Barrell Bourbon

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

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

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Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 15-Year-Old Bourbon

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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.

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 016

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Since my first sip of Batch 005, I’ve enjoyed following the whiskey journey that Barrell takes me on.  They aren’t concerned with consistency of flavors between batches.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Every batch is different.  Flavor profile, age, proof… it changes with every release.

For Batch 016, straight bourbon whiskies from Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky were batched together, with the youngest being 9 years 9 months old.  Barrels that were 11 and 15-years-old were also used in the blend.  As always, Barrell bourbon releases are bottled at cask strength.  Here it’s 105.8 proof.

This batch is very fruit forward.  It’s quite evident on the nose, with hints of orange peel, fresh apricots, and apple jam.  A sprinkling of spice and oak add a little oomph.  Even though this is cask strength, there is no need to add water.  I find the 105.8 proof perfectly drinkable.  Taste-wise, hints of key lime pie and orange marmalade paint a picture of sweet and sour.  Toffee, oak spice, and dark roasted coffee (reminds me of Starbucks Cafe Verona blend) round things out.  The finish is warm and sticks around a while, with lingering notes of macerated berries and mineral water.

Thumbs up here.  I really like the roundness of the whiskey as much as I enjoy the big fruit notes showcased.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is another beautiful blend by Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Head Distiller Tripp Stimson.  Keep it going, fellas.  Recommended! 8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

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

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