6 Can't-Miss Barrel Proof Bourbon Buys
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6 Barrel Proof Bourbons You Can’t Miss

The world of whiskey is chock full of whiskey at nearly every proof. From 80 proof to whiskeys that clear the 140-proof bar with ease, there’s always something out there to suit the mood. Barrel proof bourbon is bourbon that sees no dilution between the barrel and the bottle – essentially an opportunity to taste whiskey in its most natural form. With the rise of bourbon has come in a rise of enthusiasts and curious drinkers alike seeking out barrel proof whiskeys. Here are 6 barrel proof bourbons that you can’t miss:

Bulleit Barrel Strength

barrel proof bourbon

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After a brief hiatus from shelves, Bulleit Barrel Strength is returning to shelves this fall. As a result, Batch 07 will arrive just in time for the holidays. Batches 1-6 were sold in relatively rapid fashion back in 2018-2020, and we’ll hope to see the same in 2022 and beyond.

Bulleit’s Barrel Strength Bourbon is a barrel-proof expression typically found in the 58%-60% ABV range that leans on the spicier side of the spectrum. Cracked pepper, honey, bold barrel char and a touch of vanilla and caramel round out this pour.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed 

barrel proof bourbon

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Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon has quickly become a cult favorite among fans of the brand and beyond — delivering a bold flavor profile at a pretty consistent bargain. Said to contain up to 12-year-old bourbon, the bottling doesn’t carry an explicit age statement. I’d recommend letting this one sit for a few minutes before you sip, but if you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded with a sweet, silky, dessert-forward pour.

Notes of maple, brown sugar, light tobacco, bold sweet oak and toffee await. While 58% ABV is nothing to sneeze at, it is on the lower side compared to other popular barrel-proof bourbons without sacrificing any richness or mouth feel.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 033barrel proof bourbon

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Barrell Bourbon’s recent release of Batch 33 has been our favorite of many recent batches. While it carries an age statement of 5 years old, it contains components aged up to 9 years old, distilled in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. Typically, brands leave off age statements entirely when there’s a range of distillate ages (see Rare Breed, for instance), since the age statement of a whiskey can only reflect the youngest in the blend, but Barrell remains committed to including as much info as it’s able.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 033 leans on the sweeter side and is a lovely pour filled with a bold corn sweetness, like caramel popcorn, buttery biscuits and rich viscosity. It’s lighter on the oak than some others in this lineup, and I’m all right with that as it’s extremely well balanced.

Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Maker's Mark Cask Strength

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Maker’s Mark Cask Strength is probably the best deal going in whiskey right now, providing one of the best wheated bourbons at high proof for under $60 just about anywhere you look. In a day and age where Weller can be tough to find, there’s really no reason to overlook this barrel-proof expression from one of Kentucky’s most storied heritage distillers.

A wheated bourbon features wheat as the secondary grain in the mashbill. The mashbill is essentially the recipe for a whiskey: It’s the ratio of grains that the whiskey was distilled from. All bourbon must be at least 51% corn, but the rest is up to the distiller. Maker’s Mark uses 16% Red Winter Wheat, paired with 70% corn and 14% malted barley for this whiskey.

The result is a beautiful combination of butterscotch, sweet toffee, silky mouthfeel with plenty of texture and flavor. A hint of maple and apple butter come along for the ride with rich tobacco on the finish. It’s decadent, and we may just never hunt Weller again as a result.


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Booker’s 

Barrel Proof Bourbon

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Booker’s, oh, Booker’s. Even though you’ve become harder to find year after year, even though you’ve become more expensive year after year, it’s still hard not to appreciate just how much flavor can be packed into a single bottle of whiskey. It’s not the oldest whiskey in this lineup — not by a long shot — but it’s hard to pin it as anything but the most flavorful.

Made just how Booker Noe liked things, uncut and unfiltered, Booker’s is barrel-proof whiskey at Beam’s finest. The first batch of 2022, named “Ronnie’s Batch,” is a symphony of rich buttercream, roasted peanuts and graham cracker pie crust. Sweet oak and pralines hang on the palate for ages.

Larceny Barrel Proof 

Barrel Proof Bourbon

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Last but not least is Heaven Hill’s answer to Maker’s Mark Cask Strength and the success of the wheated bourbon category in general. While trickier to track down than Maker’s Mark, Larceny packs in a bit more oak and spice, leading to a more balanced profile. If you prefer a wheated bourbon but miss the baking spice and oak in Maker’s Mark, this is a perfect snag.

Larceny Barrel Proof releases three batches a year, is distilled at Heaven Hill and aged for 6-8 years. The batch featured here is C922 – the third batch of 2022, released in September. Larceny’s first batches had a tricky launch, but the 2021 and 2022 batches have all been winners, packed with flavor.

 

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