Barrell Craft Spirits Releases 18yr Whiskey Line…

I haven’t been this excited for a whiskey release in a long time because Barrell products are usually available, the price is reasonable and they are delicious.  I live for BTAC, but my wallet does not… nice to be able to get something really special for $100 or so… what is completely insane about these releases is that this is eighteen years old! WOW!  And I’m hearing most retailers are going to be selling this for around $99.99 as well (no price gouging!).  I found out the codes on the bottles, what they mean in terms of finishes as well, which is listed below.  Apparently there is going to be a bunch of Kentucky 18yr single barrels and then 18yr finished whiskey.  I need every single one of them!!!

  • AH01 – KY Whiskey Finished in a Sauternes Barrel
  • AH02 – KY Whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel
  • AH03 – KY Whiskey finished in a Washington State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH04 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH05 – KY Whiskey finished in a Sicilian Amaro Cask
  • AH06 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel
  • AH07 – KY Whiskey finished in a Oloroso Sherry Barrel
  • AH08 – KY Whiskey finished in a Malmsey Madeira Barrel
  • AH09 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ratafia de Champagne Barrel
  • AH10 – KY Whiskey finished in a Ruby Port Barrel
  • AH11 – KY Whiskey finished in a Gewurztraminer Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH12 – KY Whiskey finished in a New York State Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH13 – KY Whiskey finished in a German Ice Wine Barrel
  • AH14 – KY Whiskey finished in a Calvados Cask
  • AH15 – KY Whiskey finished in an Apricot Brandy Barrel
  • AH16 – KY Whiskey finished in a Jamaican Rum Cask
  • AH17 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH18 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH19 – KY Whiskey finished in an Armagnac Cask
  • AH20 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pear Brandy Cask
  • AH21 – KY Whiskey finished in a Rhum Agricole Cask
  • AH22 – KY Whiskey finished in an Indiana Rye Barrel
  • AH23 – KY Whiskey finished in an Islay Single Malt Scotch Cask
  • AH24 – KY Whiskey finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Barrel

Here is one website you can buy some of them… I wish I had the cheat sheet to where you can buy each one of these, but if I did, I’d need to buy them first 🙂

Update:  they have put some of the stores selling them on this link:

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

 

Newbourbondrinker’s Top 5 Whiskies of 2019!

Here are my top 5 whiskies/bourbons of 2019!  This year I decided to do a little something different… Instead of ranking them by my previous scores, I decided to do a little blind tasting of them… here are the contenders, with links to the reviews:

So I had my wife pour these 5 into Glencairn glasses, and to mix it up a little bit, we also put in four others just as decoys: an OWA SB NCF store pick, a Buffalo Trace SB store pick, Barrell Bourbon batch 022 and OGD 114.  Instead of giving you the play by play, here is how they all ended up:

  1. BCS 2019
  2. Cowboy 2019
  3. Barrell Bourbon Batch 022
  4. GTS 2019
  5. OWA SB NCF
  6. Cornerstone Rye
  7. Buffalo Trace SB
  8. Wiser’s 23yr
  9. OGD 114

The Top 4 were close together, but BCS took the title, while the bottom four were a bit back.  Nice to see one of the “decoys” make it into the top 5 and beat 3 of the other contenders.  The value pick clearly is BB022, edging out GTS and being much cheaper… and everyone knows that if you can snag a great store pick OWA SB NCF, that’s always worth snagging as many as you can–unfortunately those are harder and harder to get at MSRP, but even at double, still worth it for the right pick.

I’m so sorry it took so long to put out this blog, but first quarter has been a little crazy, and now that we are all working from home, I have a little more time to catch up with older posts that were partially written and actually follow through with this blind tasting!

George Remus Volstead 100th Anniversary 14yr MPG

Really nice bottle, beautiful presentation bottle and case. Apparently only 6,000 released. It’s a 14yr MGP Bourbon at $200, it has to be great right?

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I actually paid $235 with tax on this one, wasn’t $200 in my store, but close enough.

When I first cracked it open it smelled woody and tasted woody. There wasn’t much else as the wood overpowered everything. I let it sit a while and tried it again. Air does wonderful things to a fresh cracked whiskey.

You still are getting solid wood notes but graham crackers, toasted marshmallows, dried figs and black currant.

The mouthfeel is ok but lacks an oily enjoyment and the wood tannins overpower everything else. The finish is shorter than I hoped and there is more heat than the nose indicates.

I don’t know who the blender is at George Remus but it seems sad to waste such amazing juice on this product. It could have been given to a master blender to produce something truly special, worthy of this packaging. The heavy gold cap is especially nice though…. It’s still good, but not worth chasing. Initial grade: 84/100… after leaving it open for several months it opened up and the regrade is 88/100.

If you are a huge MGP fan, you are going to want to own this and you might think it’s a 90-92/100, but this is not an epic pour, and there are so many better MGP products out there.

Cream of Kentucky Initial Release, Disappointing

Sorry for delay here… I’m releasing it over a year late… I just was hoping that it would get better, and it improved mildly, but not enough… here we go:

Seems like  a lot of bloggers got a free bottle of this one… I bought it on bottle-spot secondary for $160… I guess I’m not getting a lot of love from the free bottle Bourbon Gods these days… But allows my conscious to be clear when I write these reviews.  I never got into it for the free booze anyway…

Bright copper color. Bottle is fairly generic and the plastic wrapper around the top seems cheap to be honest. Juice looks great in the glass.

First crack was heat and a lot of it.

After letting it sit for a while you still get a lot of heat but it’s moderated. Really nutty nose, almond butter, toasted pecans, Reese Peanut Butter cups… afterwards graham crackers and all-spice.

