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Friday, September 3, 2021

Are Barrel Picks a Waste of Time?

The Bourbon Review has a nice op-ed laying out the argument that barrel picks nowadays are no different than the vast amount of bottles you can already buy on the shelves. As you may already know, a barrel pick is a where bars, individuals, or retailers purchase all the bottles from a single cask and sell them as an exclusive offering.

One of the great insights from the article:
Today, of course, every major liquor store (especially the big box) needs to have barrel picks from countless distilleries, and if you taste many of them, you start to wonder if any scrutiny was actually put into the “picks” or if the retailer was simply told by his distributor: “Here are your picks for the year!” Don’t get me wrong, if it comes from a major Kentucky distillery, it will almost always be solid, but it seems it will rarely be mind-blowing any more.

In my experience, I've noticed that bars are selling their own barrel picks for higher prices, without providing any context as to why, other than the bourbon all came from the same barrel. Another trend is how the distilleries are marketing barrel picks. They'll pick out a few barrels themselves and allow groups to pick between 3-5 different barrels. There is no context as to why the barrels selected would be better than any other barrel, but rather, it's simply a marketing trick to sell an entire barrel worth of bourbon. 

So to answer the question... are barrel picks a waste of time... For me, this is a trend that seems to be taking off for no other reason than the illusion of having something that isn't attainable from stores... when in actuality, customers are left buying an entire barrel worth of bourbon that is not materially different from what can be bought off the shelves. So unless there is a discernable difference or something incredibly special or unique about the barrel... barrel picks are indeed, a waste of time. 

The Bourbon Review - Op-Ed: Have Private Barrel Picks Jumped the Shark?

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