I'm once again diving in to explore the blending prowess of Barrell Craft Spirits. One search of my website will show that I've got plenty of experience with this well diversified brand. But what makes the Barrell bourbon line & their numerous batch numbers special? For one, these are crafted in accordance with their motto "blended to never blend in", a venerable mission attempting to differentiate from what every other brand is doing. Another contrast to the status quo is that unlike single barrels, the Barrell team is able to mix this up in quantities sufficient to distribute all across the country. While only a select group may be able to sip through a single barrel together, blends allow for the larger whiskey enjoying community to all be able to taste and explore a specific flavor profile together. This sense of community is not lost on Barrell, seemingly always available to be reached and willing to take the time to communicate with their friends and fans. This kind of meaningful effort goes a long way in the busy world we live in today. Short attention spans and shorter social media captions allow us to move on to the next distraction at an alarming pace. Sipping through a well-crafted whiskey should give us an opportunity to slow back down, patiently explore, and spark meaningful conversations with those around us.
Reviewing the information that Barrell provides on their website, I find a brief description saying:
Barrell Bourbon Batch 035 is a blend of 6, 7, 8, and 13-year-old bourbons. A multi-mashbill blend of 6 and 7-year-old spicy and earthy, high-rye, high-proof, oak forward barrels was combined with a blend of 8-year-old softer, lower-proof barrels with concentrated notes of dark cherry and butterscotch. After mingling for two months, 13-year-old barrels with dominant fruit flavors were layered in. A portion of these barrels had more tropical fruit notes and the other portion showed more dried and candied fruit notes. The resulting bourbon is peppery and intriguing on the nose, and sweet and long on the finish.
Is your mouth watering yet? No? Just me?
After thorough examination of this bottle (like really thorough, the bottle is empty) I'm finally ready to share my thoughts on this one. The blend components come from 3 states of distillation Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. These are three of the bourbon powerhouses of the United States, so this makes perfect sense. How do whiskeys from different terroirs come together? Let's dig in and find out. This bottle 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. I'd also like to thank them for their patience, as I've had this bottle for many months before finally publishing this review!
Company on Label: Barrell Craft Spirits
Whiskey Type: A Blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskeys
Mash Bill Percentages: A derived mash bill of 78% corn, 18% rye and 4% malted barley based on the blending proportions
Age: 6 years (a blend of 6-13 year bourbon)
Further identification: Batch 035 is blended from whiskey distilled in IN, KY & TN; the blend composition is made up of 6, 7 & 8 year Indiana bourbon, 7 & 13 Tennessee bourbon, and 8 year Kentucky bourbon; it is available now at an MSRP of $84.99
Nose: Cherry, plum and rich oak land up front. Salted caramel cookie, buttercream frosting and oodles of spice swing in on subsequent inhales. It’s a dry bakery spice that’s prevalent throughout, contrasting the sweeter hints that can be found between the larger, undulating waves of aroma. Ultimately crisp & clean with no sharp edges - this has the makings of a crushable pour. Sipping time!
Returning my nose to the glass reports back notes of a well stocked woodshed, cold air brushed in from a door left open too long during a Winter storm, and creamy marshmallow. Late in the glass things become quite delicate and well balanced with the fruit tones returning in spades alongside milk chocolate. The empty glass smells of walnut, mint pistachio ice cream and strawberry cotton candy.
Palate: My first sip throws out gobs of dried fruit - cherry skins, blackberry, allspice, and nutmeg form a solid base that coats the mouth. Mouthfeel is quite important to me and this has that magical viscosity that settles gently onto the tongue, delivers solid flavor and never gets out of hand. Another sip and swish adds in all the spice you need and none of that you don’t. Cinnamon, coriander and a flash of smoked paprika ultimately give a quick punch before relinquishing control of the taste buds, allowing browned butter, leather and oak to dance in typical bourbon fashion. My last sip is like a sweet Milky Way bar nuanced with touches of cherry in a long, subtle linger that drinks well below its proof.
TL;DR: A crisp, layered nose amplifies a viscous mouthfeel loaded with crushable sweet & spice
This is just a classic & remarkably unique bourbon at the same time. Despite the blend coming from whiskey from 3 states, it tastes cohesive, clean and delicious. I find this to lack a little bit in the wow factor department, but it certainly produces a solid array of flavors that has had me sipping this frequently with friends. It's not often I reach the bottom of a bottle before I give it away to a friend, family member, or coworker... but this bottle was so crushable I saw it through to the very end. At the time of finishing this review it's long been sent to the recycling bin!
Cheers & thanks for reading!