The folks behind the always interesting Barrell Bourbon have launched a new high-end, limited release line – Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS). The initial release consists of a 25-year-old American whiskey finished in Sercial Madeira casks, a 13-year-old rum, and a 15-year-old bourbon.
The latter is a batching of bourbon from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Like all releases from the company, BCS bourbon is bottled at cask strength. In this case, that 105.1 proof. At 15-years-old, BCS bourbon is the oldest bourbon released by the company since Barrell Bourbon batch 009, which was aged 13 years.
BCS founder Joe Beatrice and Master Distiller Tripp Stimson constantly blend their whiskies until they find something interesting. Every batch of their bourbon I’ve tasted has been a journey into their mindset, so to speak. For BCS 15-year-old bourbon, the words “rich and refined” seem to have dominated their thoughts.
The nose features a cornucopia of aromas: ripe fruits, specifically bananas & cherries, baking spice, brown sugar & molasses, toasted oak, leather, and sweet tobacco. On the palate, a sweet burst of brown sugar and creamy caramel is complemented by dark chocolate-covered cherries, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon stick. There’s a richness here that comes across as a fruit-topped custard. An underlying old oak note adds some complexity. Hints of leather, cocoa, and barrel char arrive on the back palate. The long, dry finish sees butterscotch, spice, and a hint of scorched black cherries.
This is hands down one of the most complex bourbons I’ve sampled in quite a while. At 15-years-old, the whiskey’s oak notes provide a solid base to elevate the other flavors instead of overpowering. Throughout the development of flavors, BCS bourbon manages to remain well-balanced. That is something both Beatrice and Stimson aim for in each batch. I can see why Fred Minnick named this the Best American Whiskey of 2018. While everyone is clamoring for Pappy Van Winkle or the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, the smart play is to seek this bourbon out. My initial thought still stands – this bourbon is stunning. 9.5/10
Thanks to Barrel Craft Spirits for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.