Mouthfeel is ok but not great, it starts out ok but fails to last and the heat is still higher than expected for this level or Proof and age. Finish isn’t particularly long.

This is one of the limited release Bourbons that has come out recently and priced at retail around $160. It just doesn’t deliver. It’s totally average. There are dozens of offerings at half the price that are significantly better. Would have expected more from Mr. Rutledge. 84/100

Saint Cloud Bourbon Disaster

Nose initially is painful. Nail polish, Pine Lysol, very medicinal. You really need to stick around to try to get any secondary aromas of enjoyment, and I just couldn’t. It’s 120 proof and you can feel every one of them. Total nostril scorcher.

It’s also hot on the palate too. Nothing hiding this Proof here. The mouthfeel is ok as you can tell it’s non-chill filtered and the finish does go on for a while but only the heat and bitterness. I never get a hint of butterscotch or caramel or anything enjoyable. This is clearly an extremely young Whiskey.

I put it aside and tried again later but I still was getting medicinal notes and heat. It hadn’t evolved in the bottle.

I feel bad about this. I really dislike this whiskey and I’ve had some that were too young but saw potential. I don’t see it here. Peerless is a great example of a good young whiskey that you can tell will get better and better. I’m not sure where this is contract distilled from, but it tastes medium to low end and I just don’t see how this is going to evolve into something much better unless something drastically changes. Ray seems like a nice enough guy who is passionate about his product, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I paid around $100 for this and I can’t recommend it to anyone for any reason. 50/100.

“No I can’t get you Pappy at MSRP” or another way to show you the top 5 bottles under $100 for 2019

I’m sure every avid Bourbon hunter/collector/drinker gets the same questions I do: “hey man, can you get me the hookup on some Pappy?”  Of course I can, $450 for a Pappy 10yr… “whattttt?”…. I don’t get it at MSRP, I don’t own a store, but I know people who will sell it for secondary (which seems to be 400-500 depending on where you are, if you can get it for less, great, but don’t pay more)… But then people think they can get it for MSRP, good luck with that unless you have a serious hookup, that I certainly don’t have either… After calling a bunch of stores and asking other people, the realization settles in, they ask, well, what can I get for under $100 that is really good too? Every year my list changes, but this year I am recommending these bottles to get, either as value drinks for yourself, or to recommend to your friends for drinkers… I know there will be a lot of disagreement, and I would love to hear your recommendations:

  • Mellow Corn (~$12)… great for cocktails
  • Buffalo Trace (~$25)… hard to beat for the price
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch Single Barrels  (~$35)… great single barrel value
  • Russel’s Reserve 10yr Single Barrels (~$45)… all around solid choice
  • Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail (~$75)… great sipper, cask strength, finished whiskey

Honorable Mention: ECBP, OWA 107, ETL, Blantons…. but they have been harder to find these days and often trade above $100 in secondary…

What do you think I should have on this list?  Comments welcome!

Barrell Bourbon Batch 022 + Beast Masters Club Event

Last night I went to the BeastMaster’s Club holiday event where they poured all their single barrels from the year (well I started this write-up a few months ago… but actually this was almost two months since the event).  As a special surprise, Will Schragis and his sales team from Barrell Bourbon, was pouring 12 different bottles of Barrell Craft Spirits products, including a super small Irish Whisky release, very cool!  I really enjoyed trying each of the Beast Masters Club single barrels, especially the Smoke Wagon MPG juice.  But the clear winner of the night wasn’t even close… it happened to be the one I liked the most that evening, but it was also the one that got drained halfway through the night.  You usually know when something is good when it’s almost empty, when other bottles around it are 1/2 to 3/4 full…  I ended up buying a bottle this morning so I could write up a review…

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Barrell Bourbon Batch 022 is a blend of Kentucky and Indiana straight Bourbon whiskey, coming in at 116.6 proof and is age stated at five years.  Don’t let the 5yr fool you though, I have it on good authority that although the youngest Bourbon is 5yrs, the majority of the juice is in the ten to twelve year area… few producers would risk mixing a 11yr or 12yr Bourbon with a 5yr because if you put “12yr Indiana from a undisclosed distillery located in Lawrenceburg” you are guaranteed to sell it for at least $100… what kind of person would take that and add younger juice in it?  The only person who would do that is someone who knows it will be better and cares more about the final product than making a quick buck… well, lets go to the tasting and see if that holds up.

The color alone tells you there is no way this is just 5yrs, my guess is the average is like 8-9, with that dark golden amber… The nose is insane, rock candy, candy corn from Halloween, freshly baked corn bread out of a cast iron pan, marzipan, butterscotch syrup and Teddy Grahams.  So little heat on the nose.  Dive right in.

Perfectly balanced on the way in, really good mouthfeel… good oils, if there was one thing I’d like more of is I’d like a little more oilyness on it… The Kentucky hug shows up and builds on the candy nose.  This is such a crowd-pleaser up front, but then the complexity and finish on the back end lets you know this is a contender for a Whiskey of the year.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a huge fan of Barrell Bourbon.  Very few people put out both epic single barrels, but also amazing blends.  It’s a skill that few producers have both of, and they nail it.  This might be my favorite batch since Batch 011.  As soon as I tried this again I put my order in for another case to bunker.  This one is going to be a huge winner.  And for those people out there who like Barrell but aren’t fans of Dickel, well, this is only IN/KY, be sure to grab a case or two… 97/100.

Post Script: I know Batch 021 won San Francisco best Bourbon of the year, but I prefer batch 022… super underrated!  If you can’t find 21, grab a few 22s!