Is it influencers talking about it? To see us out of 2023 and into 2024, we have collated a selection of articles to answer that question. These are taken from online magazines and sites dedicated to spirits, including whiskies.

When looking for a “top ten” whiskey, remember the following: some are based on one person’s opinion; some are based on a group of people; some may be awarded; some are "influenced," and of course, we have sales. You may be surprised when we look at the world's most consumed whiskies. Whiskey is consumed globally, and different countries drink whiskey in different ways, so while you may think a particular brand is not so special, 20 million people somewhere else love to mix it into a highball and sip on it by a pool all day. The drams in this category are considered easy-drinking blended whiskies or bourbons.

When looking through all these articles, it may be worth noting the whiskies or distillery that comes up regularly. If several industry-related sites and people mention it, it may be good enough for a place in your top ten.

So, we looked at the Brand Champions 2023 report from The Spirits Business. This report looks at all spirits and their performance over the previous year. This year, they have noted that the Korean soju brand Jinro is their supreme brand champion winner. Korean culture is massive worldwide, from K-Pop to Squid Game; the ripple effect will include food and drink. So, it’s unsurprising that a non-whiskey spirit is doing so well.

But back to whiskey. In the world whiskey category under US whiskies, the report shows Jim Beam as the highest-selling whiskey; next is Jack Daniels, with Woodford Reserve at number 9 (there isn’t a ten). However, the best performing for growth is Woodford Reserve, with an increase of 33.3% in sales in 2021 - 2022. While the US is its biggest market, the UK buys the most internationally. Big companies like Beam Suntory and Brown Forman own these brands. You will find them easily in supermarkets and are easy to find in most bars. But are they the best? Having a large company behind a brand means easier access to customers on a larger scale. Small independent distilleries need help getting into large-scale sale opportunities, and really, would they want to?

Looking at the top 150 spirits brands overall positions, you will find that the first entry for whiskey as a category is McDowells Whiskey, a brand from India. American whiskey comes in at position 14 (Jim Beam) and 15 (Jack Daniels).

Link to the full Brand Champions report here:

 The Brand Champions 2023 - The Spirits Business

Next up, we look at an online lifestyle magazine article. In July 2023, Zach Johnston released an article in UPROXX with his top 50 American whiskies. It includes bourbons, ryes, and single malts. It also contains a great range of whiskies from style to price. Now, Michters appears four times on this list, including placement 50 and number 1. Bardstown and Barrell Dovetail make a few appearances between them as well. These are smaller brands than those noted in the sales-based report, and the notes are from someone trying them and telling you what they think.

Link to article here:

The 50 Best American Whiskeys, Ranked (uproxx.com)

Sticking with UPROXX here, we also meet Nate Gana. We have included Nate as he is more likely to be recognized as a social media influencer and an IWSC judge, so he covers a few points in this blog. Nate notes his top 8 whiskies in this article. Admittedly, not all American drams, but those that are are different from Zach's. Our point? Well, whiskey is subjective, and two articles from the same site can have different opinions.

One Of The World's Biggest Whiskey Influencers Shares His Favorite Pours Of 2023 (uproxx.com)

Next up, we will pick an Awards based ‘opinion.’ We have chosen the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition) for this. Highly recognized across the spirits industry and attracting judges from across the globe, this would be quite a safe bet for assessing a whiskey. In fact, the US category is becoming so popular that in 2024, a global whiskey-judging event will be taking place in Kentucky. Looking through the results for 2023, you will again see names like Bardstown, but Michters is missing. This does not mean they did not make the grade; they just didn’t enter the competition.

The link to the site can be found here:

IWSC 2024 tasting results | IWSC

We know we haven’t given you a top ten American whiskies, which may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but all these top tens represent an opinion from a small group of people. Some awards are paid entry; the sales spread depends on the size of a company or how a particular country or culture likes to take a dram.

The best whiskey is sometimes the one you have in your glass right now. It's the one you turn to at the end of a long day. It could be the one that holds a special memory for you. It could be the one from a barrel you own.

If that last option appeals to you, contact our team, who will be delighted to help you on the first step of this journey.

We are 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Let's talk about barrels, baby...

