Barrell Whiskey 18yr Single Barrel Pick: WhiskeyMentors ButterBall

This is Irene’s pick from Canterbury Liquors in CT and is the WhiskeyMentors QS01 ButterBall.  It is Barrell Whiskey Private Release barrel A123, age stated at 18yrs.  So what I learned from these recent releases is that only the single barrel picks are age stated at 18yrs; while the others are also 18yrs, apparently the new liquor rules about blending and finishing make it very difficult to keep the age statement on the bottle.  This one comes in at 117.6 proof, is not finished, just the pure single barrel.

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The interesting thing about this bottle is when I first cracked it, I was not a fan.  It was very hot and lacked complexity.  I sat it down and a week later it completely transformed.  I never publish reviews after trying something only once after a fresh crack; you always need to see the evolution once air hits.

I know why Irene named this ButterBall… it has a punch of Jif peanut butter right in the face.  Lots of nuttiness and there is a decent amount of heat, but that certainly has turned into a secondary feature.

Good mouthfeel, totally coats the mouth, focusing in the front.  You get that good nuttiness again and the tannins come through causing your mouth to water.  Secondary taste of Cow Tail candy, buttered toast, Skittles and Captain Crunch.  The finish is multiple minutes, and never goes bitter.

This is a good single barrel pick and it’s very hard to find something with an 18yr age statement.  Quite the unicorn!  I’m glad this one was put aside and not finished as it has a very unique profile.  96/100

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Barrell Whiskey 18yr finished in Sauternes Barrel

Sauternes…. mmmm… sweet Sauternes.  But I digress.  Today is the AH01 barrel pick from Barrell Craft Spirits, from their 18yr Kentucky whiskey line, this one finished in a Sauternes barrel.  It comes in at 123.94 proof.

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Entenmann’s original donut, honeysuckle, liquid caramel, Peanut M&M’s and fresh honey wheat bagels.  Very light heat from the nose.

Rich and chewy mouthfeel with big spices that I didn’t see on the nose.  Much bigger on the palate than the nose indicated.  Decent heat with an enjoyable hug and a finish that goes on for about two minutes and never goes bitter.

This is another really great barrel finished whiskey from Barrell.  95/100.

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https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Joe’s Playlist Track #1 Hungarian Fair: Tokaji Finished 18yr Whiskey

The review series continues and today is Barrell Whiskey Private Release, Joe’s Playlist Track #1 Hungarian Fair: 18yr Kentucky whiskey finished in a Tokaji Barrel.  This is another very cool finish that I’ve never had before.  I’m a huge fan of Tokaji, the original great dessert wine (even before Sauternes was popular).

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Again, beautiful bottle with the light blue lettering on top of the dark blue background.  I bought this one from Mash & Grape after seeing the playlist being promoted on Instagram.  By the time this is published I’m sure it will have been sold out unfortunately.

The nose is inviting with sweet notes of ripe apricots, butterscotch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch with mild hints of heat.  There are secondary notes of licorice, brioche and flaxseed flour.

Enjoyable mouthfeel focused on the back of the mouth to start then slowly works it was forward, a very interesting progression.  You get the nutty notes first, then fruit and sweetness second.  The second taste is better than the first.  The finish is longer than a minute.  What’s also interesting is the first day you open it, it’s a good pour, but after a week it evolves into a very good pour.

This is a really enjoyable pour and the barrel finish is very cool.  100% worth trying and adding to your collection.  95/100.

Joe’s Playlist #2: https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2020/06/29/barrell-craft-spirits-joes-playlist-2-genesis-mg01/

Ratafia de Champagne Finish 18yr Barrell Whiskey: https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/barrell-whiskey-private-release-ratafia-de-champagne-finish/

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Barrell Whiskey Private Release: Ratafia de Champagne Finish

A continuing part of my Barrell Craft Spirits special release series of reviews, today is the Barrell Whiskey Private Release Kentucky Whiskey Finished in a Ratafia de Champagne Barrel.  This bottle is based on an 18yr old Kentucky whiskey (Bourbon mashbill but aged in used cooperage), and they finished it in something, I’ll be honest, that I did not know it existed. I have to google what Ratafia de Champagne was: a sweet liqueur based on Champagne grapes.  Sounds delicious!

