The Best Double-Barrel American Whiskeys Of 2023

From a fruit-forward expression from Metallica’s Blackened label to a whiskey collab with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s estate.

(Left: Blackened, Middle: Rabbit Hole, Right: WhistlePig)

So far this week we’ve covered the best in rye and American single malts for 2023, crowning two best-in-category bottles along the way. Today we turn our attention to double barrels, or second finishes, one of the more interesting and diverse ways whiskey magicians can play with their spells—tweaking flavor notes with a bit of port wood here, or some months in extra añejo tequila casks there. As these experimentation methods advance, truly innovative distillers are imagining even more creative barrels to modify flavors with—including some entries below where we find barrels that held oolong tea, ginja berry liquor, maple syrup and more. 

Best Double-Barrel of 2023: Rabbit Hole ‘Dareringer’ Founder’s Collection

(Rabbit Hole)

The latest incarnation of Rabbit Hole’s highly coveted Founder’s Collection is the whiskey equivalent of a long walk in the woods. Those woods being, specifically, the Pedro Ximénez sherry casks in which founder Kaveh Zamanian aged his impeccably crafted whiskey: a 60-year-old American white oak with historic provenance.

For six decades this wood held and aged a succession of PX sherry, brandy and sherry wines, soaking in complex flavors that would one day be used by Zamanian to age what would become his fourth Founder’s Collection. The barrels, coopered by the Cabello family of the Casknolia Cooperage in Córdoba, Spain, bid their time in the houses of three of Spain’s most venerable and revered vintners.

So Zamanian took his wheated Dareringer Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (65% corn / 25% wheat / 10% malted barley mashbill) and poured it into 10 casks of this venerable seasoned wood for an additional month to add a wave of rich PX sherry influence. We tried some of this mighty magical stuff at Tales of the Cocktail over the summer, and it was not only one of our favorite spirits at TOTC but one of the best whiskeys of the year: coated your mouth like sautéed butter, overflowing with flavors of honey and creme brûlée. Amazing stuff if you can find it.

Boxed in wood with the signature rabbit engraved on magnetic front and back panels, only 2,444 sequentially-numbered bottles of Rabbit Hole “Dareringer” Founder’s Collection are being released with an SRP of $295.

2XO ‘The Phoenix Blend’ Bourbon


Dixon Dedman made his name in the whiskey world resurrecting the Kentucky Owl label in 2014, sourcing award-winning juice and selling it only in Kentucky. It grew like wildfire, Stoli came in and invested, and soon Dedman moved on to new endeavors. To whit he introduces his new label 2XO (aka “Two Times Oak”) — a literal explanation of its ethos, which will be to use double-barrel bourbons in every expression. His first, aptly dubbed 2XO The Phoenix Blend, looked to mirror the path he walked with Kentucky Owl in crafting a coveted, immaculately blended bourbon. As Dedman told us: “That’s my jam—blending.”

He starts with two bourbons from different distilleries, each with different mash bills: the first a very high rye mash bill architected by renowned whiskey genius Jim Rutledge, the other with more moderate rye count—blended and then re-barreled into new charred American oak barrels to highlight traditional bourbon flavors like caramel, vanilla and red apple. The Phoenix Blend excels sensually with its deep amber color, oily mouthfeel and bulls-eye bourbon notes. $100.

Great Jones x Jean Michel Basquiat Pineau de Charentes Wine Cask Finished Bourbon

(Great Jones)

Being the first legal distillery in Manhattan since Prohibition, Great Jones Distilling Co. takes great pride in its NYC roots. So while it’s not surprising they’d want to collaborate with the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the city’s—and 20th century’s—greatest artists. Basquiat’s estate lends his work to three bottles of Great Jones Straight Bourbon, one each with his famed “Pez Dispenser” Dinosaur, Skull (“Untitled, 1982”) and Crown (“Untitled, 1982”).