Well, most of us of a particular era will know the real lyrics to the song the title is playing on, but we're not here to talk about 'that.' However, we are going to talk about wood, in particular, barrels.

Whiskey, bourbon, and other spirits spend a lot of time in the dark, in wooden barrels. Those barrels taking on the flavors from the spirit and the spirit taking on flavors and color from the barrels. What a wonderful relationship.

When we talk about casks or barrels, it may sometimes be confusing what we are talking about. Casks come in many assorted sizes, in a variety of wood types, and in a range of pre-used states. Below, we will describe different casks by size and what properties they impart to spirit.

Cask size:

Casks that hold less than 200 liters:

Blood tub (50lt) and quarter cask (125lt)

Casks that hold between 200 and 400 liters:

Any hogshead (Sherry 245lt, standard 238lt), American Standard Barrel (ASB)(200lt), Bourbon (200lt), Barrique (225lt), Bordeaux (225lt), Cognac (300lt), Puncheon (320lt)

Casks that hold more than 400 liters:

Butt (500lt), Port Pipe (500lt), Madeira drum (650lt)

Note: these liter figures may fluctuate a little

Next, we can look at what kind of flavors different casks impart to spirit (we mean whiskey!)

Starting with the most relevant to this site, we will look at the American Standard Barrel and Bourbon barrel. Made from American White Oak (Latin: Quercus alba), this is the wood in which most American whiskey and bourbon start life. This oak imparts those lovely vanilla, caramel and toffee, soft, sweet notes.; and those flavors come from "monogalloyl glucose." American Oak is fast growing, meaning that it is cheaper than other wood to buy.

As you know by now, when bourbon is made, it MUST be matured in NEW oak barrels, i.e., not used for any liquids previously, and those barrels should be charred. Most barrels, once used, are sold on to other whiskey makers. Imagine all the flavor that is now in the wood. That new American barrel has now become a Bourbon barrel and distilleries across the globe will buy these barrels to mature their whisky in, taking those sweet flavors into their spirit.

The next most used barrel globally, especially in Scotland, will be the sherry hogshead. Built from European Oak (Latin: Quercus robur), these barrels, as indicated by the name, have previously been used for holding sherry. The wood has a slightly different chemical structure and includes Gallic acid, which can give a tannin effect to flavor. Of course, other flavors from sherry casks will depend on the sherry style that was in them previously but will include dark dried fruits, spiciness, nuttiness, and maybe dark chocolate. 

While ASB/bourbon and sherry casks are the main casks used in bourbon and whiskey making, we know that the boundaries of whiskey making are being pushed and a world of flavor exploration is taking place. You can find whiskies now that have been either fully matured, partially matured, or finished in a wide variety of casks, including Port, various wines (red, white, and dessert), cognac, tequila, ales, cider, and even other whiskey styles. Depending on your personal flavor preferences, you may find a dram that matches your favorite non-whiskey drink style. 

Above, we noted that whiskey/whisky may not always be from one cask type. Labelling may say what cask the spirit has matured in, i.e., Bourbon cask. Sometimes, it may say "Double Cask." The label may tell you what barrels were used, i.e., "Bourbon cask & Sherry Hogshead." But then we have "finishing." Finishing does not have a firm time-related definition. Still, it generally means that a whisky has spent most of its time in one cask and is then transferred into another for a shorter period to add an extra level of flavor. 

If the spirit spent four years in a Bourbon cask and then three years in a sherry, it is a double cask maturation. However, it would be a finish if it spent six years in a Bourbon cask and six months in an Amarone cask. 

Not all labelling is clear, so when you get the opportunity to speak with a brand ambassador or visit a distillery, you may find out more detailed information. 

Last but not least, the size of the casks will have an impact on the speed at which the wood imparts flavor. A large barrel, holding a large amount of spirit will take far longer to impart a lot of flavor, whereas a small cask, like a blood tub or quarter cask, will take less time. 

Now you know more about casks; you may find yourself more confident in wanting to become involved by owning your own. Contact our team, who will be delighted to help you on the first step of this journey.

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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Christmas Whiskey...

