Cruise Line to Roll Out a Barrel of Bourbon Fleetwide

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There’s a barrel of fun coming to Holland America Line’s fleet of cruise ships, thanks to an affiliation with Buffalo Trace Distillery, a renowned Kentucky bourbon producer.

The golden liquid, hand-chosen by cruise line officials, will be offered to guests aboard every Holland America ship starting in March 2024.

Exclusive Liquor Will Be Served in Ocean Bar

Holland America Line, a premium brand of Carnival Corporation, will soon feature a unique blend of bourbon in the Ocean Bar aboard all 11 of its ships, and cruisers can enjoy the liquor neat, on the rocks, or in an Old Fashioned, starting with departures in March.

The special bourbon will be offered as long as supplies last, since the line has just one barrel to share. It all started when Drew Mayville, a Holland America Line enthusiast and master blender for Sazerac, an alcoholic beverage company that owns Buffalo Trace Distillery, invited cruise line officials to attend the Sazerac Barrel Select Program.

The program enables a limited number of potential buyers to sample and then select a barrel of bourbon from the Sazerac collection. It was Mayville and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee Freddie Johnson who curated the bourbon, and then joined Holland America Line officials in the “private barrel selection room” at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

After cruise line officials narrowed their choice to four barrels, Mayville and Johnson led the group in a tasting of the contents of each one. Holland America Line’s representatives selected Barrel #002, which was filled on Dec. 21, 2015. The bourbon won them over with its “intense notes of oak and spice,” and its smooth finish.

Holland America Barrel
Holland America Barrel

We strive to share experiences with our guests that they won’t find anywhere else. Collaborating with Buffalo Trace to craft a signature bourbon has been an incredible journey,said Michael Stendebach, vice president of food, beverage and rooms divisions for Holland America Line.

Following its selection, the barrel’s contents were bottled and are being shipped to the line’s vessels across the globe. Mayville noted that the chosen barrel offers guests something special that they won’t find elsewhere.

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We aimed to select an expressive and distinctive barrel for Holland America Line, confident that their guests would enjoy trying something truly unique to the cruise line,stated Drew Mayville, Sazerac’s master blender.

Holland America Beverage Partnerships

Holland America Line’s announcement of the exclusive bourbon soon to be enjoyed fleetwide hinted that more beverage partnerships are in the offing.

The line recently partnered with bartender Ivy Mix, who is creating a series of drinks for the cruise line, inspired by Mexico and Latin America. It also is serving a special rum punch cocktail, created by mixologist David Wondrich, the well-known cocktail historian and author, on Caribbean cruises.

Holland America Cruise Ship
Holland America Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks)

Holland America Line is not the first cruise line to offer guests exclusive liquors. Oceania Cruises, a brand of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, unveiled a similar program when its newest ship, Vista, entered service in May of 2023.

The line had partnered with Scotland-based Chapter 7 Whisky to make available for sale a 20-year-old, small-batch cask of whisky – a total of just 304 bottles – aboard the ship for her inaugural season in the Mediterranean.

Holland America Line, which marked its 150th anniversary in 2023, made significant strides in its booking levels that year and expects another record-breaking year in 2024.

The line celebrated two major achievements on July 11, 2023, when it broke its single-day booking record and had its highest-ever revenue from bookings in a single day.

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