review

Review: Barrell Craft Spirits 13-Year-Old Rum

This 13-year-old rum is among the first wave of Barrell Craft Spirits (BCS) releases alongside an exquisite 15-year-old bourbon and complex 25-year-old American whiskey.  Barrell Craft Spirits is a new upscale line from the folks behind the popular Barrell Bourbon.  If you follow this blog, you already know how big a fan I am.  Don’t believe me – just search my site for Barrell.

Rums from Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana that were at least 13 years old were blended together at cask strength, which in this case is 124.2 proof.  The company’s first rum, released in 2016, was pretty damn tasty.

On the nose, BCS rum features notes of buttery toffee, ripe plantain, and a slight herbal quality.  There’s also a bit of tea and cognac in the background.  The palate offers hints of molasses, oak spice, coconut shavings, and vibrant lime zest.  Those spices ramp up heading into the long finish, which is as warm as a Kentucky hug.  I preferred the rum with a touch of water, which brought about a bit more sweetness.

The barrels that make up this blend were almost released as single barrels.  I’m glad they weren’t.  As good as those barrels may have been, blending them together is probably the better decision.  I base that statement on the quality and drinkability of past spirit releases from Barrell.  I’ve tasted a couple of their single barrel bourbons, and while they were tasty, they didn’t hold a candle to every other Barrell release, which was a blend.  In other words, Barrell’s strength lies in their blending ability.  With that, BCS rum is a delicious, hearty, and complex release.  Captain Morgan this is not.  8.5/10

barrellbourbon.com

Thanks to Barrell Craft Spirits for the sample.  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: Chivas Regal Mizunara

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Chivas Regal’s latest addition to their US portfolio is Chivas Regal Mizunara.  Mizunara is a Japanese Oak.  It’s generally not used outside of Japan, which makes Chivas one of the first wave of Scotch whiskies utilizing the oak.  In this case, a portion of this blended whisky is finished in Mizunara.  You might recall a Bowmore Mizunara a couple of years back.  It too was finished in this eastern oak, which tends to add some spice notes.

This new expression from the big blending house is bottled at 40% ABV and available for a suggested price of $45.  Chivas has always been an approachable whisky.  Let’s see how this one fares.

The somewhat muted nose features hints of vanilla, cloves, light toffee, and a greenish grain note, suggesting some young whisky in the blend.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the price.  The palate fares a bit better with waves of spiced toffee, sweet grain,  anise, and dried apricot.  The mid-palate does come across as a bit thin.  Chivas Regal Mizunara carries a short, clean finish.

It was interesting to taste spicier notes than what I usually find in a Chivas Regal blend, and that’s thanks to the Mizunara oak finish.  However, the brand only finished part of this whisky in said oak.  What’s in the bottle is pleasant enough, but at the same time non-offensive and maybe a bit bland.  A slightly higher ABV might have made for a better tasting experience.  Chivas Regal Mizunara should appeal to people who don’t like bold whiskies.  7/10

Chivas.com

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