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AH09 Blend clocks in at 122.42 proof, no aged stated, but we know it is predominantly a 18yr Kentucky Whiskey.  Beautiful bottle with smart blue label.

The nose is sweet with almond butter, Twizzlers, crushed graham crackers, dried cherries, Butterfinger.  There is heat on the nose, but only when you go deep in the glass.

Medium mouthfeel with overwhelming tastes of nuts: almonds, toasted chestnuts and peanut butter than morphs into dried fruit and red delicious apple skins.  The finish is about 90 seconds.

This is a really enjoyable whiskey and with a unique finish.  I bought two extra ones, one for my bunker and one for the cabinet as I do not think the open one will be lasting too long.  96/100.

I bought mine here, they may have a few left: https://www.mashandgrape.com/collections/barrell-craft-spirits?utm_source=barrellbourbon&utm_medium=barcart

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https://www.barrellbourbon.com/privatereleasewhiskey

Barrell Craft Spirits: Joe’s Playlist #2 Genesis MG01

Barrell Craft Spirits has recently put out several very limited, very special releases.  Many of them are based on a 18yr Kentucky Whiskey, some single barrels, some barrel finishes.  In addition they released a tiny production via social media called “Joe’s Playlist.”  If you weren’t following them on Instagram, you might have missed it.  I think there might be a couple bottles left on Mash & Grape (link).  Today I will be reviewing the Joe’s Playlist #2: Genesis.

Even though I usually don’t give the review until the end,  I will say that I liked this one so much that I reached out to Barrell Bourbon directly to ask them more about this specific barrel.  It was unique and so good, and only 4yrs old, so I needed to understand how it was possible for it to be this delicious.  Joe said “these are amazing barrels that I bought three years ago.  They have been aged in Indiana, New York, Tennessee and Kentucky.  they are among my favorites and are a part of our company history.”  Four years old, aged in four states, maybe all the moving around helped expedite the aging?  I don’t know… on to the review:

Nice amber color, in the beautiful iconic Barrell bottle, their rye label is green and has the Playlist label on top “Genesis Track #2”.  Barrel number MG01 (clearly a reference to MGP), age stated 4yrs, 119.56 proof, straight rye whiskey and distilled in Indiana.

Cinnamon stick, rock candy and eucalyptus on the nose, very strong aroma but very little heat. Never would have guessed the age based on nose.  Secondary notes of dried orange peel, nutmeg and spearmint.

Epic mouthfeel, totally coats everything and the rock candy, spearmint and spices come through strong. There is a decent hug, more than the nose indicates but very enjoyable. The finish goes on for multiple minutes. The spice lingers for so long and not once does it fade to bitter. What gets me is how thick the mouthfeel is and how enjoyable. This is special.

The only downside to this is that it’s a single barrel and will never be duplicated. It’s an insanely good pour and rivals the best Thomas H Handy I’ve had and certainly beats last year’s.  I was told that this is the barrel that inspired Joe’s Playlist and I know why. If there is a MG02 of MG03 I know that I will be in line to get it!  I bought this bottle myself and I’m glad I bought two of them! 98/100

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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!

