Barrell Whiskey

Review: Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project (Feb 12, 2018 bottling)

A number of whiskey enthusiasts are creating infinity bottles. When they have a pour or two of a special whiskey left, they add it to a decanter. They quickly create their own blend, one that’s always changing as new whiskies are added.

Barrell Craft Spirits has embarked on a unique journey with its new Infinite Barrel Project, borrowing from the infinity bottle idea. To start, several different types of whiskies were batched together, including Tennessee whiskey, Tennessee rye, Indiana whiskey (finished in Oloroso Sherry butts), Indiana rye, Polish malted rye (finished in Curoçao barrels), single malt scotch, single grain scotch, and Irish whiskey.

As the company bottles a portion of the batch, new whiskies are added and left for a time to marry. The consumer will see an ever-evolving product, which should be fun to compare.

The first bottling (Feb 12, 2018) comes in at 119.3 proof. The nose is a touch closed off at first, but opens with a little airtime. Orange marmalade and pot still whiskey dominate the nose at first, followed by hints of honey, marzipan and fresh fruit. The palate is rich with fruit cake, baking spices (especially ginger), and toffee. Feint hints of candied orange peel and buttery malt appear mid-palate. The back palate sees bit of oak tannin. The long finish features lingering notes of salted caramel and red pepper.

I had a chance to sample this whiskey with Barrell founder Joe Beatrice and Head Distiller Tripp Stimson at the New Orleans Bourbon Festival earlier this year. I thought it was a unique flavor then, and it has stuck with me these past few weeks. After tasting it again, I have come to appreciate it even more. Barrell Whiskey Infinite Barrel Project stands out as a ‘must try’ whiskey, one that commands your attention upon tasting. And one that you’ll want to compare to future bottlings. Recommended! 9/10

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

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Barrell Whiskey Batch 004 Review

Barrell Craft Spirits founder Joe Beatrice likes having fun with his company’s whiskey releases.  Each batch is different, and each one interesting.  Batch 004 sees an 11-year-old whiskey finished in rum and rye barrels.  The whiskies that went into this blend were distilled in Tennessee and Indiana.  Why just a whiskey and not a bourbon?  It’s because used barrels were utilized for maturation.  To be a bourbon, only new barrels can be considered (in addition to several other criteria).  Transparency is something the company believes in, as they’ve disclosed all of the information above.  What they haven’t mentioned is the mash bill breakdown other than corn, rye, and malted barley were used.

The rum barrels used for secondary maturation were left over from Barrell Rum’s delicious first batch, which just won Best Overproof Rum at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (Barrell Bourbon Batch 011 also won Best Bourbon at the same competition).  Each whiskey from Tennessee and Indiana underwent a secondary maturation in these rum barrels or rye whiskey barrels, resulting in four different combinations.  This batch was blended using various barrels of the finished whiskies.  Barrell Whiskey Batch 004 is bottled at a cask strength of 120.6 proof.

The rum finish is evident on the nose, providing burnt sugar cane and green banana notes to buttered sweet cornbread.  Hints of tropical fruit mingle with caramel chews, vanilla and some spice.  On the palate, this whiskey is…unusual.  Just like the nose, the foundation whiskey provides a great base to let those finishing casks shine, with its notes of corn pudding, vanilla, and baking spice.  The rum casks add green plaintains and sugar cane, while the rye casks provide a slightly sharp spice note along with some herbs.  The long finish is a little hot at first, leaving behind some spiced tropical fruit.

Rum and rye whiskey cask finishes? You know, it mostly works.  The light character imparted by used barrels utilized for the whiskey’s primary maturation leave room for those exotic and spicy flavors and aromas left behind by the secondary maturation.  The only negative is the finish, which is a little rough for me, even with a splash of water.   I’ve said it before, Joe and his team are always looking to release something interesting.  Mission accomplished here.  8.5/10

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

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Review

Barrel Whiskey B2In addition to fantastic bourbons, Joe Beatrice’s Barrell Bourbon company also drops the occasional whiskey on the market.  The difference between the two could be in the makeup of the mash bill (remember, bourbon must be at least 51% corn), but is most likely the use of used barrels.  That’s a no-no for straight bourbon, which has to be aged in new barrels.  So we have whiskey.

Batch 002 was distilled in Indiana from a corn/rye/malted barley mash bill.  The whiskey was aged in ex-bourbon barrels in Kentucky for 9.5 years, then finished in sherry casks.  This particular batch is bottled at 123.8 proof.

The nose isn’t as rich as recent batches of  Barrell Bourbon, but that’s to be expected.  A used barrel doesn’t give as much flavor and color as a new one. Still, there’s lots of good stuff to be found here.  Buttered corn bread, apple tart, vanilla ice cream and some fruit leap out of the glass.  Taste-wise, strong notes of graininess and graham cracker support delicate honeyed fruit.  The lightest touch of spice on the backend adds to the complexity of this whiskey.    The finish showcases the fruit notes of the palate with a touch of sweetness.

This is a nice sipping whiskey.  It’s light, but packs great flavors.  I like that the sherry cask finish is not overdone at all.  I like that it’s aged almost a decade.  I like that this is cask strength, allowing you to proof down the whiskey to your liking.  You see the trend here.  This is one I’ll pour over ice and enjoy outdoors during the hot, humid Louisiana summer months.  Nicely done.

(Note: A review sample was provided by the company behind this whisky free of charge.  The opinions written are my own.)