Brands use the term small batch to distinguish the expression as something special. There is no single definition for small batch—it can mean just about anything.
We know the law of making bourbon in the United States. Producing an expression typically falls into the category of a standard barrel. A standard barrel is 53 gallons in size.
Here is where it gets tricky. There are smaller size barrels, such as 30, 20 and 15 gallons. Personal-use barrels for blending or aging can go as low as one liter.
Enthusiasts believe that small-batch barrels have more attention paid to them, which is why small-batch bottles are more sought after. Distillers typically blend a select few single-barrel bourbons to reach the desired expression.
The Bourbon Flight employees love small-batch bourbons and we decided to come up with a list of our favorite small batch bourbons that are reasonably priced. The list is based on the lowest to highest in price.
Devils River Bourbon, $30
- A Texas small batch bourbon , Devils River Bourbon Whiskey, has won multiple awards for the bottle design and the spirits inside. The water used in the recipe is sourced from a Del Rio private well fed by the Devils River. The river is naturally filtered by limestone and other natural minerals. The purity of the water unmasks all the nuances of the bourbon, including plum, cherry and butterscotch. This bourbon is Texas whiskey at its finest.
Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch, $30
- Here is another small batch that does not call Kentucky home. It’s a young bourbon, established in 2006 by Brad and Kate Mead, ranchers who wanted to produce bourbon. The distillery uses the natural resources of Wyoming to create an expression with a different flavor profile than other small-batch bourbons. The water used in the mash comes from a limestone aquifer millions of years old and has not been exposed to sunlight. All these unique ingredients produce a fine small batch of bourbon.
Broken Barrel Small Batch, $35
- As you might have guessed by the name, this bourbon is finished in various flavors of broken barrel staves. The distillery calls this its Oak Bill: 40% French oak, 40% ex-bourbon cask staves and 20% sherry cask staves. The finishing process brings flavors not tasted in such a young bourbon. A complex, rich flavor of vanilla, French oak and dark fruit trick you into thinking you are sipping on a much older bourbon.
Knob Creek 9-Year Small Batch, $35
- Nowadays, bourbon lovers want something unique or unknown because they believe it might be the next unicorn. So, powerhouse Jim Beam’s Knob Creek 9-Year Small Batch is widely overlooked. That assumption would be a mistake. A solid bourbon from start to finish, this 100-proof, pre-Prohibition-style bourbon is aged for a minimum of nine years—longer than most small-batch bourbon. The result is a rich, balanced sipper highlighted by flavors like toasted vanilla beans, caramel and oak.
Four Roses Small Batch, $40
- This distillery is dear to our heart, and we still believe this small batch is as good as any. At 90 proof, this complex bourbon has been aged between six and seven years. It’s a straightforward bourbon made from four different bourbons that have their own recipe. What sets this bourbon apart from others is its value. Finding multiple award-winning small-batch bourbons at this price point would take a lot of work.
Russell’s Reserve 10-Years-Old, $40
- This small batch is named after father and son Jimmy and Eddie Russell. The duo has been with Wild Turkey for a combined 100 -plus years. This expression is made with the same mash bill as the flagship bourbon. This is a small batch because it is picked by Eddie himself and each barrel is aged at least 10 years. That age statement and Eddie’s knowledge of outstanding bourbon guarantee that this small-batch bourbon is special.
Bib & Tucker 6-Year-Old Small Batch, $45
- Introduced in 2014, this 6-year-old small-batch bourbon should be on everyone’s radar. Most reviews call this an entry-level bourbon, but we disagree. Full of flavor and complexity, Bib & Tucker may be in an already crowded field but it holds its own. Sourced from 6, 10 and 12-year-old bourbons and aged for six years, this small batch comes in at a sweet 92 proof—just enough burn to satisfy the hardcore drinkers but low enough to be sipped on by a novice.
Iron Smoke Straight Bourbon, $55
- A bourbon that is underappreciated and should be more widely known, this small-batch, four-grain, applewood-smoked bourbon was a double gold winner at the Denver International Spirits Competition. The glacier-formed Finger Lakes region of New York is what owner and founder Tommy Brunett explains is the magic potion for his spirit. This bourbon should be more popular but it is tough to find in stores—not because it’s not there, but because it is usually hidden by lesser-known brands.
Noah’s Mill Small Batch, $65
- A world-class bourbon created by Willet Distillery. This small-batch blend contains bourbon from four to 20 years old. At 114 proof, the bourbon packs a punch that others on this list do not. Do not be afraid of the higher proof. The bourbon is quite mellow on the palate, with vanilla and espresso flavors. Pour after pour, this small batch will fulfill any enthusiast’s checklist.
Garrison Brothers Small Batch, $75
- The first legal distillery in Texas, Garrison Brothers, has created a small batch that competes with more prominent brands. The distillery demonstrates that great bourbon can come from outside Kentucky. Using only 15-gallon barrels, Garrison Brothers packs a lot of flavors in this offering and they credit the fluctuation in Texas weather. The extreme changes push more liquid into the staves, releasing a flavor explosion of oak, tobacco and sugar cane.
Click here for more Original Pours.
Click here to join The Flight Club