The folks at Barrell Craft Spirits have been on helluva hot streak lately. I might even argue it’s some of the best bourbon I’ve tasted this year. Since the release of batch 005, every new batch of bourbon has managed to maintain an extremely high level of quality. Each batch is different, whether it be age, source or where in the rickhouse it matured, but all delicious in their own way. Company founder Joe Beatrice has a refined palate when it comes to sourcing his whiskey, and a knack for picking interesting barrels. The two latest batches should be on shelves now.
The oldest bourbon released from Barrell Craft Spirits, Barrell Bourbon batch 009 matured for 13 years. Like the last few previously released batches, batch 009 was distilled in Tennessee and aged in Tennessee and Kentucky. It’s bottled at cask strength, coming in at a surprisingly lower proof than expected for such an older bourbon – 112.1 proof. The mashbill is a bit different this time: 75% corn, 18% rye and 7% malted barley.
Batch 010, on the other hand, has been all over the place. It was distilled in Indiana. I’ll give you three guesses as to which distillery in Indiana produced this, but you’ll only need one. The whiskey was then aged in Michigan, ending its journey in Kentucky, where it was crafted and bottled at a healthy 122 proof. Batch 010 is 8 years old and is made from a slightly different mashbill than batch 009: 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley.
How do they taste?
Batch 009 is starting to show its age. The nose features toasted oak, coconut macaroons, and burnt caramel, with some vanilla bean and anise on the backend. Flavor-wise, it’s a nice example of a mellow, rounded bourbon with notes of caramel-drizzled vanilla cream, toasted grain, dried basil and some spice. Oak is also a big player on the palate, but I won’t call this one overoaked. Batch 009 has a rich creamy mouthfeel. The finish carries some sweet notes with some baking spices. 8.5/10
Where Batch 009 was a bit laid back, the younger Batch 010 comes across as robust. There’s cinnamon, rubbing alcohol, stewed fruits, some dill (I only seem to get a dill note in MGP whiskies), lime zest, and brown sugar on the nose. The palate is full of candied fruits, freshly squeezed lime, caramel chews, dark chocolate and pecan cookies. There’s that slight bit of nuttiness. The second time I tasted this one the lime played a more prominent note, and I don’t remember ever tasting lime in bourbon before. The finish is not as long as I’d like, but has sweet citrus and spice notes. 8.5/10
So, how would I compare them? Batch 009 is a refined, classic, well-aged bourbon. But… Batch 010 is the more exciting one. It’s got more interesting flavors. Not that one is better than the other. They are just two completely different, well-crafted whiskies, and you really can’t go wrong with either.
Thanks to Barrell Bourbon for the samples. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.