My 2018 Top 5 Best Available Bottle under $100 or how best to say “no I can’t get you any Pappy at retail”

OK… so I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets this question all the time from friends, family, co-workers, etc…. Usually it starts out like “hey, can you get me some Pappy?”… yes I can, you want a ORVW for $450-$500?  “Oh, I though you had the hookup, can you get it for me at retail?”  No… I can’t get it for myself at retail… then eventually we just arrive at the Seinfeldian response of “well, why don’t you just tell me what you want to pay…”  So, here is my list of the best bottles that are available and can be purchased for under $100 in 2018… I changed some of them from 2017’s list for some reasons including eliminating certain bottles like ETL, RHF, BTAC, Stagg Jr, etc because the MSRP just rarely is the price you see in stores, at least in the Tri-State area…  These are in no particular order.  I also realize every is going to have a different list here, and please add anything you think should be on here in comments!  Happy New Year everyone!!

Buffalo Trace… yes, the original one that retails for $30.  It’s the same mashbill that goes into bottles that are 1k’s of dollars in secondary, same distillery.  Whether it’s straight or in a cocktail, it’s lovely.  Always make sure you have at least one of them on your bar at all times.

Barrell Bourbon Batches… I’ve never had a batch I didn’t like.  I’ve had some that I’d LOVED.  The only one that was impossible to find was Batch 011, because it won best Bourbon of the Year from San Francisco Wine & Spirits.  At least one batch is usually available at my local store, it looks great, a perfect gift and a wonderful drinker.  You will not be disappointed.

Foursquare 2004 or 2005… cask strength, usually $60-$90, and yes, it’s a Rum!  Aged in Bourbon barrels and others, non-chill filtered, so much flavor.  These guys are the real deal.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof… I almost didn’t put this on the list, but it seems like this is more frequent this year and I usually see it on the shelf.  I’ve never had a bad one, and I’ve had quite a few good ones.  I prefer the old bottle design, but if they are making more of them with the new bottle, I’m OK with that.  Last year I had Old Weller Antique on the list, but given I can never find it anymore without texting my local liquor store owner ahead of time, I’m bumping them for ECBP due to 2018’s availability.  Should be around $60-$70.

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Bourbon… didn’t make the cut last year, just squeezed in this year and at $65, a solid member of the list.  I find that the first crack is just ok, but if you leave it open for a few months it gets a lot better… if I were to re-rate it, I’d say it’s a solid 92.  Worth having on your home bar.

You don’t need to buy Pappy or BTAC to make the people on your list happy!  Anything on this list will show you know your whiskey and you care about making your friends and family happy.  Happy New Year!

Barrell Craft Spirits Bourbon: Fred Minnick’s number 1 of the year reviewed

I’ve been following this release on social media with tons of anticipation and I was hoping to quietly accumulate a large amount of them for the bunker until…. Fred Minnick ruined everything. Why couldn’t he have waited to rate this number one in a blind tasting against some big heavyweights like BTAC George T Stagg and William Larue Weller. Anyone who follows this blog knows I’ve been on the Barrell Bourbon train for a while and love that you can always find a Batch or single barrel for under $100. And the best part is you never need to get in line or pay through the nose on secondary for one… except for this realease. I paid $250 at retail for this but the good news is that the regular batch prices have not gone up and are still readily available. Thank goodness!!  Now… is this special release worth the extra money???

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On to the review…. 15yr Bourbon blended from Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, bottled at 105.1 Proof. The box looks sleek and smart and the gray label looks awesome. I also really like the new cork design with extra weight and easier to remove from the bottle. Nice touch. It’s also a dark amber color in the bottle giving away the 15yrs of age.

The nose is strong but not hot, with marzipan (of course), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Necco Wafers, toasted and butter cinnamon raisin bread, s’mores and caramel hard candy. Just so much going on and even more after the bottle was opened for a few days. First crack didn’t do it justice.

The taste… wow! This Bourbon has the biggest mouthfeel and longest finish of anyone I’ve tasted all year. I stopped counting after three minutes but it was sweet and complex and never faded to bitterness. What more can you ask for in a whiskey?

