Even by the wide-ranging blending standards of Barrell Craft Spirits, the company’s annual New Year bourbon is always a particularly cosmopolitan blend. Whereas the typical Barrell Bourbon batch might incorporate whiskeys from three or four sources, Barrell Bourbon New Year 2024 has liquid from pretty much every single U.S. source the brand buys whiskey from–eight different states (12 different whiskeys) in all. That makes this release more or less unclassifiable in a proper sense: You just have to call these a “blend of straight bourbons” of seemingly moderate age, and move on.
I say “seemingly” because we don’t have information on how much whiskey from each source, at each age statement, is included in the final blend. And even if we did, it would be an arcane bit of arithmetic to work it all out. Suffice to say, age statements here range from 5 years old to 15 years, likely favoring a bit younger spirit overall. States include the usual suspects–Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee–along with the likes of Wyoming, New York, Texas, Ohio and Maryland. These are all bourbons, with a result that is technically a four-grain product, as the “derived” mash bill works out to 72% corn, 22% rye, 5% malted barley and a 1% trace of wheat. The total package was blended and bottled in Kentucky at a cask strength of 56.5% ABV (113 proof). You can see the full details available on the blend at the official Barrell page here.
So with that said, let’s get to tasting this ambitious Barrell blend as the new year quickly approaches.
On the nose, Barrell Bourbon New Year 2024 opens with sweet caramel apple and dustings of baking spice, with impressions of nutmeg and clove. There is a toasty oak character here, along with some more exotic flashes of something like coconut and some dried fruit–something like raisin and then fig jam. At the same time, there’s a slightly musty grain or oak character that I’m less enamored with, perhaps a product of some of the younger liquid in the blend.
On the palate, this one gets quite spicy and expressive, in a good way. This is a sweet and spicy confection, with toffee-covered nuttiness and molasses, along with waves of toasted oak and fragrant oak spice. There’s a falernum-like allspice quality, along with coriander, blending nicely with gently toasty oak and mild wood tannin that cuts the sweetness just a bit. Jammy dark fruit adds to the decadent feel of the thin, with residual sweetness that is moderate to high. It feels quite festive and celebratory.
Overall, I quite like the palate here, as I’m often a sucker for this combination of sweetness and woody spice. The nose can’t quite match the vivaciousness of the flavors, but this is still a really fun blend, and one that feels quite apropos for the celebration of the holiday season.
Distillery: Barrell Craft Spirits
City: Louisville, KY
Style: Blend of straight bourbon whiskeys
ABV: 56.5% (113 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $85 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident craft beer and spirits geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.