Quick Review: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel 7C10

I need to get more of these Barrell Bourbon single barrels. The batches are still my favorite, but the subtle differences in the single barrels are incredibly interesting. I admit I only have a few of the single barrels but I definitely will try to find more store picks.

Dark Amber color. Incredibly smooth nose. Butterscotch, buttered toast, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Very inviting.

Crazy good mouthfeel. Finish goes on for 2 minutes. Nice complex flavors from the nose.

Really good bourbon. Won’t be too long before this bottle is empty. 95/100.

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Barrell Bourbon Lucky 013

My batch 011 and 012 are almost empty so I need a new bottle of Barrell Bourbon! This is the first Bourbon batch they have released that is from two different states: Tennessee and Indiana. (They have released Barrell Whisky and the New Years Bourbon from multiple distillation states, but this is the first of their flagship Bourbon line.) 5yrs in barrel and bottled at 113 proof.

Graham cracker s’mores, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cracked walnut, caramel, vanilla, maple syrup and roasted almonds. Modest heat on the nose even though it’s cask strength.

Really good mouthfeel–really coats the tongue. Covers the entire mouth flowing over the sides not just lingering on the back. Enjoyable warmth throughout but not hot at all. The taste focuses on the center of the tongue with roasted and sweet flavors with the spicy notes coming in later. This is a 2-3 minute finish and you can’t even take another sip until you get the entire life cycle of the sip.

This is another epic release from the folks at Barrell Bourbon. Joe and Trip should really be proud of themselves with this release as the blend is really nice using barrels from two different distilleries to marry into one beautiful release. 96/100

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http://www.barrellbourbon.com

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbon

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches

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

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/the-hits-just-keep-on-coming-barrell-bourbon-batch-012/

 

Newest Barrell Bourbon Batch is a Home Run: 011

Let’s just get to the review… Iconic Barrell Bottle, this is the 11th Bourbon release.  This one, and I’m pulling the details right from their website (http://www.barrellbourbon.com/bourbonbatches) is: Straight Bourbon Whiskey​, Distilled and aged in Tennessee, Crafted and bottled in Kentucky, 114.8 proof cask strength bottling, Aged for 6 years in American oak barrels, and Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley.

The aroma jumps out of the glass with Honey Nut Cheerios, Jif, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chip pancakes with maple syrup with a side of cinnamon toast.  You can feel the heat, but the warmth is a secondary factor that adds, rather than subtracts to the experience.

WOW.  The mouthfeel is incredible, and all the flavors on the nose are coming in really strongly through the mouth and the finish just goes on and on.  The warmth on your chest after the first taste makes you know this is a barrel proof whiskey, but only adds to the experience, and is the background to the flavor.  This Bourbon has a several minute finish with the oils and tannins following through.  You don’t even need to add a drop of water to this, it’s perfect the way it is.

This might just be my favorite Barrell Bourbon release since Batch 006.  This is one I’m going to stockpile.  I still love that the rest of the world hasn’t yet caught on to this brand, so you can still find a bottle of these at the store for under $100.  Still the best limited release cask strength product under $100 on the market.  98/100.

 

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Top 5 Drams of the Year 2016

Another year gone by and I’ve read so many negative stories, yet, there were some pretty awesome bourbons released this year.  Overall the prices have gone up, but you can still find bargains and making friends with your local retailer has never been more important… onto the list!

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#1 2016’s Buffalo Trace Thomas H Handy 126.2 proof 97.5/100  secondary price: $300 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/btac-thomas-h-handy-2016/)  This was my favorite of the BTAC releases, with a close second being GTS, but THH is far easier to get your hands on and better price giving it the edge.  Handy may be the BTAC that is least respected, but time and time again it is my favorite release.

#2 2016 Release Four Roses Elliott’s Select OESK 52.9% abv 91/100 secondary price $225 (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/four-roses-elliotts-select/)  There was a lot of worry when Jim Rutledge retired from Four Roses, but when Brent Elliott came out with this bottle immediately afterwards, all fears were assuaged.  In fact, this bottle was substantially better than the 2016 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition release, although not quite as good as last year’s winner, the 2015 FRSBLE.  I think we can all sleep soundly knowing that Four Roses is in good hands.

3# Barrell Bourbon New Years 2017 retail price $99.99 (for now!) (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/happy-new-year-barrell-bourbon-2017/)  Another top award for this up and comer.  This is their first true marriage release of 4 different barrels from Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, and once again blows the competition away.  Grab a few while you still can as the first release of this bad boy probably will be worth a lot of money in the near future…. keep your eye

#4 Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon #438 119.8 proof 96/100 $120 @ gift shop (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/willett-family-estate-single-barrel-bourbon-438-holy-moley/)  This was one of the bottles I was lucky enough to buy when I visited Willett in January of 2016.  This was a honey barrel if I’ve ever tasted one.  If you are ever able to get some of this, don’t hesitate!

#5 Garrison Brothers Single Barrel Bourbon #3824 97 proof 96/100 $100 retail price (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/go-visit-garrison-brothers-single-barrel-amazing/) Garrison Brothers consistently puts out a great product.  I also visited their distillery this year and really enjoyed meeting Dan and the team.  Very excited to see the 2017 Cowboy Bourbon when it is released next year!