This Bourbon is 100% worth the hype. I just wish Fred Minnick didn’t let the cat out of the bag until my bunker was full. Now I need to beg all my liquor store contacts to try to get another bottle as this one is already half empty! 98/100

If $250 (or higher on secondary) is too much for you, the recent batches have been really good and totally worth picking up too.  But If you can find it for anywhere under $300, grab it, because the last print on secondary I saw was $400 and going higher!  I’m going to put out reviews on the Rum and the Whiskey soon which I think are even rarer and harder to get a hold of!

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2017’s Top 5 Bourbons & Whiskies Under $100

I’m using the secondary prices (which are very close to MSRP for these picks) for this list as nothing bothers me more than someone saying at $89.99 MSRP Sazerac 18 is their favorite bottle under $100.  Get real guys!  The secondary market is here to say and you might as well just get used to it. Also… only two here are actually Bourbons, I have one rum, one rye and one corn whiskey… but who’s really counting?

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Barrell Bourbon is the winner here, although it is the most expensive of this list.  Usually retailing for around $80, they consistently beat out bottles that you can’t touch on the secondary for 2-4x the price.  While they still are priced under $100, stock up. MSRP $80.

Pikesville is my favorite rye under $100.  115 proof, delicious.  Thank you Heaven Hill!  Second year in a row it continues to be available, awesome and affordable.  MSRP $60.

Foursquare Rum 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection… Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.  Thanks for Fred Minnick for tipping me off to this one.  Yes, it’s not a Bourbon, but it’s aged in ex-Bourbon casks and is just as delicious. Order one today! MSRP $60.

Old Weller Antique 107 Store Pick Non-Chill Filtered.  Make friends with your local liquor store owner.  Beg them to get a bottle of OWA NCF, ask to buy 4 of them when they come in.  Best $35 you can spend.  MSRP $35.

Mellow Corn.  I’m sorry, you may think I’m nuts by putting this on the list, but for $9.99, bottled in bond, again, thank you Heaven Hill.  This is my go-to after I’m three sheets to the wind and shouldn’t be touching the top shelf stuff, because it holds up and still has a good taste. MSRP $9.99.

Honorable mention goes to Old Forester 1920 Prohibition.  It should have been the number five on the list, but I just couldn’t help myself by putting on Mellow Corn instead.

Agree?  Disagree?  Continue the discussion on my Twitter @newbourbondrink or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/newbourbondrinker/

 

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/mellow-corn-must-have-for-all-bars/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/old-weller-antique-ninety-9-single-barrel/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/pikesville-rye-2-of-the-year/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/4-new-releases-from-barrell-bourbon/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/barrell-bourbon-lucky-013/

http://www.heavenhill.com  http://www.barrellbourbon.com  https://www.rumsixtysix.comfoursquare-rum-distillery.html/

The Hits Just Keep on Coming… Barrell Bourbon Batch 012

Batch 12 is the most recent release from Barrell Bourbon, just off the heels of their best Bourbon of the year award from San Francisco Ultimate Spirits (http://www.fredminnick.com/2017/04/27/shocking-whiskey-upsets-17-san-fran-world-spirits-comp/). I also was a huge fan of Batch 011 (link). I think I have a future as a spirits judge…

Batch 12 is quite a bit older than 11 coming in at 9 years, but is lower proof, 108.5. I’m not sure, but this might be the lowest proof they have ever released.

The nose on this one is completely different than any previous batch I have tried. This one is a complete fruit bomb: plums, dried cherries, orange peel, hints of graham cracker and brioche. Very little heat on the nose.

Great oils and tannins on the mouthfeel with a wonderful spiciness I didn’t get first on the nose. Getting the fruit and more on the palate. Warmer than expected, in a good way.  The finish is at least two minutes long.

This is a really solid follow up to Batch 011. While most of the stores I go to have sold out of Batch 011, if you buy 012, you won’t be disappointed. It might be enjoyed even more by people who don’t like their Bourbon at 135 proof–probably is more approachable to most whiskey consumers. 94/100.

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https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/newest-barrell-bourbon-batch-is-a-home-run-011/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/05/14/barrell-bourbon-batch-10/

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches