Review: Barrell Dovetail

Barrell Craft Spirits have taken barrel-finishing to a level rarely seen in the American whiskey category with their new release, Dovetail.  It is a blend of 10-year-old Indiana whiskey finished in Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon casks and 11-year-old Tennessee Whiskey finished in black strap rum casks and vintage port pipes.  The resulting blend is bottled at a cask strength of 61.45% ABV, or 122.9 proof.

Cabernet, rum, and port…  That’s a lot of barrel finishing.  So much so that it could be the reason the TTB wouldn’t allow Barrell to label this a whiskey, hence the Dovetail name.  Whether that’s the case or not, it brings up an interesting topic of discussion – at what point does barrel finishing negate use of the term ‘whiskey’?

Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Master Distiller Tripp Stimson seem to care about releasing an interesting spirit more than they do fitting into a specific category, and that’s not a bad thing.  If anything, Barrell has remained extremely transparent in where they are sourcing barrels, save actual distillery names per non-disclosure agreements.

The duo spent the better part of a year getting Dovetail just right.  The emphasis on quality is not lost.  On the nose, hints of caramelized tropical fruit, ginger, and red fruit meet aromatic vanilla and some flint.  The rum cask sweetness greatly compliments the fruity wine notes.  Taste-wise, the whiskey’s caramel meets the rum cask’s darker molasses, followed by a wave of dark berries, grape jam, cocoa, and herbs.  Wine tannins tighten things on back palate.  Tobacco and spice lead us into the long, complex finish.

Simply put, Dovetail is a delectable adventure in barrel-finishing.  Given the massive array of rum and wine-influence, the whiskey’s base is still present.  The cask finishing is beautifully presented, taking the imbiber on a roller coaster ride of flavors.  Those looking for a fun and interesting dram should definitely seek this out.  Whiskey traditionalists might enjoy this as well, so long as they are open to something a bit different.  Dovetail comes highly recommended.  9/10

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for this production sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


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