Choosing a single cask allows a retailer to create a unique bottling, like this exceptional lineup from this year’s Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections

 Yes, I’ll take that one

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to a distillery you like, sample a few drams, then pick the one you like best and bring it home? (Uhm…isn’t that how whisky tastings work?) Well, what if you like the expressions so much that you want the whole cask? That’s what retailers do when they want to bottle and sell a particular cask from a particular distillery (independent bottlers, like Single Cask Nation do something similar). I’m simplifying the process of course, but when a retailer selects a cask, they can have control over creating or finishing that cask. Some distillers, like Four Roses, allow their client to choose the mash bill (i.e. what gets distilled into the initial spirit) for their private labels. Others (like Maker’s Mark) give the client a choice of the staves (the slats that make up a barrel) in which to finish their selections. Whatever the choices, the retailer ends up with a unique limited-edition bottling.


Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections, Maker's Mark, barrel finishing staves
Your choices for barrel finishing staves include staves from ex-bourbon, sherry, and port casks, among others


Ken Gordon of Gordon’s DTX, my favorite local retailer (and not just because they host Whisky Wednesday every week), has an exceptional palate and a talent for picking private selection expressions that are excellent. This week’s tasting featured some of Ken’s whiskey and rye selections for this year’s Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections, all at cask strength. And boy, were they good!

(Let’s get to it then)


Gordon's Single Barrel Selection lineup
Our Single Barrel Select lineup for this tasting

Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections

At Gordon’s DTX, July 3, 2019

Sagamore Gordon’s Private Selection Rye

Keyword: American Whiskey, Cask Strength, Rye Whiskey, Whiskey

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: caraway, walnuts, vanilla fudge
  • Taste: starts hot, strong baking spices, cinnamon, cloves, then the rye notes hit
  • Finish: anise, cinnamon, caramel at the end
  • Comments: a strong spirit, rye hides a bit at first then peeks out at the end

Whistle Pig Gordon’s Single Barrel Rye 13yr 2019

Keyword: American Whiskey, Cask Strength, Rye Whiskey, Whiskey

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: honey, nutmeg, almonds, anise
  • Taste: rye, anise, white pepper, brown sugar
  • Finish: fades to fudge & caraway
  • Comments: very pleasant, strong & sweet, rye is present but it overwhelmingly so


Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections, Sagamore Rye, WhistlePig


Barrell Craft Rye Gordon’s Private Cask 2019

Keyword: American Whiskey, Cask Strength, Rye Whiskey, Whiskey

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: strong rye, caramel, brown sugar, white chocolate
  • Taste: brown sugar, quickly transitions to very strong rye and black peppercorns, hot cayenne pepper
  • Finish: fades to cinnamon and dill pickles
  • Comments: if you like rye, this one’s for you...all the flavors are there

1792 Gordon’s Private Cask Full Proof 9yr 2019

Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Cask Strength, Whiskey

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: caramel, light almond meal
  • Taste: strong black pepper to almonds, peppermint, cinnamon, strong cloves, ginger
  • Finish: baking spices linger long & strong, basil at the very end
  • Comments: so good! Bourbon at its best; flavors flip through like a deck of cards

An added bonus

We were lucky enough to have Laura Kanzler from Kavalan  to add to the fun. There were three expressions she was sampling, of which I tasted one…

Kavalan Maestro Sherry Cask

Keyword: Cask Strength, Sherry Cask Finish, Taiwanese Whisky, Whisky

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: toffee, plums, cooked fruit, pineapple
  • Taste: deep and dark prunes, black cherries, caramel, coffee, dark chocolate
  • Finish: mocha, prunes
  • Comments: Wow! Deep fruit flavors and cinnamon with a hint of chewing on peppercorns; this dram is like a fine wine


Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections, Kavalan, 1792, Barrell


I didn’t have a chance to add water to any of my samples, and I suspect that a couple of drops would bring out more layers of flavor from any of these expressions. I took home the 1792, and I saw several of my friends grab the Sagamore and the Barrell (you can see Gordon’s entire range of private barrels here). Kudos to Ken for creating an exceptional whiskey and rye lineup for Gordon’s Single Barrel Selections…I can’t wait to try his next choices!

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


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