But Will's got it bad. He didn't just collect some bottles; he has three full single-barrels that he purchased in their entirety to share with his customers. This is not the first time that he has taken the plunge, as in the past Will and his staff have selected individual barrels from samples at distilleries like Four Roses and Eagle Rare.
This time, Woodland has bottles from special barrels at Four Roses and Eagle Rare again, plus Blanton's. Here's how Will describes each whiskey:
Four Roses OBSK Private Selection - $47
Rich in Spiciness, Full Body
The second of our three hand-selected bourbon barrels comes from the Four Roses distillery. Not the same ol' Four Roses you know and love, but better — this is a whiskey totally unique to Woodland Wine Merchant. Let me explain.
Four Roses makes 10 distinct recipes (2 grain bills x 5 proprietary yeast strains), each with its own distinctive flavor profile. In September, we tasted samples from one barrel of each recipe, and chose our favorite. They then bottled it for us at barrel strength. So, like I said, this ain't grandad's Four Roses.
Why this barrel? Because it offers the most of what we love best about Four Roses bourbons.
Barrel 4-1C, Warehouse VE, OBSK
A little bit about the recipe code OBSK. The O means this was distilled at the Four Roses facility in Lawrenceburg, KY. The B represents their "high-rye" mashbill, which is 35% rye, 60% corn and 5% malted barley. The S means it's straight whiskey. K is their name for the yeast strain used in this recipe, which creates a whiskey that is rich in spiciness and full in body.
And this particular barrel, we later discovered, was nearly 12 years old and had lost more than 50% of its contents to evaporation, or what they call the angels' share. Well, them some drunk angels.
Big as it gets for bourbon, seriously. Get this one while you can, we only have about 5 cases and it's going fast.
Eagle Rare 10yr - $30
When we bought a barrel of Eagle Rare last March, folks couldn't get over what an impressive bourbon we had found. Rich, dense, layered with notes of caramel and earth. So of course when we were picking barrels for the holiday season, Eagle Rare was top on our list.
This time it's every bit as nuanced and complex.
Barrel #315, Rick #58, Warehouse C
Out of so many choices, how did we pick this barrel? As usual with the Eagle Rare, there wasn't a bad one in the lot. But since the Four Roses is so rich and spicy, with this barrel we went for balance and finesse.
Blanton's - $49
The Original Single Barrel Bourbon
Colonel Albert Blanton aged his bourbon in the same spot, in the same warehouse, every time. It was his signature touch. It's what gave his whiskeys their legendary character. And it's what allowed him to introduce America to its first commercially viable Single Barrel Bourbon.
Nearly a century later, Colonel Blanton's stubborn ways endure. This bourbon is still aged in the "center cut" of Warehouse H, in what is now the Buffalo Trace distillery.
So back in September we sampled six unique barrels from the center cut—I know, tough work but we slogged through it—and after much deliberation, we chose our favorite. What were the criteria, you ask? Well, in this case we went for all-around quality and likeability.
Barrel #150, Rick#33, Warehouse H
Dusty, leathery aromas follow all the way through. There's an initial attack of heat on the palate that gives way gently, prettily to flavors of dark chocolate and forest floor. The sweet-salty finish is pure finesse. Light on its feet.
I couldn't have said it better myself. If you're a fan of fine bourbon, you need to make your way to this tasting and pick up one, two or all three of these bottles. They will go quickly!