Very well rounded from nose to finish, with the nose especially impressive.
The price will be a turnoff for many bourbon drinkers, at nearly 1.5 times the price of several other barrel proof bourbons.
Barrell Craft Spirits, founded in 2013 by Joe Beatrice, has established itself as a bit of an eclectic whiskey producing powerhouse over the last several years. They are sort of a pioneer in the American whiskey scene, although what they are currently doing is similar to what Scottish independent bottlers like Cadenhead and Adelphi have been doing for a long time: finding unique high quality casks of different spirits (predominantly whiskey) and bottling them at cask strength, while also providing the consumer with just about as much information as they’re legally able to regarding components, age, distillery, mash bill, cask type, etc.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Barrell blends single batches of bourbon, rye, whiskey (not classified as bourbon or rye) and rum. They source mainly from Kentucky, Tennessee (likely Cascade Hollow/George Dickel), and Indiana (MGP), but have sourced whiskey from as far away as Poland. In their own words:
At Barrell Craft Spirits, our goal is to blend great tasting, high quality spirits. We blend products that explore the unique effects of different distillation methods, barrels and aging environments, and bottle them at cask strength. Every batch we produce is a limited release and has an intentionally distinct flavor profile.
Bourbon batch 011 was released in March of 2017, but you can still find a few bottles floating around today. As of the time of this writing, batch 015 is the newest bourbon release. This particular batch was received with quite a bit of acclimation and awards from various competitions.
- Distilled and aged in Tennessee
- “Crafted” and bottled in Kentucky
- A marriage of casks of various ages, with the youngest being 6 years old
- Mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley
- Bottled at cask strength 57.4% ABV (114.8 proof)
Nose: Delicately blended scents of oak and sweet corn drift out of the glass first, before giving way to rich notes of honey, roasted nuts, and caramel. Deeper in is a slightly zesty citrus note.
Palate: The arrival is filled with sweet candy corn that bursts on the tongue. The barrel proof carries the flavor boldly, but the dram is free from much alcohol burn. As the dram develops, additional notes of caramel, vanilla, honey and oak emerge, with hints of rye spice flirting around the edges.
Finish: Long lingering with great warmth and depth. The oak and vanilla hold strong before finally giving way to sweet corn, a bit of spice, and a fun, sweet oakiness.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. This recommendation is purely based on price, as this is an excellent bourbon. If a $90 bottle of whiskey is an easy fit for your budget, then this is a must try bourbon. For many bourbon drinkers, it’s a big pill to swallow when you see this come in well beyond the price of other well known barrel proof bourbons like Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Bookers, or Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, which aren’t exactly mediocre bourbons. Price aside, the craftsmen at Barrell have proven over more than a dozen batches now that they know what they are doing, and you can count on them to give you a damn good whiskey if it fits your budget.