The last several batches of Barrell Bourbon have lived in the 9 to 11 year range. Their latest, Batch 022, is a blend of 5-year-old straight bourbon whiskies distilled and aged in Kentucky and Indiana and bottled at cask strength (116.6 proof). In fact, the last release this young was batch 013.
The Kentucky barrels utilized here bring a dry, woody character to the final blend. In contrast, the Indiana barrels added floral, herbaceous, and sweet notes.
Sweet orange aromas steer the nose on this batch, along with hints of gin botanicals, vanilla, caramel, and apricot. The palate features a creamy mouthfeel flavored by notes of orange blossom honey, cola, caramel, and a certain grassiness. The medium, sweet, and slightly dry finish features a distinct, lingering cinnamon candy note.
Batch 022 comes across as lively and aromatic. The rye grain in the mash bill brings about an almost barrel-aged gin quality on the nose. The folks behind Barrell Bourbon are always looking to present something interesting in each batch, and they’ve certainly achieved their goal here. Barrell Bourbon Batch 022 is a tasty reminder that the bourbon flavor profile can certainly be expanded upon. Plus, it’s exquisite when used in an Old Fashioned. Recommended.
Barrell Bourbon batch 021 comes to us as a blend of 10-14-year-old straight bourbon whiskies distilled and aged in Tennessee and Kentucky. The 10-year-old barrels used in this batch featured an oak-forward character. Eighteen 14-year-old barrels were added to bring a bit of balance to the final blend. The resulting batch comes in at 106.34 proof (53.17% abv).
The nose starts with a big butterscotch note soon accompanied by hints of English breakfast tea, spice, and ripe berries, with a tinge of lemon peel. It’s deep but lively. On the palate, dark berries mingle with vanilla and molasses. Spices build but don’t overpower. The long, dry finish features oak tannins, leather, and dried fruit.
The webpage for this batch mentions it’s a “wonderfully autumnal bourbon, built on a dry toasty backbone with hints of butter and fruit layered in for complexity and contrast.” The description is spot on. I can easily imagine sipping on this batch of Barrell Bourbon in front of a fire on a cool night. It feels like it was designed for precisely this time of year. Another appetizing release from the meticulous minds at Barrell Craft Spirits. Highly recommended.
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