Coffee and whisky make a pleasing pair, serving up some complementary flavors and aromas. The popularity of the two together has also become evident in the way roasters and distillers have joined forces on whisky-flavored coffees and coffee-infused whiskies. But there’s yet another way that coffee and whisky lovers can get their fix: barrel-aged coffees.
Coffee roasters big and small are turning to whisky distillers for used barrels to age their beans. “When we tried aging them in barrels for the first time, I was shocked that the end result was so interesting and balanced,” says Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. founder Mané Alves. “I thought the whisky flavor would overwhelm the coffee, but it was wonderful. It had the nuances of the whisky but none of the alcohol.”
Even more so than other types of whisky-flavored coffee—which can be infused or feature artificial flavoring—barrel-aged variants are oftentimes deeply reminiscent of the whiskies they share ties with, imparting rich vanilla and caramel flavors, and packing a heavy aromatic punch. Rest assured, though: You can drink these upon waking, as the roasting process takes all of the alcohol out of the beans.
These Beans Come With A Hint of Whiskey
Coffee Junkie Crown Royal Barrel Aged—$15/8 oz.
These single origin beans were aged in barrels that the roaster wet with Crown Royal whisky—the barrels did not come directly from the brand, as the others on this list did. Once roasted, the coffee takes on hints of oak and whisky from the barrel, as well as plenty of warm baking spices.
Doma Whiskey Barrel Aged—$27.50/12 oz.
Doma Roasting Co. uses Brazilian yellow bourbon, catuai, and acaia coffee beans and ages them in seasoned barrels from Spokane, Washington-based Dry Fly Distilling. The barrels once held the distillery’s oat whiskey, delivering flavors of molasses, vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. A muted acidity is balanced by pleasant sweetness and a thick body.
Cooper’s Cask Single Malt Whiskey Barrel Aged—$30/12 oz.
This Rhode Island-based coffee roaster puts its single-origin Sumatra Lintong coffee beans in barrels that once held Sons of Liberty Uprising American single alt. The beans then get a medium-dark roast, adding to the intensity of the coffee’s flavor, which is rooted in woody earthiness, tobacco, tropical fruits, and caramel.
Oak & Bond Coffee Co. Scotch Whisky Barrel Aged—$25/10 oz.
Scotch whisky barrels sourced from a variety of distillers were used to age 100% arabica coffee beans. The barrels once held both peated and unpeated single malt scotches, imparting the coffee with some sweet fruitiness, as well as milk chocolate, honey, and raspberry flavors.
Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel Aged—$22/12 oz.
This coffee is the result of a partnership between Louisville-based wholesale coffee roaster Gold Folks Coffee and Pappy & Company, a bourbon-inspired retail and culinary brand owned by the famed Van Winkle bourbon family. It starts with small batch, single-origin Guatemalan beans, which are then aged in Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels, resulting in bold wood flavors and a strong but palatable sweetness.
Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co. WhistlePig Barrel Aged—$21/12 oz.
These medium-roast South American coffee beans were aged for several months in WhistlePig Boss Hog straight rye barrels. The resulting coffee takes on peppery, fruity flavors, which are akin to those found in the whiskey. Notes of brown sugar and cardamom abound.