Well, with only a couple of weeks until the big man comes down the chimney, we thought it was a good time to talk about whiskey, Christmas, and Christmas whiskey.

Much of the food consumed in the US or UK at Christmas time is covered in the article about Thanksgiving (see below), but of course, there are additions we cannot miss, as their flavors are very much associated with "Christmas Whiskey."

Firstly, let's start with Christmas Pudding. The pudding we eat now, that lovely domed, dense, fruity, nutty, steamed, and generally full of alcohol dish we have once a year, didn’t quite start out as we now know it.

Do you recall the episode of Friends where Rachel makes a traditional trifle? The recipe book pages were stuck together, resulting in a half-savory (mince and peas) and half-sweet (jelly, custard, and cream) hybrid of a dish. Well, our lovely Christmas pudding started life in the 14th Century as something called "frumenty" and was generally a porridge mix of beef and mutton with dried fruit, wines, prunes, and spices. By the late 1500s, it had developed into "Plum pudding." After a ban instigated by the Puritans, it came back in the early 1700s, as declared by King Geoge I. Our current (excuse the pun) form of Christmas pudding is set by the Victorians and is still enjoyed today, along with the many traditions surrounding it.

The main tradition, which will always bring a hush to the dining table, followed by a "Wooooow," is when it is doused in a spirit (generally whiskey or brandy) and lit. The alcohol burns off with the beautiful blue flame, leaving the pudding with a slightly crisped outer layer. (Please be careful when you do this at home!!)

(For more Christmas Pudding history and traditions, see the links at the end of the blog).

Along with the Christmas pudding comes Christmas cake and mince pies, all with a common flavor theme running through them (and similar histories): dried and alcohol-soaked fruits, nuts, peel, and generally a brown spirit. Christmas cake comes with the addition of marzipan and icing, while the mince pies have a wonderful buttery pastry casing.

We have focussed very much on US and UK Christmas flavors here. So, what about elsewhere in the world?

In Germany, Lebkuchen is a famous Christmas cake/biscuit (depending on the bake). With base flavors of honey, spices, and, of course, some nuts. Also, Stollen which has very similar ingredients.

From Italy, we have more fruit coming in with the beautiful Panettone, and from Poland, we have poppy seed cake (makowiec)

Central America gives us Pio Quinto, which brings us cinnamon, rum, raisins, plums, and even cocoa.

Check the link at the bottom of the blog for more global Christmas cake inspiration.

Now, all these flavors really do lend themselves to whiskey!

Sherry cask influenced whiskies, so generally not American whiskies, may be the best place to start looking if you want a 'Christmas flavored’ dram. The dark fruits and raisins are regular tasting notes that could be right for you.

Yet bourbon cask whiskies, and thereby even some bourbons, may lend themselves to nutty and more sugary notes associated with icing.

So, really, what IS a Christmas whiskey?

Well, given the variety of flavors, personal taste preferences, local traditions, and clever marketing, it could be anything you choose it to be.

Some may be drawn to darker, sherry cask influenced or double cask maturation (sherry and bourbon) drams to gain all the flavors noted above. Others may be tempted by drams explicitly marketed for Christmas. Humans are easily manipulated; if it says Christmas on the bottle, we'll taste Christmas in the liquid. For the rest of us, a Christmas whiskey is the one we choose to have in our glass on Christmas day.

In fact, Christmas is an ideal time to enjoy a dram; most of us will have the time to not worry about a foggy head the next day. So many different foods surround us to pair our drams with (think chocolates and bowls of nuts that usually sit around till mid-March because using a nutcracker is too much hard work). Of course, Santa Claus may enjoy a wee nip when he visits your home to drop off the presents!

As you can see, Christmas isn't restricted to the USA and UK (though marketing may make us think it is); it's very much a worldwide celebration, meaning worldwide foods to discover and try.

Link to Thanksgiving article:

Thanksgiving, harvest and bourbon... - Barrel Global

History of Christmas Pudding:

 The Tradition of the Christmas Pudding - WhyChristmas.com

Global Christmas cakes:

 The Best Christmas Cakes From Around The World (mashed.com)

If all this talk of whiskey and Christmas has given you a hankering for a dram, the best one is from your own cask, or you could gift your friends and family a bottle next Christmas. Our team will be delighted to speak with you to help get you started.

