By this point, if you’ve been paying attention, you probably have a good idea of what Barrell Craft Spirits is all about. We’ve reviewed some of their regular batches of bourbon and rye in the past, and have also dabbled in the company’s Private Release Whiskey series, which sees unique bourbon blends finished in unconventional barrels that formerly held everything from rum to amaro. Suffice to say, it no longer seems necessary to explain the entire philosophy of this company in an intro.
Suffice to say, Barrell is an independent blender and bottler, gathering American whiskey from all over for each of its unique blends. We have here a sample of the most recent Barrell Bourbon Batch 025, which is unique for the company in one major way in particular—it’s the first of the regular Barrell Bourbon batches to include selections of wheated bourbon. The company describes Batch 025 thusly:
Batch 025 highlights the unique additions that secondary grains contribute to aged bourbon. 13 to 15-year corn-forward bourbons and 5 to 9-year-old wheated bourbons were slowly layered in with a selection of 9-year-old high-rye bourbons, revealing notes from the entire spectrum of available flavors. A portrait of finely tuned blending, Batch 025 is citrusy and peppery, without losing the opulence and oaky ease of the older ingredients.
As ever, the exact sources of each given distillate are not disclosed, although knowledge that they hail from Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana allows you to make some ballpark guesses. This is a combination of 5.5, 9, 13 and 15-year-old bourbons, include both wheated and rye recipe bourbon, bottled in Kentucky at a cask strength of 113.4 proof. Savvy? Then let’s get to tasting, and see how this compares to some of the Barrell batches we’ve had in the past.
On the nose, this one initially read as slightly hot, but that ethanol presence blew off pretty quickly, leaving distinct notes of toffee and pineapple-like tropical fruitiness. There’s a “caramel candies” or confectionary thing going on here that evokes Werther’s originals, along with a biscuity note and a bit of molasses. The nose definitely has some noticeably tropical elements, which threw me for a bit of a loop, but it’s increasingly defined by caramelized sugars over time.
On the palate, this opens rich and decadent, with lots of warm, gooey caramel, significant residual sweetness and some very pleasant nuttiness as well. I’m thinking pecan pie now, with chocolate and gentle baking spices, along with big vanilla. That impression of sweetness is kicked into next gear by the mouthfeel, which is very thick and syrupy—even moreso than you would expect for this non-chill-filtered proof—which really makes this one drink like a desserty, flavor-packed dram. It’s ultimately not that sweet, but the mouthfeel certainly plays up that aspect of the bourbon, while additional flavors of orange citrus, mocha/tiramisu do nothing to dissuade the desserty connotations.
All in all, though, Batch 025 is quite delicious, provided you gel with the flavor profile as I apparently have done. The nose is nicely tropical, while the palate goes in more of a gooey caramel direction, supported by citrus, chocolate, coffee, and subtle spice. To those who want at least moderate sweetness in their bourbon, this definitely feels like a bigtime crowd pleaser, and it’s a very densely flavor-packed dram.
Distillery: Barrell Craft Spirits
City: Louisville, KY
ABV: 56.7% (113.4 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $79.99 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident brown liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.