Great Jones started with their signature mash bill of locally-grown New York rye, malted barley and corn, aged no less than seven years, then finished the juice in Pineau de Charentes casks—a rare fortified wine that blends fresh-pressed grape juice with Cognac eau-de-vie. The wine-soaked wood lends Great Jones’ bourbon autumnal flavors of red apple, cinnamon and allspice. With a price point of only $45, these bourbons might also be the most affordable thing you’ll likely ever find featuring Basquiat’s artwork.

Blackened x Rabbit Hole ‘Masters of Whiskey Series’ Bourbon Finished in Calvados Casks


Blackened Master Distiller and Blender, Rob Dietrich, and the Metallica boys team up with Kaveh Zamanian and his Rabbit Hole crew to create the latest in Blackened’s “Masters of Whiskey Series.” The project began with a sourced 13-year-old straight Tennessee bourbon (64% corn / 36% rye) married with Zamanian’s own Rabbit Hole Heigold High Rye Double Malt Kentucky Straight bourbon (70% corn / 25% malted rye / 5% malted barley). 

The blend was then finished in ex-Calvados casks, adding particular notes (e.g. ripe pear, cinnamon, field clover, honey and black walnut) that appealed to Dietrich and Zamanian, both known for their out-of-the-box thinking and eagerness to explore new territories in flavor. Since it’s a Blackened release the Calvados casks were blasted with Metallica tracks while resting to instigate sonic-enhancement, aka dynamic aging from the heavy vibes (and soundwaves).

Blackened x Rabbit Hole “Masters of Whiskey Series” Bourbon Finished in Calvados Casks was then bottled at cask strength, non-chill filtered of course, with an SRP of $160.

As experimentations advance, innovative distillers are imagining even more creative barrels to modify flavors with.

Breckenridge Distillery ‘Pedro Ximenez’ Bourbon

(Breckenridge Distillery)

Recognized as the “World’s Highest Distillery” (located some 9,600 feet up in the Rockies), Colorado’s own Breckenridge Distillery is best known for its bourbon—a four-time World Whiskies Awards “Best American Blended” winner (2016 through 2019), and the IWSC’s Bourbon of the Year in 2011.

For 2023 Breckenridge dropped a duo of new cask-finished experiments: one soaking up the wood of their own aged Colorado Rum casks, the other centuries-old Spanish solera Pedro Ximenez barrels. While the rum had its moment, the Breckenridge Distillery “Pedro Ximenez” Bourbon bottled at 45% ABV continues the Colorado distillery’s excellence in bourbon experimentations. $60.

Woodinville ‘Ginja’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey 


Ever year Woodinville drops a blazingly popular “Harvest Release”—a distillery-only whiskey sold only from the shelves of their Woodinville Tasting Room. Launched in November of 2011, the annual release has become a high holiday for #whiskeynerds everywhere. 

Recent drops include the 2017 Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished with Toasted Applewood Staves, and more recently their 2021 Harvest Release bourbon finished in 200-gallon Moscatel De Setúbal barrels—a rare fortified wine produced in Portugal’s Setúbal Peninsula.

Now for 2023 the Washington state distillery—named “Craft Whiskey of the Year” by the American Distilling Institute—gets even freakier. Starting with their flagship bourbon (72% corn / 22% rye / 6% malted barley), always aged a minimum of five years, they then dump the juice into ultra-rare freshly emptied ginjinha barrels. A Portuguese liquor made of sour cherries called ginja berries, unsurprisingly the ginjinha barrels adds strong notes of boysenberry jam and dark cherry along with cinnamon to the overall palate. 

While you could only find the “Ginja” Straight Bourbon at the official Woodinville Tasting Room in Washington state, it sold out instantly so you’ll have to scour the gray market for this rare find.

J Henry & Sons Wisconsin Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In Maple Syrup Barrels

(J Henry & Sons)

A couple things make J Henry’s one of the more unique whiskeys out there—the most fundamental arguably being their chosen strain of corn: an heirloom red first grown by Joe Henry’s father on their small family farm in Dane, Wisconsin, way back in the 1940s. That strain was thought to be extinct until they found out UW-Madison had preserved it, so the family reintroduced it to their soil—where the Henrys also grow all their own rye and wheat.

