Barrell Bourbon

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 018

Barrell Craft Spirits is sort of the whiskey equivalent of an independent filmmaker. Neither are working within the traditional confines of their industry. For example, an independent filmmaker can make their film without having to ‘dumb down’ for mass audiences with explosions, quick cutting, etc. They just focus on the story they want to tell, and how they want to tell it. On the whiskey side of things, big brands prize consistency within each batch of their whiskey. Barrell Craft Spirits, on the other hand, basks in the freedom to showcase a different flavor profile in each batch they release.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 018 is blended from 11-, 14-, and 15-year-old bourbon distilled in Kentucky and Tennessee. The resulting whiskey is bottled at a cask strength of 111.56 proof.

On the nose, this bourbon emphasizes fruit and baking spice. Lots of ripe mango and coconut intermingle with cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. Taste-wise, there’s lots going on here. A wave of sweet fruit juice kicks things off, closely followed by vibrant lemon curd. Those baking spices from the nose soon show up in moderation on the mid-palate before succumbing to a slightly dark coffee note. The long finish is surprisingly earthy with a touch of orange peel.

I like Batch 018’s balance of fruit & spice, and sweetness & earthiness. It’s nicely structured and complex, but above all – it’s just plain delicious. I seem to be saying this often, but Barrell has another mark in the ‘W’ column with this batch. Nicely done. 8.5/10

Barrellbourbon.com

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

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 017

Barrell Bourbon ended 2018 with its last bourbon release of the year – Batch 017. This is a 10 year, 4 month old cask strength bourbon, meaning that’s the age of the youngest whiskey in the batch. However, 14 and 15-year-old barrels were also utilized here. The whiskies used in batch 017 were distilled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.

Barrell calls this batch “an homage to a style of bourbon we love, which has become increasingly hard to find.” If you’re new to Barrell Bourbon, instead of keeping a consistent flavor profile from batch to batch, the company prefers for each batch to be different in style. In fact, it’s part of their motto, “Each batch is unique.” The only consistency between batches is the cask-strength bottling. Batch 017 comes in at 56.25% ABV, or 112.5 proof.

On the nose, warming baking spices mingle with orchard fruit and hints of toasted oak, minerals, and herbs. The palate is rich with initial notes of English toffee, juicy plums, berries, and fresh lime. A bit of charred pineapple arrives late, followed by restrained oak and some spice. The long finish finds lingering notes of fruit juice, mint, flint, and oak.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 017 is a decadent bourbon, wonderfully balancing fruit, spice, oak, and mineral notes. It is both unpretentious in nature and complex in flavor, perfect as a Sunday afternoon pour or an after dinner digestif. I tend to really enjoy Barrell Bourbon releases, but this one stands above the crowd. Liquid gold, even. Seek out a bottle, friends. You will thank me later. 9/10

Barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the review sample, which is a production bottle. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 15-Year-Old Bourbon

BCS Bourbon Solo Photo.jpg

Photo courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits

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

barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrel Craft Spirits for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.