Results for tag "barrel-selection"

2 Articles

Knob Creek 25th Anniversary Celebration & Barrel



Knob CreekKnob Creek 25th Anniversary Party & Barrel recently released a highly allocated, cask strength, unfiltered single barrel in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the brand. Just prior to the release, we were told about this special bottling and asked to be part of a select few to come to Kentucky for a huge celebration and to taste a single barrel that Fred Noe had selected just for Ace Spirits. This is a release of only 16 single barrels all at cask strength for restaurants and retailers. We would be one of only 9 retailers invited and receiving barrels. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

The shindig was set up at a relatively recently acquired piece of property just next to Beam’s Clermont, Kentucky distillery. It was primarily acquired for the water source in the back, but there is a quaint house on the expansive property as well as a car port that was transformed into a swank bar for this event. There was music, fishing, bags (aka: cornhole), a barrel charring demonstration, cocktail contest, and of course plenty of food and booze.




For me, the highlight of the day was the Oink & Barrel tasting that paired different Knob Creek releases with different country hams. This was the highlight partly because bacon is AWESOME and partly because things got somewhat fuzzy soon after. Four different Knob Creek whiskeys and four different Country Ham producers, culminating with the 25th Anniversary and a ham smoked in Fred Noe’s back yard. I’d never done this type of pairing before.  It started with a taste of whiskey, then a taste of ham, then a revisit of the whiskey. The result in your mouth is sort of like magic. Weird, oily explosions and all sorts of crazy flavors dancing all over your tongue. Ohmigosh.

What followed was an excellent battery of pre-batched cocktails that went down far too easily, an interesting demonstration of barrel charring by the folks at International Stave, a cocktail competition, and a couple totally inept rounds of bags (a game fondly called cornhole here in Minnesota). I consciously refrained from saying the word “cornhole” as I was in the woods of Kentucky after dark with a bunch of locals that were drinking. All ended without incident, but I will say that the ibuprofen included in the welcome bag was appreciated when the 9AM buzzer roused me from my slumber.


Day 2 wasThe tent at Warehouse K held just outside of Warehouse K- the location of all Single Barrel selections for Knob Creek. Once again, the folks at Beam pulled out all the stops with a tent setup that included a bar and a country breakfast that would soak up yesterday’s sins. Once again, there were games and shenanigans as waves of people were introduced to the barrels of 25th Anniversary that Fred had chosen for them. While we were waiting, three very special barrels were popped open in the tent- Knob Creek Rye.

Previously unavailable as a single barrel, this was a prequel for a fall product launch of 30 seven year old barrels that will be bottled at 115 proof. We had the opportunity to sample three cask strength barrels from from very different parts of the warehouses. Tasting proof ranged from 117-127 and the range in flavors was wide. I’m not the biggest rye fan, but the samples from the lower racks where excellent- especially with some water. After a bit more sun and food, it was our turn to head into the warehouse to be introduced to our barrel of Knob Creek 25th Anniversary.

Knob Creek Rye Single BarrelI’ve picked a whole lot of single barrels over the years, and the Knob Creek barrels are consistently some of the best. When choosing, I get to sample bourbon directly from the barrel- a treat that’s never lost on me, and ever since the very first barrel pick I’ve unsuccessfully begged them to bottle at cask strength. While Fred Noe probably won’t stand over a barrel of bourbon and serve you samples from a whiskey thief, this is as close as you’re going to get to that experience at home.

Our barrel was an absolute stunner that clocked in at just over 125 proof. It will sit a bit longer before being bottled in August, so proof will change slightly. Out of the barrel, it wasn’t so much hot as it was tight. Some air helped with that, but a tiny bit of water and BAM!!!! This was one of those mystical honey barrels. Having tried some of the other barrels that day, I’m quite happy with the barrel that was allocated to Ace Spirits- Crazy complex and hitting all the right notes that an exceptional bourbon should. Others that sampled our barrel had a bit of envy in their eyes- some even commented aloud. In all, the perfect cap to a perfect couple days and a highly anticipated delivery that is expected in September of 2017.

