15 Best Single-Barrel Bourbons

For those looking for a unique whiskey experience, single barrel bourbons offer something a little different from their traditional counterparts. Instead of being blended from several barrels for a consistent flavor profile, the difference between single and double-barrel bourbon is that single barrels give a distinctive taste shaped substantially by the cask it was drawn from. The appeal of single barrel bourbons is this journey through a one-of-a-kind expression that often has exceptional complexity and depth of flavor.

Many distilleries make single barrel bourbons, but not all are worth making the list. In compiling this selection, we focused on bourbons that are still in regular production, and all of the included expressions have a distinct profile that would be a worthy addition to any collection. Purists or aficionados who sample these whiskies can discover what makes a single barrel bourbon special, while first-time tasters of the category can get a feel for a unique and prolific style of bourbon.  

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

There is no doubt that Wild Turkey is one of the best American whiskey brands, and its Kentucky Spirit is a true gem in the world of bourbon. Bottled at Wild Turkey's signature 101-proof, it's a whiskey with remarkable complexity. Before you even get to the contents, you'll be intrigued by the bottle with its handwritten details, barrel number, and date to showcase its authenticity. In the glass, it has a rich amber hue with a nose that offers a delightful blend of vanilla and caramel. Under those sweeter smells is a rich base of toasted oak.

You'll be greeted with a symphony of different flavors on the first sip. It has a full body with butterscotch balanced out by the more earthy flavors of almonds. The finish is predictably long and smooth, with a slightly peppery note that lingers on the tongue. It can be a little hard to find sometimes, but if you can buy a bottle, make sure you don't miss out. Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit doesn't quite offer the same depth as some single barrel bourbons on this list, but it's still a great whiskey that will never disappoint.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

The Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve is one of the more affordable whiskeys showcased here, but that takes nothing away from its quality. Bottled at a high proof of 120, most drinkers will need a drop of water to truly appreciate its flavor. The color is a beautifully deep amber, which gives you an insight into the complexity you'll find within. On the nose, the most dominant smell you'll get is vanilla, accompanied by more faint notes of butterscotch and toasted wood.

The sweet and floral smells unsurprisingly carry on to the palate, where plenty of other flavors join it before a final, warm finish. The sweeter flavors come in as caramel and honey and are complemented by nuts and oak. There are hints of chocolate here, with a touch of dry smokiness. There are plenty of nuanced flavors, which is what you expect from a single barrel offering. 

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel

Another offering from the Wild Turkey distillery is a 110-proof bourbon with a great history. That proof gives it a warmth but without being overpowering. You'll first notice its beautiful copper-red color, likely from its use of highly charred barrels. The nose has plenty going on and showcases a wide array of aromas, with nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon being the most unique. 

Russell's Reserve whisky has a velvety mouthfeel, which means the initial spice hit isn't too dominant on the palate. It has many bold flavors that can be picked out, with vanilla quickly coming to the fore. Along with that are more subtle notes of toffee, licorice, and dark chocolate. Under those sweeter flavors is a base of earthy notes that spread to give the bourbon a hugely enjoyable palate. As with most of these expressions, it's a great idea to try it with water to tone the bite and open up those flavors even more. Overall, it's an impressive bourbon and probably the best of what Russell's Reserve offers.

Evan Williams Single Barrel

This Evan Williams expression, a vintage single barrel, is a perfect entry point for those on a budget looking for a great single barrel bourbon. Produced by the Heaven Hill Distillery, it is an excellent offering that gives you exceptional value for money. It's another bottle with a beautiful color, with this being burnt gold. Once poured, you'll get many inviting aromas with plenty of sweet scents hitting your nose. Beyond that, you'll also get some toasted wood. There is nothing unique about its aroma profile, but it still smells fantastic. Where Evan Williams' single barrel stands out is in its unique place: Heaven Hill claims it to be: the only vintage dated single barrel bourbon on the market."

The balance on the palate is impressive, as you get a perfect mix of traditional bourbon flavors. On one side, you have notes of honey, toffee, and dried fruits; on the other, you get some cinnamon, black pepper, and oak. The finish is warm and lingering, with a gentle warmth that tingles on your tongue. At 86.6 proof, it is one of the milder single barrel bourbons and, therefore, is ideal for those not used to drinking high-strength spirits. If you've never had a single barrel bourbon before, you won't regret starting your journey here.

Michter's 10-Year Single Barrel

For those looking to drink high-quality bourbon, you can't go wrong with any of Mitcher's expressions. The single barrel is another of its excellent whiskeys, and it's one of the best bourbons you can buy right now. It has one of the most expressive aromas of any bourbon, as it's very rich with classic sweeter notes but also some nutty smells.