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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Whiskey Pairings, Pt2.

Our previous post about pairing whiskey and bourbon focused on food and drink, but whiskey is about more than just pleasing our palates.

How often have you nosed a dram and been transported back to another place and time? You may associate a single brand or bottle with a particular event in your life. These may be positive or negative associations; come on, we all have that one whiskey that reminds us of getting too drunk when we were younger!

Whiskey can be sipped anywhere for any reason, so let’s go through some that you may already do, or we can inspire you.

The Outdoorsy dram

If you love the outdoors, whether hiking through hills and mountains or taking walks by the sea, taking a hipflask with your favorite whiskey or bourbon is a great way to mark the end of the walk or day. Imagine sitting on the top of a hill, or after setting up camp, the land spreading below you in all 360 panoramic views. Sitting and taking in that view, resting and feeling your space in the world, accompanied by that bourbon; that is a moment that will stay with you for a long time. 

For the grittier amongst us, standing in the rain, with the wind whipping all around, watching the waves crash against the cliffs. Nothing works better than a peaty, briny coastal dram. 

It goes without saying that while dramming outdoors is a wonderful experience, do remember to dram responsibly and keep safe!!

The Cinematic dram

Now, we can look at this from a few different angles. Many films feature whiskey and bourbon (thank the Gods of paid product placement!), so why not match your dram with the film? Skyfall features the Macallan 1962. We may not all be able to drum up that dram, but a standard Macallan would suffice. 

Bourbon is seen in "Kingsman – The Golden Circle”. In fact, it plays quite a large role in the film. You can check it out here:

Other films with strong whiskey scenes include The Shining (Jack Daniels), Lost in Translation (Suntory), and The Gentlemen (Glenfarclas). There are too many to list here, but you get the gist.

Next, you can watch a film about whiskey and sip on your favorite. 

The Angels Share (2012) is a film about a young Glaswegian looking to get straight but needing one final job to make the money. Thus ensues a ruse to steal a rare cask.

Whisky Galore (1949), remade in 2016, is a film based on a true story. “An isolated Scottish island is cut off from their whisky supply due to wartime rationing. But when a ship loaded with their beloved libation runs aground offshore, hijinks ensue as the islanders claim their share” (Whiskyadvocate.com)

The Musical Dram

Let's face it: music is as ingrained in our lives as food is. It is a rare human that doesn't like some kind of music. From knocking back shots in bars to seeing rock groups chugging from a bottle on stage, whiskey and bourbon are closely associated with music. As much as you choose a record to match your mood, you will likely do the same with whiskey, so pairing whisky with music logically makes sense. 

Over the past decades, several bands and musical stars have been associated with whiskey companies. From Bob Dylan and Heavens Door Whiskey to Motorhead and Mackmyra (Swedish whisky), the relationship is strong and continues to expand. You can read more about it here: Rock Star Whiskeys (ultimateclassicrock.com)

The Reading Dram

There is something quite refined and calming about sitting in your favorite chair, curled up, reading a book, adding your favorite dram to the scenario, and for some, heaven is reached.

There are many books written about whiskey; there are many books where whiskey is incidental to the story.

An example is The Peat Dead by Allan Martin. This book is a detective novel set in Scotland, so of course, many places he visits are associated with the amber nectar. Don't expect to learn much about whiskey, but you will enjoy playing "Spot the Whiskey."

The “Working” dram.

When we watch series like "Mad Men," we are reminded of a time when having a decanter full of whiskey on a cabinet was commonplace and accepted. Older police series would regularly have a police officer with a bourbon bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag in the bottom drawer of their desk. Of course, these days, consuming alcohol at work is frowned upon. 

But there are occasionally jobs where it is possible to work with a dram at hand. For some, it may be part of their writing ritual: setting up their desk, allowing their mind to relax, and see how the words flow. 

History contains many examples of where alcohol is linked to creativity, especially in literature. This long read from The Guardian examines why writers drink alcohol: Why do writers drink? | Biography books | The Guardian

Whatever you decide to pair your whiskey with, it tastes even better when it’s whiskey from your own cask. With Barrel Global, you can make that happen.
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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Thanksgiving, harvest and bourbon...