Pre-Order yours here and check out a few more pics of the event below…


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Four Roses Barrel Selection- December 2016

Four Roses Tasting Room

It took nearly a year of coordination to get a barrel selection date at Four Roses. As it turned out, with total time on the ground of just four hours, this would be the very last barrel selection of 2016 to be snuck in just under the wire!


Distillery Entrance of Four RosesOur previous barrel selections were based on samples that were sent to us, but the program has since been dramatically revamped due to supply issues. Four Roses barrel selections are now only available to those that have purchased barrels in the past and selections must be made at the distillery. It makes sense when you think about it- sending out samples ties up barrels until decisions are made. When you multiply those decision trees out among those that want barrels, the math becomes apparent. We went back and forth on availability of barrels and trying to find dates that worked, but I finally made the plans to arrive in the wee hours of the final weekday of 2016, rent a car to make the short trek from Louisville, taste some world class bourbon and then reverse course.

I’d been to Four Roses before, but never to the Cox Creek facility where my appointment was. The barrel selection room is in a nondescript building nestled between a neighborhood of Four Roses’ signature single story rickhouses. These warehouses are tiny compared to some of the monster, six to ten story rickhouses normally used in the area. The diminutive warehouses were built to ensure a more even temperature from top to bottom and therefore a more consistent aging process.


Four Roses Bourbon Recipes for Single Barrel

Four Roses makes their bourbon using two different mashbills and five different yeast strains which provides ten different recipe variants.  For some detail about the recipes, check out the Four Roses’ Infographic.  The recipes are noted on the label and there is quite a difference from one variant to the next.  As you become familiar with the distillery you establish preferences, but also an appreciation for the entire lineup.

With barrel selections I’ve made in the past, several of the recipes were unavailable. I was ecstatic to open the door and see nine barrels waiting there for me! The only missing recipe, OBSO, is the whiskey that goes into the 100 Proof Single Barrel product that is widely available. I was told that the resulting shortage of this recipe means no more single barrel selections of OBSO for another two years. Oh well, nine will do! I asked my host if it was possible to assemble a nearly complete set of nine for our shop, but allocations wouldn’t allow me to be greedy- I’d have to narrow the field. We proceeded by drawing barrel samples with a thief, setting up all nine glasses, and getting down to business!



Glasses of Four Roses Bourbon


As with all tastings, I spend some time nosing all of the whiskey we will be tasting. Nine different samples is a lot for one session and it takes a bit of time to get your head around what makes them each special. I asked to blind taste the samples- I didn’t want to know the ages or the recipes until after so as not to be influenced by anything other than the bourbon itself.

Candidates for the Barrel Selection program are hand culled from the general population by distiller Brent Elliott. He focuses on exceptional barrels that best represent each recipe. This ensures the store picks will be a grade above the rest. While there wasn’t a bad barrel in this bunch (I have had what I considered sub-par barrels before), I definitely have my preferences with Four Roses and could pick out the two SQ variants immediately. When choosing store picks, I tend to work backwards and eliminate my least favorite, so these two were on the hit list.




Four Roses Single Barrels of BourbonTasting this many cask strength bourbons straight from the barrel takes a bit of time.  Go too fast and your palate is thrashed too much to appreciate the differences. Slow, small sips with palate cleansers do the trick and reviewing the field a couple of times helps solidify the decision. We tasted, we talked, and narrowed the field down to two. I again implored my host just to release nine barrels to us so we didn’t have to choose, but I’d only get one.

As it turns out, the two the field were narrowed down to were the OBSK and the OBSF, and I was torn between the two.  Both were off the charts tasty with explosive blasts of flavor- vanilla, caramel and the things you’d expect from bourbon.  But the OBSK had a more impressive finish and a bit more cinnamon spice.  It turns out, our OBSK bottling saw 9 years and three months in oak before being bottled at 57.1% ABV and sent to us.  This fine bottle is now available for purchase online while supplies last.

Buy our Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon OBSK Store Pick Here.


Four Roses Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon OBSK- Ace Spirits Single Barrel Selection Glasses of Four Roses Bourbon Four Roses Private Barrel Selection House