Upon sipping, you're greeted with a complex and harmonious flavor profile. With a creamy mouthfeel, you'll get plenty of spice here, which is no surprise considering its rye content and mature 10-year aging. The flavors of toffee and butterscotch are very rich and sit on a bed of black pepper and oak notes to keep it well grounded. While it does come with a higher price tag, Michter's 10-Year Single Barrel is a luxurious indulgence for whiskey enthusiasts and collectors alike. This bourbon is a true gem, embodying the elegance and quality of top-tier American whiskey.

Henry McKenna Single Barrel

Not only is this bourbon from Henry McKenna a single barrel, but it's also bottled-in-bond and matured for 10 years. It's a special and rich 100-proof bourbon that has become a timeless classic. Coming from the Heaven Hill Distillery, it has a rich flavor and is known for its perfect balance. The ethanol alcohol hits you strongly before you get vanilla, caramel notes, and some black pepper. You get a brilliant combination of sweet and spicy accents upon tasting, especially when cut with water.

Along with the expected sweeter notes on the palate that are hinted at with the nose, some nutmeg and a brown sugar taste come through. There is oak on the palate, but it's a lot smoother and more subtle than you'd imagine from a 10-year whiskey. The finish is long and peppery, with those sweeter flavors continuing throughout. It's excellent value for the quality it offers, and there's no doubt it deserves its high popularity.

Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses is a highly respected bourbon brand with a fascinating history. The distillery has produced many great expressions over the years, with the Four Roses single barrel being one of its best. Aged between seven to nine years and bottled at 100-proof, it has a stunning deep amber color that displays its mature flavor before you even pour a drop. You get plenty of spice on the nose, which is expected given the mash bill has a high percentage of rye. Along with it, you also get smells of cherries and sweet fruits.

Upon sipping, cinnamon and nutmeg are the first tastes to hit you and are dominant in the flavor profile. Beyond that, you get some fruity notes along with sweet vanilla. The mouthfeel is rich, which carries on to the finish. It doesn't have the longest finish, but it's satisfying and smooth, with hints of caramel and cinnamon continuing until the end. This whiskey is fruitier and spicier than many single barrel bourbons and is highly recommended if that suits your palate. While it falls within a reasonable price range for a single barrel bourbon, this Four Roses whiskey delivers a consistently outstanding drinking experience.

Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon

It's fair to say that the esteemed Buffalo Trace Distillery knows how to make an exceptional single barrel bourbon. The Eagle Rare is just one of just five of its brands, but all the distillery's expressions have unique qualities. The first feature of this whiskey you'll notice here is the long and slender bottle, with its understated branding giving it an air of sophistication. There is complexity on the nose, including orange, leather, herbs, and the more familiar sweeter notes.

The palate is quite distinctive and bold. It doesn't have the greatest depth in the world, but there is beauty in its simplicity. Honey and brown sugar are the most notable flavors and have a great supporting cast of nuts, fruits, and chocolate. At 90-proof, this is a single barrel bourbon on the lighter side. While many seasoned drinkers love this Eagle Rare, it's also recommended for those who aren't as familiar with single barrel whiskies as casual bourbon drinkers would likely enjoy it too.

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Sour Mash

Another whiskey that the Buffalo Trace Distillery crafts, this bourbon is named after the legendary distiller Elmer T. Lee. This spirit is worthy of his name and meets the excellent standards he set over his career. The 90-proof bourbon has a fantastic nose as you get some fruity notes, especially a hint of cherries. That dominates the smells, along with the more typical notes you commonly find with bourbon. It all hints at a complex palate and doesn't disappoint.

Considering  Elmer T. Lee's Sour Mash single barrel is not too dominant in the nose, there is a lot of spice on the palate, and the charred wood is also quite intense. Those fruity notes carry on to the taste and are beautifully combined with caramel and vanilla to leave you wanting more. The spiciness continues to the finish with more subtle notes of chocolate. As with a few expressions on this list, it can be a little hard to find due to its limited availability, but if you can buy a bottle, you should take the opportunity. This bourbon is a great tribute to a whiskey legend who consistently delivers an exceptional drinking experience.

John J. Bowman Pioneer Spirit

The A. Smith Bowman Distillery was founded by Abram Bowman in 1934, and this whiskey is named after his great, great uncle, a pioneer and one of the first to settle in Kentucky in the 1800s. While the family was one of the first to settle in the state, this whiskey is made in Virginia, making it one of the best bourbons not produced in Kentucky. It has a rich history, and even though Sazerac has since taken over the distillery, it still produces excellent whiskey. The nose has a delightful array of aromas ranging from licorice, sweet fruits, and cinnamon to the more common notes of sweetness and charred wood.

The palate of John J. Bowman Pioneer Spirit is exceptional as this bourbon has a luxurious mouthfeel, and even though the taste profile is quite standard, it doesn't disappoint. You get a pleasant balance of spice and sweetness, with a hint of chocolate being the most unique taste, along with the more dominant wood and vanilla. The finish is beautifully long and gives you a warmth all the way through without any harshness. While it may not be as widely known as some bourbons, John J. Bowman Pioneer Spirit offers an exceptional drinking experience.

Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel Bourbon

The name of this fine bourbon comes from the fertile farmland along the Kentucky River. It's yet another offering from the Buffalo Trace Distillery and has developed a loyal following among bourbon enthusiasts. The nose here is lovely and quite distinct, as it's fruitier than many other expressions. You'll smell a lovely range of cherries and berries, along with some smoky char, cinnamon, and apple. At 100-proof, the whiskey isn't too overpowering, but a drop of water helps to enhance those aromas further.

The fruits in the nose don't translate much to the palate, but subtle fruity hints exist. Instead, the spice is more prominent on the palate before you get an array of sweeter flavors, such as brown sugar and cherry. Its delights don't stop at the palate, as the finish is impressive, too, with even more spicy notes to elegantly complete the tasting experience. Though it falls within the premium category, Rock Hill Farms single barrel bourbon is a great choice for those seeking a top-tier bourbon experience.

E.H. Taylor Single Barrel

We may sound like a broken record by now, but there's another Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon named after a whiskey legend. This time, it's the turn of Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr, who was important in the early development of bourbon. Several expressions carry his name, but the single barrel is one of the best. The 100-proof bottle is packed with flavors and aromas. Caramel is strong on the nose and is ably supported by some cinnamon, a hint of leather, and dried figs.

For a higher-proof whiskey, E.H. Taylor's single barrel is exceptionally smooth and offers a clean-tasting experience even without any added water. There is nothing particularly distinctive about the taste profile, but the traditional notes are beautifully counterbalanced by stark baking spice and charred wood. That spice is more subtle than many other expressions and doesn't feature much on the finish. Instead, the long finish is dominated by those classical flavors you have on the palate. For those looking for a well-rounded, smooth, and delicious bourbon, this E.H. Taylor will not disappoint.

Old Forester Single Barrel

Old Forester holds an important place in the world of bourbon as the brand was the first to bottle this fine spirit. The distillery has a range of excellent expressions, but its single barrel is a brilliant bourbon. There is an interesting breadth of aromas here, with the more familiar sweet and earthy notes being supported by banana, which is quite prominent, and some hints of cherry.

That smell of banana continues onto the palate, instantly making it one of the more unique single barrel bourbons available. Butterscotch and honey are noticeable on the palate, too, along with toasted oak and brown sugar. As with all of these high-quality whiskeys, the finish is long and keeps a pleasant warmth throughout. It's a mostly spicy finish with little of the banana you get on the nose and palate. This bottle falls within a reasonable price range for a single barreled bourbon, and this Old Forester consistently delivers a superior drinking experience compared to many of its rivals.

Blanton's Original Single Barrel

We finally reached the last bourbon on this list from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, and it's a legendary one. Blanton's and the term 'single barrel' go hand-in-hand, as it's known as the first single barrel bourbon in the world. It set the standard for this type of expression and has kept up those standards throughout its history. Offered in its iconic grenade-style bottle, you get a rich smell of honey and caramel on the nose, which are elegantly grounded by hints of loamy notes, leather, and oak.

The palate is the classic single barrel experience, becoming the flag-bearer for all other single barrels. Sweet flavors of warm sugar and butterscotch are beautifully presented with a smooth mouthfeel. You get some spice here, but it doesn't detract from the exceptionally smooth drinking experience. This bourbon has a remarkable ability to be both easy to drink and still give you depth and complexity. Once you appreciate the long and sweet finish, you'll realize why this single barrel is highly regarded. While it can be challenging to find and is often sold at a premium price, Blanton's Original Single Barrel should be on the bucket list of any whiskey lover.

Elijah Craig 18-Year Single Barrel

Through its nose, palate, and finish, the Elijah Craig 18-Year is a flawless single barrel bourbon. Named after a Baptist minister who later became a distiller, Elijah Craig is sometimes credited with the invention of bourbon. However, there is very little evidence to support that. Even still, he lived a fascinating life, and the expressions that carry his name pay homage to a great man. Now made by the Heaven Hill Distillery, this bourbon has a brilliant nose with spice and vanilla before you enjoy more subtle smells of honey, chocolate, and mint.

The aroma gives you a tantalizing glimpse of what's inside and doesn't disappoint. Honey is probably the most notable taste, but there are plenty of others to enjoy. In its rich mouthfeel, you'll also get glimpses of nuts and chocolate, a gentle warmth, and a touch of charred oak. The finish is as long as it comes and seems to last forever. Throughout the experience, its 18-year aging shines through with its maturity and complexity. It's a testament to the patience and expertise of American bourbon-making and a must-try for any serious whiskey enthusiast.