Don’t sleep on these barrel picks for your bunker

Barrel pick bottles

The current lineup for sale at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen. | Photo by Sara Havens

Yesterday, Pennsylvania called for a closing of all of its liquor stores. I’m hoping that’s just a weird Pennsylvania thing and the idea won’t spread to other states (plus, I think PA is a state-run liquor store type of deal). In any case, while you’re hoarding all that toilet paper, you might want to grab some bottles of bourbon while you’re at it.

While you’re likely to find a great supply of everyday bourbon, wine, beer and other spirits at your neighborhood grocery or mega-store, just remember that it’s important now more than ever to SHOP LOCAL. Plus, your local stores are likely to have special barrel picks, and barrel picks are the best because they are truly one-of-a-kind.

Which exact stores am I talking about? Well, it would be impossible on my Bar Belle budget to name them all off the top of my head, but here are a handful: Westport Whiskey & Wine, The Wine Rack, Old Town Liquor, Liquor Barn, Liquor World (the ones way out in the East End, like off of Old Henry Road), Prospect Wine & Liquors, and the list goes on.

Also, don’t forget about the bars with the special package license that can sell you bourbon by the bottle. These include Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen, Butchertown Grocery and Butchertown Grocery Bakery, Justin’s House of Bourbon21c Museum Hotel, Taj and The Pearl.

I stopped into Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen around lunch today to check in with manager Wayne Sweeney about what bottles he’s currently selling. It’s also important to note that Merle’s offers carryout service from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and this is also when they’re open for bottle purchase. While I was there, I was happy to see business was steady — every time he hung up the phone with an order, it would ring again.

I didn’t want to bother him too much, so I just grabbed a few photos (above) and took down some notes. Here are the bottles and prices. And remember, they are all private barrel selections:

  • Elijah Craig Single Barrel — $40
  • Jefferson’s Reserve — $65
  • Jefferson’s Ocean — $105
  • Knob Creek — $48
  • Maker’s Mark — $78
  • New Riff Bourbon — $55
  • Old Forester — $44
  • Woodford Reserve — $61
  • Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit — $67

Wayne had a few minutes to mention some facts about the bottles. He said the Knob Creek is about 13-and-a-half years old, the Elijah Craig is almost 12 years old, and that Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris actually helped his team pick the blend for the barrel-pick Woodford.

There you have it. If you’re looking to beef up your bourbon, I’d go sooner rather than later.

Butchertown Grocery’s picks

I found a list online courtesy of Butchertown Grocery, and I believe these are all available now for purchase at the Butchertown Grocery Bakery on East Main Street.

  • Maker’s Mark — $70
  • Elijah Craig (9 years old) — $45
  • Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit — $65
  • Dickel 11 Year — $60
  • New Riff — $50
  • Peerless — $55
  • Peerless Rye — $75
  • Peerless “Ryediculous” — $22 (200 ml)
  • Knob Creek (15 Year) — $60
  • Knob Creek (10 Year) — $50
  • Knob Creek Rye — $45
  • Four Roses — $55
  • Eagle Rare — $75
  • Willett Rye — $150

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