Barrel aging is a crucial part of whisky making—it gives the spirit its color and adds a greater depth of flavor over time. Some styles even mandate the type of barrel or vessel used to age the whiskey. Bourbon, for example, is legally required to be placed in a new charred oak container meaning that once a barrel has been emptied, it can never be used to make bourbon again. So what happens to those barrels? They can be used to aged other types of whiskey like American single malt, or other types of spirits like gin, rum, or cognac.
Bourbon barrel aging can give these other spirits, and wine as well, an added dimension, as the oak likewise imparts color, but also flavors left behind from the whiskey. Taste that influence for yourself with these 10 bottles that offer something for whisky lovers looking to branch our into other spirits, and fans of those spirits looking to develop a taste for oak.
10 bourbon barrel-Aged spirits and wines to try now
Don Papa 10 year old Rum—43%, $70
This is Don Papa’s flagship rum—aged 7 years in bourbon barrels—but aged an additional 3 years in the same barrels that have been re-charred, resulting in a bolder spirit with cacao, roasted coffee beans, spice, tropical fruit, and toasted vanilla.
Martell Blue Swift Spirit Drink—40%, $46
With a base of VSOP cognac that’s finished for several months in bourbon barrels from Kentucky, Blue Swift has flavors of ginger, plum, and candied fruit followed by distinctive hints of vanilla and toasted oak.
Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin—47%, $34
This fragrant and vibrant yet mellow gin is aged for a minimum of 12 months in charred new American oak barrels, which introduce caramel and vanilla without sacrificing the juniper and pepper notes.
Don Julio 1942 Tequila Añejo—40%, $140
Aged at least 2 1/2 years in bourbon barrels, this has roasted agave, vanilla, sun-ripened tropical fruits, with spiced undertones and a lingering touch of oak on the palate.
Espolòn Añejo Tequila—40%, $35
Espòlon Añejo is aged for a year—10 months in new American oak and 2 months in deeply charred Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Vanilla and butterscotch complement the agave and earthy characteristics.
Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged Cachaça—40%, $35
This cachaça is aged 2 years in Kentucky bourbon barrels that have been taken apart, sanded, and re-toasted. Dominant flavors include banana bread, chocolate, cinnamon bark, coffee, and toasty black pepper.
Beringer Bros. Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon—14.2%, $20
Twenty percent of this cabernet is aged for 60 days in bourbon barrels, resulting in ripe tannins, toasted hazelnuts, blackberry, dark chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and black cherry preserves.
Ménage à Trois Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon—14.8%, $15
Jammy blueberry and blackberry flavors, plus oak, vanilla, caramel and smoky spice characteristics are the result of aging 3 months in barrels that previously held Amador Whiskey Co. Double Barrel bourbon.
1000 Stories 2018 Zinfandel Batch #71—15.8%, $20
Aged in bourbon barrels for 3 months, this zinfandel’s subtle ripeness perfectly marries with the grilled herbs, sweet vanilla, and char flavors of the oak, with the kick of bourbon influence rounding out the finish.
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Woodford Reserve Barrel Finish—15.2%, $50
After maturing 11 months in French oak, this pinot noir is aged 4 months in freshly emptied Woodford Reserve barrels. The palate is rich and juicy with soft tannins and lush red and black berries, with balanced acidity.