Thanksgiving,

…the start of the holiday season. Halloween has been and gone with its spooky overtones, and soon, we usher in the season of goodwill. 

This long standing American holiday is celebrated by U.S. citizens globally. People celebrate by taking part in homely family meals, large or small, giving thanks and counting blessings, and maybe volunteering to help those who don't have such ease in life.

So, where does whiskey and bourbon fit in with Thanksgiving? Well, it can be linked via the celebrating of harvests (wheat, corn, rye, and barley), the grains needed to create those fantastic spirits, to making celebratory cocktails and sipping drams at the end of a shared meal.

But first, a little history;

Native Americans had been celebrating harvest festivals long before the holiday was formally noted by the President and Congress in 1863. 

Famously, the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated harvest in 1621 with the Wampanoag tribes, and as much as this may have been considered the "first" Thanksgiving celebration, other ceremonies have been previously recorded, for example, in 1565, explorers from Spain and the Timucua tribe in St Augustine, Florida shared a meal, likely to be cocido (stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine.). 

Is this the first such Thanksgiving meal? Very unlikely. Giving thanks for harvests has been taking place worldwide for centuries. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and Romans all had such festivals, and Native American culture had a rich history of harvest celebrations long before Europeans arrived on the land.

Of course, we should widen our lens on these events. As much as they are wonderful celebrations in their own right, they are also cloaked in politics, diplomacy, and creating a peaceful way of living. Foreign settlers from Europe had arrived in land inhabited by Native Americans, and there were (and still are) periods of conflict.

Thanksgiving had been declared an observable holiday in 1789 by George Washington. It was to be held on 26th November. His proclamation is linked below. However, it never became an official holiday. Then, in 1863, President Lincoln set another proclamation for 26th November. This was off the back of a successful Union Army victory at Gettysburg.

The holiday remained on the 4th Thursday of November until President Roosevelt tried to change it for economic reasons, but in the end, it remained on the original 4th Thursday in November. The holiday was then made a federal holiday, meaning the whole United States of America observes it. More information can be found at the links below.

Now, let's get back to whiskey and bourbon!

Today's Thanksgiving celebrations have, over time, expanded and changed in line with societal changes, and many families will have their own traditions associated with it, as well as those observed nationally.

There will be turkey*, of course (except for the lucky ones pardoned by the President), served with a gamut of vegetables, potatoes, gravies, sauces, and breads. Then, for dessert, apple pie or pumpkin pie are both excellent seasonal dishes. For more ideas, see the link below.

(* for those who choose not to eat meat, of course, there are many seasonal alternatives. Stuffed pumpkin and veggie roasts are two examples. See the link below).

Of course, we have saved the best till last: that great drink that can only be made from the crops of a bountiful harvest, whiskey and bourbon. 

Where can we fit this in during Thanksgiving? Well, we think anywhere, but how about these options:

Thanksgiving cocktails are a lovely way to greet your guests and settle them in while you are putting the final touches to dinner.

A simple Thanksgiving cocktail could be a twist on the Whiskey Sour:

Directions:

Step 1: Grab a pitcher and pour in your favorite bourbon or whiskey

Step 2: Add lemon and apple cider

Step 3: Stir well to combine ingredients.

Tip: If you want it really cold, shake it with ice instead of stirring it, but remove the ice before serving so you don't have a watered-down drink.

Step 4: Add a sugary rim

(Credit to Martha Stewart via Taste of Home)

We can add a measure of bourbon to the apple pie or the pumpkin pie (don't worry, the heat from cooking will remove the alcohol but leave the flavor so children can still eat it).

Lastly, wrap your night up by pouring a dram and sitting in your living room, sharing the moment with friends and family.

The only way you can make this moment even better is by sharing your own bourbon or whiskey, which, of course, we can help you with. See the final paragraph for a link to get you started.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation | Smithsonian Institution (si.edu)

President Lincoln proclaims official Thanksgiving holiday | October 3, 1863 | HISTORY

Traditional Thanksgiving Menu with Recipes (thespruceeats.com)

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas - Vegan Richa

Barrel Global is 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today

Amazing whiskey pairings; the food & drink edition...

