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Old 11-01-2007, 11:17 AM   #1
angelsword
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Default Single Barrel

I remain unimpressed by most of what is offered as single barrel and tend to think of it as a marketing ploy... a very good marketing ploy... to play on the word "single". But I wonder if there is something I am missing.
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:37 AM   #2
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I tend to agree with you though I have tasted a few single barrel whiskeys that were worth it. The definition of single barrel is pretty loose. If I blend some rum and put it another barrel for a few months, it becomes single barrel rum. Much of the hype surrounding these products is sadly more about the name than the product.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
If I blend some rum and put it another barrel for a few months, it becomes single barrel rum.
This is the Cruzan way of achieving Single Barrel. Are there others who run this ploy?
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
I tend to agree with you though I have tasted a few single barrel whiskeys that were worth it. The definition of single barrel is pretty loose. If I blend some rum and put it another barrel for a few months, it becomes single barrel rum. Much of the hype surrounding these products is sadly more about the name than the product.
I have tasted both good and bad single barrel selections come from the same producer. But nothing great. The tastes seem to be less complex overall.

Secondary barrelling seems just that, twice barrelled, which can certainly be put to great effect by shifting barrel types. But that seems even more marketable than "single barrel".
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Old 11-01-2007, 05:38 PM   #5
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As Edward said - the terms "single barrel" is *loose* - especially with a spirit such as rum. It's hard to regulate or expect conformation with something that is produced in a mutlitude of countries (like rum).

In the whiskey arena we have an abreviated saying - YMMV ["Your mileage may vary]. Single barrel terminology definitely falls under that warning.

Purely from a consumer psyche, there's a segment that believe that single barrel implies the spirit in the specified barrel is of superior quality, otherwise it would not be able to stand on its own - nor would the distillery be feeble enough to bottle it as such.

That's definitely the WRONG approach to take if one is into practicality. Also, FWIW, I'm not too sure about with-in the rum industry, but there is a certain implied and understood context when one speaks of "single barrel" product - that the item has a certain amount of lack of consistency.

For me there are a couple of strategies that apply with regards to single barrels (any spirit):

First there are those who appreciate different and can separate "different" from better vs. worse etc. A single barrel product should display at least a minimal difference from a brand's standard product. Not doing so defeats the purpose in the first place. So a person bent on difference and open to "new experiences" blah blah blah is a good candidate to expose themselves to a single barrel product.

Secondly, building upon or furthering "different", if the bottler usually delivers good product, a single barrel can represent a glimpse of the variety of rum being played with to blend out to the standard brand. Being that most single barrel spirits taste differently from batch to batch, if you follow a particular brand you can taste a slim variety of what the distillery is working with.

On the beware side... just as the false belief that Single Barrel implies a barrel of superior quality spirit, a single barrel can also be marketed on the basis of the contents inside tasting so far off the desired profile, the distillery has no intention of blending it. This may work for the "I like anything different" crowd, but at the same time it's a good way to piss off and ruin ones own reputation among core enthusiasts who aren't content with "different" if different = horrible.

And secondly "Single Barrel" terminology allows a certain and expected price spike due to associated production costs. Distilleries are going to point out: Rather than dump a few thousand liters into a vat and bottle them in one continuous rotation, "Single Barrel" product has to be bottled 1 barrel's worth at a time. It's more time consuming and thus more expensive to do so.
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Old 11-03-2007, 01:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Matusalem View Post
And secondly "Single Barrel" terminology allows a certain and expected price spike due to associated production costs. Distilleries are going to point out: Rather than dump a few thousand liters into a vat and bottle them in one continuous rotation, "Single Barrel" product has to be bottled 1 barrel's worth at a time. It's more time consuming and thus more expensive to do so.
Thank you for that explanation. I had not seen that last part of it. I had thought that single barrel might even save costs a bit through avoidance of the blending energies.
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Old 11-03-2007, 01:40 AM   #7
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Anglesword,

Just to be fair or clear here, I should add that most of my single barrel experience is with whisk(e)y. I tend to think that there are similarities industry-wide but it might not be the case that it's always more expensive or time consuming for rum.

In the whisk(e)y genre, many of them are for nationwide market or international. To fill that sort of demand you can imagine quite a lot of barrels have to be dumped and bottled (1 barrel at a time). The stop and start adds up with higher volume producers / bottlers.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:10 AM   #8
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In addition to the undefined Single Barrel designation, adding numbers to a label is sometimes used to persuade consumers that this particular bottle is special. In one case, the batch number can be traced by the blender to a production date, but is of little use beyond that.

As the number of true craft distilled products coming to market continues to grow, I expect these terms to gain some significance among craft distillers, but will continue to have little significance in the wider market.
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