Barrell Bourbon is doing right, what so many brands that source their whiskey, are doing wrong. Joe Beatrice finds the cream of the crop, from single barrels to lots and puts out some of the most solid releases consistently. While no two batches are the same, or necessarily share the same provenance, they all have one thing in common, excellence. Prior to Batch 12 showing up on my doorstep, I have been an avid fan of Barrell Bourbon, I own Batches 3, 6, & 11, as well as Bottled for You, and the New Years 2017 release.
Joe was kind enough to send Batch 12 along for review and this has not influenced my review in any way.
I’ve made it no secret that I’m a fan of barrel strength whiskies, from Booker’s to Blanton’s SFTB, the new Bulleit Barrel Strength, Knob Creek, and the Stagg Jr. & Antique line. I just can’t get enough of bourbon in its natural element. Barrell Bourbon Batch 12 showed up with no information as to its origins and I like the mystery behind it, here is my unfiltered review:
Nose: The nose comes in HOT, loads of cinnamon, brown sugar, some corn sweetness to round it out. Don’t stick your schnoz too far into that glencairn glass lest you get burnt.
Taste: Despite the cask strength and the aggressive nose, this whiskey sips very smoothly, which isn’t to say there isn’t a TON of flavour. I get orange spice [think a good quality bitters] with ginger bread, a very understated oak, a flavour I can only describe as caramelized carrots [sweet but an earthy savor] along with the standard caramels and sweet notes.
Finish: This whiskey has a long and drying finish, but not unpleasant, it just makes you want to take another sip. The citrus and spices continue, a bit of anise / licorice, cinnamon and pepper, with the burnt oak being most prevalent towards the end.
This bourbon is so well balanced for my tastes, I’m floored. No overpowering oak, quite a bit of spices that hit all of the right notes like cinnamon, ginger, anise, & citrus that mix well with the corn and brown sugar sweetness. I feel like the barrels here, no pun intended, had to be cream of the crop. Oak in perfect season, kilned and charred just perfectly to get all of these flavours in. This reminds me so much of my first drinks of Knob Creek Single Barrel, it wouldn’t surprise me if this whiskey had Beam origins.
If you like your whiskey strong, well balanced on spice, not heavy on the oak, and could easily play well in cocktails like an Old Fashioned, Sazerac, or even a Whiskey Sour… or just sipped neat like I prefer, then this is your new favourite. Heavy oak lovers, smooth sippers, and those searching for smoke need not apply.
Barrell Bourbon Batch 12 should be on shelves or hitting your market within the next couple of months. It will likely retail for around the $90-$100 price point that most of their releases sit at. Batch 12 comes in at a respectable but not overpowering 108.5 Proof [59.25% ABV] and as I said, is surprisingly smooth. If you want to dip your toes into barrel strength whiskey, Barrell bourbon is a fantastic starting point, no matter which batch you’re able to track down.