bourbon review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review

I get excited when a new batch of Barrell Bourbon arrives at my doorstep. The folks making this aren’t looking for consistency between batches like most big time labels. Contrarily, each batch is unique in flavor profile. That allows the blender a nearly unlimited playground to play with when creating a new batch. That, to me, is exciting.

Barrel Bourbon Batch 014 started life with some 9-year-old barrels from Batch 012. A parcel of 9-year-old bourbon barrels were added and topped off with some 14-year-old bourbon. Like all of the company’s releases, Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 is bottled at cask strength. In this case we’re talking 109.4 proof. All the whiskies in this batch were distilled in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The rich nose features hints of caramel corn, vanilla extract, sweet oak, and a touch of herbs and some floral notes. Taste-wise, there is lots going on here. Cinnamon sticks and cardamon kick things off, leading to waves of toffee, butterscotch, rye spice and fruit. Tobacco and leather develop in the mid-palate along with toasted oak and a small blast of refreshing spearmint. The finish is long with hints of caramelized fruit, spice, and oak.

I’ve gotta say this has hit a sweet spot for my palate. It’s built upon classic bourbon flavors with the fruit and spice notes dialed up a notch. Barrell Bourbon’s winning streak continues. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

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

Barrell Bourbon Batch 013 Whiskey Review

The folks at Barrell Bourbon have most certainly ramped up production.  New batches are coming in quicker than they used to, or so it seems.  Thankfully, quality has not been sacrificed.  That is true of this latest release, Batch 013.

A batching of 5-year-old bourbon from Indiana and 5- and 8-year-old high rye bourbon from Tennessee, Barrell Bourbon Batch 013 is presented at the brand’s signature cask strength.  In this case, we’re looking at 113 proof.

The nose features hints of kettle corn, cinnamon, and buttered toast with a touch of feint oak.  Taste-wise, Batch 013 offers a classic bourbon experience.  By that I mean sweet corn, spice and vanilla.  Those flavors are presented in a cohesive, balanced manner.  Surprisingly, the young-ish 5-year-old Indiana bourbon component doesn’t dominate the palate, but its big corn note does shine in this whisky’s finish.  On the mid-palate, a creaminess appears, as well as orange zest.  The warming finish features sweet corn and cinnamon sugar. 

At the end of the day, Barrell Bourbon Batch 013 is a delicious, corn-forward (though not corn-dominated) bourbon.  It’s not among my favorite releases from Barrell, but it’s still nice.  I haven’t had a bad batch yet, and I don’t expect to.  Barrell founder Joe Beatrice would probably rather quit his job than release a sub-par whiskey.  7.5/10

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

Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition “Al Young” 50th Anniversary Bourbon Review

Four Roses Senior Brand Ambassador Al Young. Photo courtesy of Four Roses.

Where to start with Al Young?  He’s worked for Seagrams/Four Roses in some capacity or other for 50 years now.  In 1990, he was named Distillery Manager.  Young then transitioned into the role of Senior Brand Ambassador a decade ago.  Furthermore, Young has played the role of historian, documenting the brand from its beginning to its modern day resurgence in the book, “Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend.”

To commemorate a half century in service of the industry, Four Roses dedicated its spring-time limited edition release to Young.  The whiskey is a small batch bourbon that uses four of the company’s ten bourbon recipes.  Master Distiller Brent Elliott worked together with Young to pick just the right barrels.

  • 12-year-old OBSF
  • 13-year-old OESV
  • 15-year-old OBSK
  • 23-year-old OBSV

 The bottle is also a retro design.  Young looked through the company’s extensive archives and requested the new bottle look like one from 1967, his first year with the company.  You couldn’t ask for a better package.

The whiskey itself is magnificent.  The nose is full of beautifully aged bourbon – dark caramel, sweet corn, dried fruits and wave after wave of vanilla and spice.  A touch of cigar box adds some complexity.  Every now and then, some light floral topnotes fight their way through.  The palate was equally engaging with caramelized corn, dark cherries, candied berries, toasted grains, and spice.  Vanilla creme brulee plays big mid-palate.  The back palate features more spice (cinnamon, cloves) and slight bitterness.  That comes across more as a barrel char than something like dark chocolate.  Maybe somewhere in-between.  The finish is very long and warm, with that “bitter” character coming through alongside soft caramel sweetness.

For my tastes, Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition Al Young 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon is on the shortlist for my favorite whiskey of 2017.  Though this bourbon came out in June, it’s still just reaching different parts of the country. Only 10,000 bottles are available at a suggested price of $150. If you see it, buy it.  And if you buy it, drink it.  You won’t be disappointed.  9/10

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