Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon

Huber’s Farm is a special place in Kentuckiana. If you’ve never seen that portmanteau before, “Kentuckiana” is the nickname for the geographical region comprised of the Louisville (Kentucky) area and Southern Indiana. Although this region includes a full range of urban and rural living, one certainty is that everyone knows about Huber’s Family Farm.

Every year, as the leaves start to turn and the harsh humidity of summer fades, residents of Kentuckiana make the sacred pilgrimage to the Huber’s property. Be it to their family restaurant for comforting southern classics, the orchards for prime apple-picking, or most often, the family-favorite pumpkin patch for the perfect gourds to adorn our porches, most of us find a way to make the trip to Starlight, Indiana as an essential part of the autumn season.

As my family and I visited this year, I lamented that I’ve still never made the time to tour the (previously) lesser-known part of the Huber’s family business: Starlight Distillery. Most locals know of the cider and wine offerings sourced from the orchard and vineyard on the farm, but the distillery still seems to be a hidden gem.

Determined and curious, I found some time on an October weekday to pop in for a visit. The problem: as I mentioned, Huber’s is an essential stop for everyone here, and I’d wager this season pays the bills for the entire year. As a result, Starlight Distillery simply doesn’t do tours in October. I was relegated to a visit to their tasting room to see what I could find.

Before this visit, my only other experience with Starlight’s bourbon was a gifted bottle shortly after they opened, and it was so bad I couldn’t finish a single glass. I went with full intention to see what’s changed now that the distillery has started growing in both their inventive offerings and their fanhood. For the unfamiliar, Starlight has gained notoriety for its expansive line of expressions, often using interesting finishing barrels such as blueberry port barrels, vino de naranja barrels, or Amburana casks.

If anyone makes the trip, the tasting room is a great deal: five samples of whatever bourbon, rye, or other spirits they have running at the time for $15. That price, combined with the fact that the whiskeys are on rotation, it would be an easy decision to visit often. Of the five samples, I enjoyed two of them enough to buy a bottle of each and bring them home. Today’s review is of the only unfinished whiskey I tasted, a single barrel expression of their bourbon, selected by one of their Master Distillers.

The label on the bottle simply displays the title “Single Barrel” where the other expression names are typically adorned. A review of the spirit offerings on their website indicates that this may not be a standalone expression. In light of that – as well as my conversation with the folks in their tasing room – I’m comfortable assuming that this is simply a single barrel of their standard bourbon offering, which is called “Carl T Bourbon,” named after the grandfather of
sixth generation owners Greg and Ted Huber.

With that in mind, this single barrel selection appears to be a four-year Indiana Straight bourbon using a blend of three- and four-grain mash bills. According to the sheet provided from the tasting experience, “both mash bills are sweet, high in rye and malted barley. Corn varies from 51% to 59% and wheat rounds out the four grains. Aged in charred, American oak barrels from four different cooperages companies and different barrel styles adds quality and complexity to this signature blend.” This barrel pick in particular was bottled at 113.8 proof and I paid around $50 (versus $34.99 for the typical Carl T) for it at the Distillery shop.

With opportunity to taste this again in my own home, I’m excited to see if this still feels like a worthy purchase. With all the effort they put into cask-finishing products, is the bourbon decent enough to stand on its own?

Starlight Distillery Single Barrel Bourbon – Review

Color: Maple syrup. (Bonus: very noticeable “legs” which I take to mean it will be nice and oily, something I personally enjoy)

On the nose: Brown sugar, maple nut candy, cherry, honey, corn, and a slight ethanol-driven burn. Secondary nosing finds a fruity-floral note that hovers between lemon and potpourri, but it’s minor.

In the mouth: Immediately, I’m surprised by the reaction going on in the front of my palate. For those familiar with the “Kentucky Chew,” this may be the chewiest bourbon I’ve ever experienced. The cherry from the nose continues with new flavors of leather, oak, and vanilla. The back end reminds me of a dry red wine. It’s got a little heat that feels just a little hotter than the proof listed on the bottle, but I tend to enjoy that characteristic. The finish stays up high and keeps the palate coated for a surprising amount of time.


This exceeded my expectations when I tried it at the distillery, and it seems to have held up outside of the influence of the tasting room environment. As only my second experience with Starlight bourbon: this is such a complete turnaround, impressive enough to motivate me to completely change my perspective on this distillery and what they have to offer. I’m drawn to the texture more than anything else; I think it contributes to the perception of a higher proof than it is and – while that appeals to my taste – it seems worth mentioning to any readers that may consider something in this proof range to be too hot for their palate.

With price as a factor and what feels like an excellent value for a bourbon with a unique texture, this was a clear choice. I can easily see the appeal of how different cask finishes might work with this particular bourbon. Knowing that I’ll visit Huber’s each fall, I will gladly look forward to buying this bottle every year.

Score: 7/10

(Photo credit: Corey’s wife)


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