Sazerac’s Single Barrel Select (SBS) program launched in 2014, although the experience underwent some enhancements earlier this year. SBS allows consumers to hand-pick their own barrel from a portfolio of spirits, primarily but not exclusively bourbon.
It’s been a success, and it appears to be growing: The SBS lot for 2023 has a 70% increase in stock from the lot in 2021, including a 99.98% increase in barrels of Buffalo Trace. Depending on availability, spirits enthusiasts have access to single barrels of Blanton’s, Eagle Rare, Weller, Paul John, The Last Drop and even a tequila (Corazón).
There are drawings four times during the year, complete with live-streamed drawing events — note that winning these drawings only gives you the opportunity to buy a barrel. There’s a points system to determine the number of entries and you need to sign up as an SBS member to participate.
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The latest drawings take place on July 26, with one for Sazerac Rye and another for Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and Blanton’s. Each bottle from a winning barrel — which can either be chosen via an in-person visit or selected by someone on the Sazerac team — features a personalized medallion with the winner’s name or logo. Winners get the bottles shipped to a local retailer for purchase (a workaround due to booze laws) and the empty barrel itself is shipped as a souvenir.
So, where did that six-figure number in the headline come from? The total cost of a barrel purchase is calculated by multiplying the price per bottle by the number of bottles yielded (which is about 160-240), plus local sales tax. Prices for these barrels currently range from $5,000 to $825,000. That last number currently applies to a 1971 Blended Scotch Whisky from The Last Drop Distillers…but if you consider that Last Drop releases usually start at $4,500 per bottle and go up quite a bit from there, this actually works out to a relative bargain. Meanwhile, when available, other prices are much more reasonable: $5,000+ (Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare), $9,600 (Weller 107 Antique — definitely worth it) and $13,000 (Blanton’s).
The deadline to enter the July 26th drawing is this Friday (June 30).
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