Cask Strength

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 021

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.

Barrellbourbon.com

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

Review: Booker’s 2019-03 “Booker’s Country Ham”

A while back during a local Knob Creek tasting here in New Orleans, the local Beam Suntory team brought out one of Fred Noe’s country hams for the group to enjoy. I eat ham all the time, but this one still sticks out in my memories.

Country Ham is the name for the third batch of Booker’s bourbon in 2019. Booker Noe loved his ham. In fact, there’s a story in Jim Kokoris’s book, “The Big Man of Jim Beam,” in which Booker brought one of his smoked hams to a fine restaurant in Chicago. You know, to show them how real ham was supposed to taste!

This batch is 6 years, 4 months, and 2 days old, and has been bottled at 62.35% ABV (124.7 proof). The nose is typical Booker’s – lots of vanilla and caramel alongside hints of honey-roasted nuts and oak. At just over 124 proof, Booker’s Country Ham drinks fine neat. Taste-wise, it’s more of what you’ve come to expect: lots of vanilla, roasted sweet corn, caramel-covered cinnamon rolls, and some oak spice. The long finish wraps you in a sweet, warming Kentucky hug.

Booker’s Country Ham is another solid batch of Jim Beam’s cask strength bourbon. It’s a great one to introduce people curious about the brand as it solidly represents the Booker’s standard flavor profile. Recommended! Now, if I could just get my hands on more of that country ham…

Bookersbourbon.com

Thanks to Booker’s bourbon for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Barrell Bourbon Batch 018

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

Barrellbourbon.com

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