New England Barrel Company is an awesome new start up out of New England who are taking a new spin on sourcing great whiskey. I was excited to see a new local label on the shelf. The lighthouse definitely caught my eye as something new. I have previously tasted my way through their 21-02 batch which I jumped a little too hastily into reviewing early on. The bottle ended up being pretty great and I crushed it with a few family members out on a trip. I have since found the 21-01 label and thought I'd give this one another fair shake. Let's see how this tastes!
Company on Label: New England Barrel Company
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Age: 3.25 years
Further identification: From conversations with the founder, James, online we know he is all about transparency with these picks; he informed me this batch (21-01) is sourced from Green River Distilling, formerly the OZ Tyler Distillery out of Owensboro, KY
Nose: Floral caramel candy. Nice chocolate rye spice. Wax paper with a light black pepper sprinkled over it. Rye grain nestled well into a savory oak. Dark cherry skin presents very light and needs to be pulled out quickly and aggressively. Light allspice. Impressive almost murky layers to this. Almost as though I am smelling through a thick fog. The air in the glass feels heavy and rich. Meaty funk like pulled pork; occasionally kicked into another gear by lemon and an earthy grass. The meaty notes are so pronounced here... This is really fun/interesting. Such a clear, unique chocolate and pepper combination too. Great pre-sip nose. Post sip nose turned a bit creamier, and with it came some metallic notes. It feels like I'm over a vat or by a still with this nose; like I'm part of the creation of this somehow. Creamy vanilla is now translating into more sweetness which is nice. Eventually there is enough sweetness where it starts smelling more like a marshmallow late in the glass. Deep inhales characterize the overall feel of this glass to be very caramel and spice forward. Some light molasses funk and a tad bit of nuttiness like a pistachio. Later this turns more into a standard peanut smell. Empty glass shows off a light milk chocolate. Good layers all the way through.
Palate: Whew! Big spice tingle to start, followed by the creamy caramel and vanilla. The cherry skin from the nose has popped and it is so syrupy with some cinnamon hots running through the cracks in the cherry. Definitely some cooking herbals starting to stew in the bottom of an oily pan. A spicy rise exudes a good amount of proof on the back end of the flavor. Things have mellowed into more sweetness now with a salty raisin note and smoky, charred oak. When I say smoky it's not like a heavy fire smoke, but like if someone were smoking a vanilla tobacco out of a pipe the next room over kind of feel. Cherry is turning quite hot near the end, but it has a great syrupy texture to it that is really yummy. The finish is really the only place the oak shows up on this one. The texture and taste of the oak note on the finish is the only place I had any evidence of this being under 4 years. I think it definitely drinks above it's age, at least to the 4 year mark, which is usually very hard to do against my palate. Last sip of the glass is enjoyable and warming, with a dark cherry hug goodbye.
Color me impressed on this one! I think this definitely tasted better than the 21-02 batch I tried, but for 3.25 years, which would normally almost always be a turn away point for me (or so I thought), this bourbon does great things. It just goes to show that there really no hard and fast rules in the world of whiskey. If you were on the fence about this one and like spicier bourbons: give this a shot!