The family’s 5-Year Bourbon is the flagship brown, but Joe, Liz and sons also do a great job of experimenting with second cask finishes—such as with their La Flamme Reserve from a couple years back, a blend of their five- and six-year-old whiskey finished for 13 months in Armagnac casks. Now the fam are back at it, this time finishing their Wisconsin Straight Bourbon (64% J Henry heirloom red corn / 14% spooner rye / 14% winter wheat / 8% malted barley) in barrels they had previously lent maple syrup producers they partnered with from Wisconsin’s Northwoods. 

So the maple farmers got ex-bourbon barrels to age their syrup, and J Henry & Sons received in return pure maple-soaked wood to influence their whiskey—a win-win. “That process helps to impart that delicious maple flavor into the wood,” Head Blender Joe Z Henry (one of the Sons) explains. “Then we finished select barrels of bourbon in these maple bourbon casks, infusing the rich sweetness of pure Wisconsin maple syrup into our luxurious, Wisconsin bourbon whiskey.” Prices vary.

WhistlePig x Alfa Romeo F1 Team Wind Tunnel-Trialed Rye Whiskey


WhistlePig’s collaboration with Alfa Romeo’s F1 team was a project we could not ignore. The efficiently named WhistlePig x Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Wind Tunnel-Trialed Rye Whiskey incorporates elements inspired from both of Alfa F1’s drivers. First, it tips a cap to the sport’s first Chinese F1 driver, Zhou Guanyu, by finishing the rye in barrels seasoned with two very unique Asian-inspired elements: lychee and oolong tea. Second, WhistlePig then bottled the stuff at 96.77 proof, a reference to superb Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas’ “77” racing number.

But the most eye-catching nod to the apex motorsport is the fact WhistlePig ran barrels in the same Alfa Romeo F1 team’s wind tunnel in Hinwil, Switzerland where they test their C43 racecar. Select barrels filled with whiskey then “endured varying levels of g-forces at the WhistlePig farm and distillery” for the final touch. How exactly was this accomplished, you may be wondering? According to WhistlePig, by “rolling a barrel through the rye fields, tying it to the back of a tractor while doing donuts around the farm, and racing it around on the back of a barrel-mobile.” Sounds like a fun weekend in Shoreham, Vermont.

Much like their Roadstock Rye we covered exactly two years ago—a rye that criss-crossed America twice, traveling 6,000 miles in WhistlePig’s Rolling Rickhouse semi-truck—it seems the WhistlePig team share a soft spot for #hooniganism. Whether it’s doing donuts in a whiskey-fueled Hellcat or rolling barrels through their rye fields for dynamic aging, WhistlePig clearly gets a lot of thrills from burnt rubber. $50.

Chicken Cock ‘Red Stave’ Bourbon

(Chicken Cock)

Relaunched in 2012 under the watchful eye of Master Distiller Gregg Snyder, Chicken Cock is a whiskey maker with roots that date all the way back to 1856 in Paris, Kentucky. They craft a great core Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Straight Rye via a collaborative distilling program with Bardstown Bourbon Company, and then make some fun LTOs with their creative finishing program. Last year’s Island Rooster Rum Barrel Rye finished their rye in Caribbean rum casks. Now, new for 2023, Chicken Cock took their aforementioned bourbon and poured it into J. Wilkes Petite Sirah barrels sourced from the Miller Family Wine Company.

Aptly dubbed Chicken Cock Red Stave Bourbon, the Petite Sirah crafted in the storied California winemaking region of the Paso Robles Highlands is among Cali’s most famous. The second finishing allows the wine-soaked wood to gift Chicken Cock’s Bourbon both a crimson tint on top of a plum and cherry flavor influence. Chicken Cock “Red Stave” Bourbon comes bottled at 51.2% ABV (102.4 proof) with a $200 SRP.

