One of the benefits of picking your own barrel is actually taking possession of the barrel if you choose. I've done that twice with two of our Four Roses picks back 2-3 years ago. One local member of our bourbon club took possession of one of our BT Old Weller Antique barrels. Collectively we decided to use the barrel for a re-fill project.
There were 7 of us that contributed 48.3 gallons of bourbon from our collective bunkers. The contributed bottles consisted of a broad selection of labels to include; Willett Family Estate Single Barrel, paper label Weller Special Reserve, Weller 12 (raised wheat!), Evan Williams BIB, Very Old Barton BIB, 1969 Old Crow 10 year, EWSB, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Bourbon Hollow and many many others totaling 243 750ml bottles. Point is, this was a cornucopia dump of pretty much anything. The proof average after fill was 97.2 and the barrel sat in a garage over the course of 3 1/2 years.
After one month in the barrel we gathered together to taste and were sorely disappointed. It wasn't that good and the whiskey was way out of balance. As time progressed we would gather and taste and agreed that time was smoothing out the rough edges and doing good things to the melding process. July of 2014 we congregated around the barrel and pulled a sample to try. We were pleased with the results as the whiskey had good flavor, good balance and had actually increased in proof by 8.9 points to 106.1. We decided to let it rest for a little while longer thinking it couldn't hurt.
Last November we again pulled a sample from the barrel and hit jackpot. The whiskey was full bodied, minimal heat and the flavor profile consisted of huge amounts of caramel and chocolate with a strong oak backbone; it was unanimous, time to dump the barrel.
This last Sunday, January 3rd, we arrived with boxes of empty bottles. Using a small pump and two filling stations, we proceeded to pull the whiskey from the barrel and fill bottles. We had a pretty good system going on as two members kept empty bottles rotated on the table, two members filling the bottles and one member capping the bottles and moving them into boxes. In the course of about 30-40 mins we filled the equivalent of 176 750ml bottles. Final proof out of the barrel was between 104-105. This was a fun project and very interesting to witness how the whiskey changed with time and thankfully for the better. I came home with fifteen 750ml bottles from an original contribution of twenty. After dumping the barrel we enjoyed a lunch of smoked corned beef brisket and then finished off the afternoon with various whiskey's and 2003 Montecristo Edicion Limitada cigars. Life is good.