When we think about pairing whiskey and bourbon, our first thoughts turn to pairing them with food, which we will cover below, but we also consider pairing it with music, art, or places. We often see our favorite rock band with a particular brand of bourbon or an artist working with a brand. We can even pair whiskies with books and films. Pair it with anything that evokes your senses.

Having a lightly (or even heavily) peated whiskey while sitting on a beach with a small campfire can be quite remarkable. The sea air drying to saltiness on your lips, enhancing the flavors of the whiskey, the smell of the wisps of smoke coming from the fire as you take a sip. 

But for this issue, we will focus on food and drink pairings, from cheese and meats to coffee to chocolate.

It may sound strange to some drammers and completely normal to others. 

We are familiar with pairing wine with certain foods, and who doesn’t love a cold beer with a burger and fries? So why not start pairing your whiskey or bourbon with different foods?

Whiskey is one of those drinks where we tend to be very vocal about what flavors we are tasting, and in some cases, it really can sound quite extraordinary. Who has ever sat in a whiskey tasting and heard something like this: 

“Well, I’m getting lemon sherbet mixed with spearmints…hold on, yes, hay! Hay like in an enclosure at a zoo. Oooh, and now, crème Brulé covered in a dusting of coffee and finishing with a long drizzle of fairy dust.”

Of course, we are being a little over the top here, but it’s not far off the mark on occasion. 

Going back to pairings. Considering how many flavors we can find in bourbon and whiskey, pairing the drink with savory and sweet food makes sense, and it is great fun.

There may be some assumed "rules," but rules are there to be stretched, bent, and broken, so to go against your parents’ rules, we invite you to play with your food!

So, let’s begin with talking about whiskey and cheese. This is quite a popular combination. Cheese has a wide range of flavors, from sweet and nutty to lemony and acidic. Some may present both bitterness and creaminess together, like blue cheese, and others will even give a burn if it's old, like Rocomadour, a French goat's cheese. Try a range of whiskies with one cheese to see how they work together or a range of cheeses with one whiskey. 

Adding a selection of nuts and dried fruit to a cheese board to have with your bourbon or whiskey will give a wide range of pairings to play with.

Next, we can look at meats to go with whiskey and bourbon. Imagine the saltiness of beef jerky or prosciutto, cutting through the sweetness of your favorite bourbon. Or a nice peaty/smoky dram with some BBQ-cooked meats. You can also cook your meat with bourbon by creating a simple marinade with your favorite bourbon or whiskey. Have a little search on your preferred search engine and you will find many recipes to choose from.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Chocolate is a fairly obvious accompaniment to have with your whiskey or bourbon. Work your way through milk chocolate to the bitterness of 85% cocoa dark chocolate. Chocolate can contain many levels of flavor, and dark chocolate with a coffee and a dram can be heaven, not to mention all the other candies you can pair up with bourbon. 

But don't stop at these more common ideas. A sweet dram can work brilliantly with a bag of salted chips or popcorn. 

And lastly, we can pair whiskey/bourbon with many other liquids. The obvious ones are cocktails, but what about an “Insert country here” coffee? An Irish coffee would be the original way to have a liqueur coffee, but there is nothing to stop you from trying an "American" coffee or a "Scotch" coffee.

We can pair a dram with a beer or lager, commonly known as a "Boilermaker" or "Hauf 'n' Hauf," this is great to have at a bar.

Or we can go a little deeper; if your whiskey is matured in a particular cask for flavor, like a sherry cask (Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez (PX) being the most common), why not buy a bottle of that sherry and investigate the flavor more closely. Or if your dram has a wine cask finish, like Bordeaux or Amarone, buy a bottle and see what it tastes like. 

There is an infinite world of sensory exploration in that bottle of whiskey. Go on, take yourself on an adventure! 

Barrel Global is 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 worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today

American Whiskey, a simple drink?

It sometimes feels that American whiskey and bourbon is deemed to be the less complex of the whiskey category. We would beg to differ.

There are six main types or style of American whiskey, and these are all governed by Title 27 of the US Code of Federal Regulations.