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels 2023

(Angel’s Envy)

For a dozen straight years, Angel’s Envy has released a thirstily anticipated Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels, much to the joy of discriminating bourbon fans worldwide. While this happens annually, each year’s expression is a unique vintage, meaning Angel’s Envy aficionados will hunt them to extinction. New for 2023 the Louisville, Kentucky distillery added their first-ever limited-edition Straight Rye Whiskey captured at cask strength, aged in both Sauternes and toasted oak barrels.

Their Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels continues Angel’s Envy’s proud bourbon and port heritage by once again hand-picking the very best honey barrels from their rick houses and adding an extra (and unspecified) maturation in barrels imported from Portugal. For 2023 all 22,656 bottles of the bourbon come bottled at 59.1% ABV (118.2-proof). While each expression is different year-to-year, they all share one thing in common: accolades. 2022’s release captured Platinum and Innovation Awards from the SIP Awards, Double Gold from SFWSC and Gold at the ASCOT Awards. Prices vary.

Garrison Brothers Guadalupe 2023 Port Cask Finished Bourbon

(Garrison Brothers)

We’ve sung the praises of Garrison Brothers many a time on these pages, and there’s good reason. Outside of Kentucky, Texas has an argument to producing some of the best whiskeys in America—and Garrison Brothers  continuously aim to be amongst the best. They’ve made a big impression by focusing on LTOs like Balmorhea, Laguna Madre and HoneyDew to keep fans lining up at their Hye distillery, and now you can add Guadalupe to the list.

Last year’s inaugural expression scored Double Gold, Best of Class and Best Straight Bourbon at the 2022 Craft Distillers Competition; Gold at the 2022 International Spirits Competition; Double Gold at the 2022 New York International Spirits Competition and many more awards. This year should be as acclaimed, as Garrison Bros founder Dan Garrison and his Master Distiller Donnis Todd have perfected their Guadalupe formula: Start with their award winning bourbon (a sweet mash of food-grade corn, local soft red winter wheat and two-row barley), age it four years in white American oak casks, and then follow that up with two more years in Portugal-sourced tawny port casks. Done and done. 

Garrison and Todd think of Guadalupe as a dessert bourbon—its notes of strawberry preserve, ripe plums, honey and blueberry complementing your favorite post-dinner indulgence. Only a little over 15,000 bottles were released after their initial sold-out distillery sale, with an SRP of $150

15 Stars ‘Sherry Cask Finish’ Bourbon

(15 Stars)

Father/son 15 Stars founders Rick and Ricky Johnson came out of the gate with the top-shelf Timeless Reserve, a 14-year old whiskey that immediately grabbed bourbon aficionados’ attention. For their second release they blended in some slightly younger (seven-year) bourbon and proofed down just to make their juice more affordable. 

This year they push the aging back up with their Sherry Cask Finish. They take twin bourbons, aged 13 and 10 years, marry them and then finish the blend in casks that held sherry wine. As they named their label after Kentucky (the 15th American state, therefore the 15th star on the flag), it’s clear the Johnson clan wants to do their home state proud. They’ve been awarded in kind, scoring Best Bourbon of 2023, Best Finished Bourbon of 2023, and Double Gold at the 2023 NYWSC with this expression. As always proofed for flavor (57.5% ABV), 15 Stars “Sherry Cask Finish” Bourbon lands with a $180 SRP

Michter’s Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash Bourbon


Michter’s “Sour Mash” labeling is a bit confusing, as almost all whiskeys on the market are made with sour mash (as sweet mash requires a lot more labor with different taste profiles). Still, it’s an homage to the renowned Sour Mash of the first iteration of Michter’s before it was revived in the late 90s.

What sets this expression apart is Michter’s use of a toasted barrels— never charred like most barrels, air-dried for over a year and a half then toasted—to finish the aging. While the beloved Kentucky distillery has been experimenting with such barrels since 2014, they’ve only once publicly released a Toasted Barrel Finish Sour Mash bottle, and that was back in 2019. The 2022 vintage which dropped late last year might become even more popular, as the toasted barrels add eucalyptus, toasted almond and a touch of oak notes to Michter’s signature vanilla, butterscotch and toffee base. Expect to pay triple the $100 SRP

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.