Clicky

Bottled-in-Bond vs Single Barrel Bourbons (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Lydia Martin

A type of American whiskey known as bourbon is made from at least 51% corn, then aged in charred oak barrels. 

But among the types of bourbon, how do bottled-in-bond and single-barrel bourbon differ from each other? How do you tell them apart? 

Are there requirements that need to be met in order to be called single barrel and bottled-in-bond? 

Let’s end the confusion here as we compare bottled-in-bond vs single barrel bourbons. 

Single Barrel & Bottled-in-Bond Bourbons Compared 

whisky decanter and a glass

Bottled-in-bond (BiB) bourbons (or bonded bourbon) are crafted at a single distillery, while single-barrel bourbons can be made from different distilleries. 

When it comes to aging, bonded bourbons must be aged for a minimum of four years, while single barrel expressions are required to age for a minimum of two years. 

Another thing, bottled-in-bond must be bottled at 100-proof or 50% ABV, which is more high-proof than single barrel bourbons, which can be bottled at any proof so long as it follows the bourbon requirements.  

Let’s Take A Closer Look 

Production Process

distillery pot stills

The production process (distillation) of bonded bourbons took place at a single distillery, crafted by a single distiller. 

Using oak barrels, the spirit is aged in federally controlled facilities or warehouses for a minimum of four years. 

After aging, it must be bottled at 100-proof. All of these requirements are in line with the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.

“Bottled-in-bond is a unique expression of location. It’s very terroir-oriented. It has a sense of place.”

— Maggie Campbell, President & Head distiller at Privateer Rum

In comparison, single-barrel bourbons are almost similar to any standard bourbons in production. 

These spirits are aged in one single barrel instead of a blended mixture of various bourbon barrels. 

The spirits from a single barrel are individually bottled–at any proof. But each bottle has its own unique barrel number and dates regarding the aging process. 

Price Point

Single-barrel bourbons are pricier than bottled-in-bond bourbons. 

Although bottled-in-bond is expensive to produce because of their strict requirements, it comes at a reasonable cost and is not the expensive type that most people assume.  

Compared to other types of bourbon, single-barrel bourbons are expensive due to the limited number of bottles that can be produced. 

For instance, a whiskey barrel can produce around 130 to 220 bottles, which is lower than the average for other types of bourbon. 

Mash Bill

3 glasses with whisky and grains

As we all know, every bourbon mash bill must contain rye, malted barley, and corn, which is the dominant of all the grains that make up the spirit. 

Single-barrel and bonded bourbons contain the same mash bill. What’s different is the percentage of the grains, which will depend on the spirit’s brand.  

But based on the bourbon law, any bourbon expression must contain at least 51% corn [1]. 

Flavor Profile

The flavor profiles of the single barrel and bonded bourbons have similarities: oak, vanilla, and spice notes. 

However, bottled-in-bond expressions taste grassy but sweet and spicy. In comparison, single-barrel expressions are more on the sweet side. 

Bottled-in-bond bourbons have a lingering warm and spicy finish, compared with single barrel spirits with a honey and spice hint on a medium-length finish.  

Popularity

Single-barrel and bottled-in-bond bourbons are equally popular in the whiskey world. 

Bottled-in-bond spirits are popular and in demand for those fanatics looking for a budget option, while the single barrel is popular for those looking for something unique and rare–with a budget. 

Top Brands 

liquor shelves

Many companies are producing single barrel expressions, and some of the notable brands include:

On the other hand, bottled-in-bond bourbons are also a staple in other companies, including the following brands:

FAQs 

Which is harder to find, single-barrel or Bottled-in-Bond?

Single-barrel bourbons are harder to find because of the limited bottles produced.

Every whiskey barrel can only produce 13-220 bottles, which is low compared to bottled-in-bond expressions.

Which is a better sipper, single-barrel or Bottled-in-Bond?

A single barrel is a better sipper. The inoffensive flavor profile and tasting notes make this bourbon type something you can sip straight. 

Key Takeaways

Single-barrel and bottled-in-bond bourbons have similarities in flavor profile, mash bill, and popularity. 

But what makes them distinct is how they’re crafted, the requirements, aging, and price point. 

In this battle, there’s no better than the other. Both cater to different taste buds and preferences of whiskey drinkers. 

If you’re into spicy and warm expression at a price you can afford– opt for bottled-in-bond bourbons.

But, if you’re into the sweeter side and a straight sipper, then opt for single-barrel bourbons. 

Reference:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html 

Leave a Comment