Barrell Craft Spirits has been doing wonderous and remarkable things with their blends from the get-go. From my most recent experience with Barrell Seagrass, to Dovetail, to the amazing single barrels that I've tried, there hasn't been anything from them that I've been able to turn down a pour of yet. I even won a signed bottle from Joe Beatrice in a blind tasting competition! That said, I go into every pour with a challenging and inquisitive mind. I generally try to disregard label and price once the liquor hits the glass and just evaluate on my reception to the experience.
My puppy Fern enjoyed seeing me pop open this sample but she kept her distance from the 115.34 proof heat the best she could!
This sample was provided to me from Barrell Craft Spirits at no cost and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to review this pour with no strings attached.
Company on Label: Barrell Craft Spirits
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed blend of TN, KY, and IN mash bills
Age: 5 years (likely blended with older product than that)
Further identification: This is batch 032 which is releasing across the country in early 2022
Nose: Funky oak forward on the first nosing with a distinct chocolate background. This reminds me a bit of some Wild Turkey or Beam funk right upfront and I'm definitely here for it. A rich, powerful vanilla follows with more dusty oak, black pepper and shiny metallics. I have to re-highlight the fun black pepper characteristic here which smells like so many of my favorite whiskies. The nose-feel is quite a bit on the dry side with powdered cacao and dark sawdust really keeping things tamped down and under wraps. I get the whole dang woodshed on this one. It's incredibly oak prevalent but it's not quite like anything I'm used to experiencing which is quite interesting. There's a touch of a savory sensation. A few deep inhales later and that heavy oak blanket seems to be lifting off the glass now and a bit of lemon zest emerges like the first signs of Spring. There's a nice background fruit and floral sweetness that isn't very prevalent but leaves a nice feeling in the nose. Much lighter now which tells me the glass is about ready for a sip.
After a sip the funk from the early nose returns alongside a rich caramel. Light florals keep this delicate at other times. There definitely seems to be the hallmark experience of a blend of whiskies where distinctly different flavors tend to phase in and out of the glass. A wave of vanilla bean washed over the glass as I finished that thought. The empty glass smells lovely with a chocolate, soft red grape, plum, and a sweet honeysuckle. It highlights a nosing experience that reminds me of some of the earliest bourbons that I got into which is vaguely nostalgic for me. When I inhale through my nose while sipping I get some really distinct linen notes. The empty glass smells of light peanut, salty & savory bologna, and a truly lovely maple sugar / vanilla mix right on the tail end.
Palate: Woah, the plum pop on the first sip is exhilarating, but it finishes a touch hot for only 115 proof. There's a nice texture to this that reminds me of an extra-bubbly seltzer. A subsequent sip is again fruit forward with cherry juice. A freight train of tannic oak spice rockets in behind the fruit and washes away any of the sweet linger that started out on the tongue. The mouth feel is a thick viscosity with molasses, cacao nibs, papaya seeds and capers lingering longest. Another sip is full of sweet, chalky candy like sweet tarts and smarties. Something in here feels slightly musty like there's a really highly aged bourbon mixed in on the back end. If you are a fan of old age statements and a lot of oak this release is certainly for you. As I swish a bit of the remaining whiskey in the glass I find a distinct vanilla, loads of the black pepper from the early nose, and a long, smoldering spiced finish. I may be getting soft with my whiskey these days but I have certainly been leaning towards more sweet rather than spicy pours. This one almost delivers a cayenne pop without too much heat. My last sip is a smaller one and that results in a brief flash of dried cherries, chalky sweet tart, plum, and dusty raisin flavor profile that I find to run right down the middle of the road in terms of quality for me. The linger is quite long with the same vague fruit and floral medley I mentioned earlier not really delivering anything descript - a hallmark of blends I've noticed for sure.
Batch 032 certainly did not disappoint me - that's the beauty of my 3 score: it's a pour I could go either way on; a pour that really runs right down the middle on the quality scale. If my ratings were a bell curve (which they probably are given enough whiskies reviewed) I'd imagine a significant portion of things should fall near the 3 mark. The scales where all the whiskies in the world are fighting for a 0.1 point difference against each other along the 90-100 range just doesn't make sense to me, so I like to do things this way. I hope you can interpret my scale properly and the tasting notes above help you out in your decision to try this whiskey! All this said, I've definitely personally had much more incredible releases from Barrell Craft Spirits than this. Cheers gang!