Each type is made from a different type of cereal grain that has been fermented. The grain type and required percentage in the mashbill used to make the whiskey is strictly governed by Title 27. This means that when you see a whiskey term on a bottle, you can be sure that it meets clear guidelines and you can be sure of what you are buying.

Let’s have a look at those whiskey types and discover the 51% rule:

(* more on bourbon below)

The 51% rule guarantees that the mash is made up of a majority of one grain type.

And there are MORE rules!

To be one of the main six whiskey types, they cannot be distilled more than 160 proof (80%abv). This is the proof before going into the barrel for maturation. In doing this the whiskey flavor is deemed legally “proper”.

Next, whiskey producers are not permitted to add color or flavor additives to the whiskey. (In the UK caramel coloring is still added to some whiskies to ensure color consistency).

And lastly except for corn whiskey which does not need to be aged, they must all be aged in charred new oak containers.

Unlike Scotch whisky, for American whiskey (except for corn), there is no specified minimum aging. This means that producers have lots of opportunity to set themselves apart from other producers based on maturation times alone.

An example of this would be a straight whiskey. This is a whiskey that is no more than 80% abv (160 proof), is aged for at least 2 years and is not combined with any other spirit, color or additive. So, a rye whiskey that has been aged for 2 years can be called a “straight rye whiskey”.

Like whiskies made world over, the longer the spirit is in cask, the more the flavour will change. A whiskey/bourbon at 2 yrs. old will still be giving out the young cereal flavor of the grain it is produced from. However, that charred cask will be giving more toasty, vanilla and caramel flavors over a longer period.

Another similarity with other whisky producing countries, American whiskey should be bottled at minimum 40%abv (80 proof).

In addition to the six main types defined above, there are a few more American whiskey types, none of which have a dominant grain specification.

If a whiskey has been distilled at more than 80 %abv (160 proof) it would be referred to as a “light whiskey” and if a neutral spirit is mixed with 5% min of another whiskey, it would be a called a “spirit whiskey”.

Bourbon whiskey:

As a type of whiskey, bourbon is popular world over and many coming into the world of whisky/whiskey may find it easier to approach due to its sweetness, which comes from the 51% minimum corn grain mashbill. However, bourbon as a group has several subgroups:

Bottled in Bond: Made in US, by one distiller, at one distillery in one distilling run. Aged min 4yrs and stored in a federal bonded warehouse and/or distillery.

High Rye and wheated, Standard Bourbon Whiskey and Single batch and Single – barrel whiskey: can be produced anywhere in US. Aged min 2yrs and minimum 80 proof (40% abv)

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: must be produced in Kentucky, aged min 2 yrs., and minimum 80 proof (40% abv)

Straight bourbon, Sour-mash bourbon and blended bourbon whiskey: production in Kentucky, minimum aged 2 yrs. and minimum 80 proof (40% abv)

All the bourbons noted may sound very similar based on the minimum lawful requirement. However, the remaining 49% of the mashbill can be made from one or more other grains. The age can be 2yrs one day and there is no upper limit. But as many drammers will know, there comes a point when the wood from the cask is “used up” and no further real flavour can be imparted. A distiller will regularly check aging casks to keep an eye on the spirit and will know the perfect time to bottle that whiskey or bourbon.

What about Tennessee whiskey?

Although very similar to Bourbon (which can be made anywhere in the United States), Tennessee whiskey can only be made in Tennessee. It still uses a 51% corn mash; it also uses new charred oak casks and is bottled at minimum 80 proof (40% abv). However, it differs in one part of the production process, that being the Lincoln County Process.

The Lincoln County Process is where the spirit is passed through a column of maple charcoal chips prior to going into cask. This action softens the sprit and makes it smoother. Even this process is adjusted specifically by each distillery that uses it. Depth of charcoal or how many times the liquid is run through may are two ways it may differ between distilleries.

So, there you have it. That simple, sweeter, generally cheaper dram, that is regularly used for mixing into cocktails is extremely complex as a product. Maybe bourbon / American whiskey needs a rethink?

Barrel Global works with a number of American whiskey/bourbon producers and 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.