While buying spirit by the barrel isn’t a new practice in the industry, the customer profile has changed over the years—today, it is individual customers who are fuelling the boom in the purchasing of whole casks. Wild Turkey, a Kentucky bourbon producer with roots in the mid-1800s, had already begun selling a few casks in the early 2000s, but formalised its main Private Barrel programme in 2013. Now, its dedicated APAC program offers unique options from dedicated unicorn barrels, with different taste profiles for the buyers to choose from. To find out more, Tatler chats with Wild Turkey’s master distiller Eddie Russell, son of distilling legend Jimmy Russell and a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
Bourbon has been booming since the 1990s. What do you think is driving this trend in Asia and globally?
Eddie Russell (ER): Asia has always had refined tastes for whiskies. Throughout the world, the bartending community is bringing back very traditional bourbon‑based cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned.
Bourbon already has a strong collector base. What makes private bottlings so distinctive and exciting?
ER: All private barrels have different profiles, giving consumers a broad range of unique flavours as well as a chance to taste and collect different tasting bottles. They are limited by how many bottles each barrel yields, which increases their rarity and subsequent value.