Barrell Bourbon Private Release B24A Bourbon Review
Barrell Craft Spirits is a wonderful, wonderful brand. I have really come to love and respect their blending abilities. This happens to be the bottle that I won in @SaxyBourbon's blind tasting competition! I actually just remembered that I technically reviewed this already - in the form of the sample that Brett sent to me as part of his original giveaway. You can see my blind review of it here.
Company on Label: Barrell Craft Spirits
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed blend of TN, KY, and IN mash bills
Age: A blend of 25% 5 year, 30% 10 year, 35% 14 year, and 10% 16 year bourbons, therefore it's a '5 year' bourbon
Further identification: The B24A blend is a store pick from Amelia Island, Florida at a store called Amelia Liquors; it happens to be from the store that Brett (@saxybourbon) met Joe Beatrice and got this bottled signed for me!
Nose: I am instantly aware of some significant barrel aging here as I raise the glass to my nose. I find that wonderous caramel funk on top of a sturdy bed of level oak. Soft raisin, plum and fig are tantalizing on the edges. There's a touch of that dry, bright paper note that sometimes shows up alongside some older oak. It's reminiscent of good Heaven Hill bourbon. Alongside these aromas I dig up in small flashes bits of black pepper, leather and soft herbal tones. I really like the soft fruity tones that come off this glass; they are dark in character, but light in intensity. Oh wow, sticking my nose well into the glass I'm greeted by a very distinct licorice smell. Time for a sip!
After having a few sips and coming back to the nose I find that the darker tones have built well. I get rich molasses, leather and a beautiful vanilla. It's almost like the vanilla you might get off of a rich red wine. I absolutely adore that aroma. This continues to have just the perfect barrel aging on full display all throughout the nose. At the very end of the glass the aroma intensity falls off a bit, but it is overall still an awesome nosing experience from start to finish. The empty glass smells of floral funk, dark chocolate, and light berries.
Palate: The moment this whiskey hit my lips I knew this one was going to be a sweet factory. I immediately got that tooth-shock that you get when your mouth knows you're about to eat something really sugary sweet! I find a lot of the fruit notes that were more subtle on the nose, but those plum, fig and raisin flavors are in the forefront with a new layer of salted caramel and maraschino cherry added on top. The mouth feel is incredibly satisfying and this is where the caramel creaminess sets this pour up on a well-founded stage. I also get a little bit of the fickle nature of blends where there are some characteristics that seem so uniquely distinct from each other that they couldn't possibly have been aged from one cohesive barrel, but that's also the beauty of this pour. I think this is a fine example of blending done right where I go on this amazing whiskey journey from the sweet candied cherry as I sip and swish to the pepper-laced molasses as the whiskey slowly hugs its way into a warm spot in my chest. The linger and finish let the subtle proof wave breath in and out of you on subsequent breaths which is a hallmark of some of the other perfectly aged products I also enjoy. Later in the glass the spice starts to build well as a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, and anise begins to stick in the molasses-thick mouth coating. As I near the bottom of the glass I begin to find a bit of tannic grape and tart prune sweetness. My last sip is starting to show a little bit of the proof now with the tannic grape notes coming off a touch sharp, but the big, ultra-aged caramel balancing it well.
This was so damn close to earning a 5 for me, but the end of the glass did taper off a bit. Honestly this release reminded me a lot of 2020 George T Stagg at the start. This is a really well crafted blend that I am sure glad I have a bottle of! The empty glass smells really almost got me to bring it back to a 5, but that category is really hard to get into for good reason for me! Whiskeys should really follow a bell curve in quality distribution, but too often I see review scales go into sub-fractions all near the top of the scale. This isn't how the world works and I'd like to keep this as honest as I can!