Barrell Craft Spirits

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 25-Year-Old Whiskey

As part of its one-two-three punch of initial releases, Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS) has unveiled a marvelous 15-year-old bourbon, 13-year-old rum, and this 25-year-old American whiskey.  A quarter of a century is a helluva long time to age whiskey here in the U.S.  It’s quite rare, in fact.  And of those releases that do carry such a high age statement, even fewer are not dominated by oak.

BCS bottles everything at cask strength, non-colored, and non-chill filtered.  The company believes it’s the best way to present a spirit.  I don’t disagree.  This whiskey was distilled and aged in Indiana.  It’s American whiskey and not bourbon, which could mean used casks have been used for maturation or the mash bill wasn’t at least 51% corn.  The truth is we don’t know because BCS didn’t divulge that information.  They did say that after 25 years of aging, the whiskey was finished in Sercial Madeira casks.

First releases mean first impressions, and the bar by which the label will be judged by in the future.  How does BCS 25-year-old whiskey fare in the glass?  Unsurprisingly, quite well.

The nose carries hints of toasted oak, vibrant red fruit, spice, roasted almonds, and dark chocolate.  Some air reveals a bit of dark caramel.  At 111.2 proof, it doesn’t need much water, if any.  A burst of molasses is quickly joined by lime juice, toasted marshmallow, vanilla pod and sweet red fruit.  Baking spices develop, as does leather and oak, which begins drying the back palate.  The long, warming, and slightly dry finish leaves behind candied fruit, dark chocolate, and old oak.

The Madeira cask finish really brightens things up.  The sweet, vibrant fruit plays well with the heavier oak and spice notes.  We could have easily ended up with another oak-dominated, ultra-aged whiskey.  Instead, BCS 25-year-old whiskey presents a profile much more balanced than expected.  Nicely done.  8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample.  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.