There were so many that almost made the cut… I tried a couple rums this year that were really good including one from Balcones (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/balcones-texas-rum-special-release-batch-15-1-63-9-abv/) and another from Barrell (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/barrell-rum-batch-001-7yr-jamaican-pot-still-rum/).  Barrell’s Whiskey 002 was another one that almost made the cut, but after careful consideration I preferred the New Years (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/barrell-whiskey-002-magical-sherry-cask-finish/).  Most lists have Booker’s Rye on their top 5, and although it is a good whiskey, it’s just too hot and expensive and does not deserve to make it in my very humble opinion (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/bookers-rye/).  PHC 10yr was also hotly debated, and I thought it was extremely good, but given the price, just not quite worthy vs the Garrison or the WFE (https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/phc10-parkers-heritage-collection-10-24yr-bourbon/).

I’ll have my top five disappointments in the world of bourbon coming up soon… thanks again for a great 2016 to everyone who reads this blog.  Readership has gone up 5x and I hope to continue that trend into 2017.  I’d love to hear what your top 5 of the year were?  Happy New Year!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/  http://www.garrisonbros.com/  http://www.kentuckybourbonwhiskey.com/  http://fourrosesbourbon.com/  https://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/

Barrell Bourbon Batch 009: 13yrs!!!

The newest release from Barrell Bourbon is a 13yr Straight Bourbon Tennessee Whiskey, and is the oldest to date.  It’s a dark caramel color, in the classic BB bottle.  This one is bottled at one of their lower proofs, 112.1.  Never chill filtered, bottled at cask strength, just the way Bourbon should be…

The nose has a sweet caramel popcorn nose, graham cracker s’mores, crispy apple tart, rock dust, cedar bbq chips and cheerios.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by now with Barrell Bourbon, but there is almost no heat on the nose at all.

Down the hatch… the taste is great, getting all the flavors from the nose on the palate with a great mouthfeel as well.  It really coats the tongue and brings in a peanut butter aftertaste, and like peanut butter, sticks to the top of the mouth finishing for well over a minute, with a very enjoyable warming.

I posted this photo for this review, not just because I like #bourbonporn and #bbqporn but because I thought this bourbon was the perfect pairing for a nice long smoked rack of ribs in my green egg.  Thirteen years is a long time for any bourbon, and quite rare to find one at under $100 that is this good.  This bourbon is also so much better after you have opened it for a few hours or even days.  When I first opened it I thought this was going to be a high 80’s or maybe low 90’s rated whiskey, but after a while this baby really opens up.  I also am generally not a fan of adding water, but a couple drops really helps this bourbon evolve.  Like a great rack of ribs, it takes all day, and evolves by the end of the day.  I’m definitely grabbing a couple extra bottles of this one to put into the bunker, I mean, 13yr cask strength bourbon for under $100?!?!?  95.5/100

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Barrell Bourbon Batch 008

I’ve reviewed the offerings from Barrell Craft Spirits a few times on this blog and I am consistently impressed by all of their whiskeys.  My preference for whiskey is bourbon, specifically cask strength.  I also love having private single barrels or different batches, where I get to try a new permutation of the distiller or blenders vision each time, instead of exactly the same thing each time.  Every year BTAC comes out with something slightly different and yet still awesome.  The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to get at a reasonable price and paying $500+ a bottle is just not doable for an everyday drinker.  WFE used to be reasonable, but secondary prices on the good ones have skyrocketed.  Even EH Taylor barrel proof is getting hard to find, but I find them to be too hot anyway.  That’s why I love Barrell Bourbon so much: it’s great, it’s cask strength, and it’s available (for now) so you don’t need to pay through the nose in the secondary market and feel bad about drinking it every day.

Now on to BB-8… the newest release and the oldest bourbon they have released thus far.  Classic looking bottle, great dark amber color.

The nose is very complex, with chunky peanut butter, light tobacco leaves, butterscotch, anise, hints of buttered popcorn and some hickory lump charcoal in the background.  Very inviting and not at all hot, especially considering it is 132.8 proof.

Captivatingly smooth, yet still spicy and sharp with some good tannins and clearly a non-chill filtered bottling.  Good oils and weight provide a very long finish and warm follow through.  If I had to guess I would have thought this was closer to 100 proof given the lack of upfront heat.  Very well done.

This is the reason I’m so glad I have found Barrell Bourbon, it saves me to much money by buying these great batches and not overpaying for BTAC or other highly priced, impossibly allocated Bourbons.  Batch 008 gets a solid 95/100.

Can’t wait for batch 009, I heard it’s going to be over 10yrs old!!!!

http://www.barrellbourbon.com

http://www.barrellbourbon.com/batch-008

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2016 Whisky Jewbilee and Event Tasting Strategy

The 5th Annual Whisky Jewbilee was my first time attending this cool New York City event… I brought a few clients and friends with me to enjoy the fun.  As part of any large tasting, you need to have a game plan ahead of time—know where the rare bottles are and hit them first.

A huge mistake rookies make is trying to be very polite and going through the whole vertical.  I totally understand being polite, going through each one and hearing why the 10yr is so great.  But… there will be time for that at the end of the evening if you really care.  There were about 6 Scotches that were 25yrs or older and they were all gone within the first 30 minutes, so if you didn’t hit them first, you missed out.  Fortunately for me and my friends, I had them all mapped out and we were able to try them all.  To be honest though, a the selection of 25yr Scotch didn’t really excite me…

I’m much more of a bourbon fan than scotch, so I was hoping for something special underneath the tables, that wasn’t on the original tasting list.  There were three tables that really stepped it up in my opinion:

Skinner Auctions brought a bunch of dusties including a 1970s Stitzel-Weller Cabin Still decanter.  Only a 4-5yr bourbon, but so incredibly smooth.  And to get the chance to try anything from Stitzel-Weller is welcomed.  I went back for five pours, which probably was overkill, but almost no one was hitting this table, so it was a hidden gem.

For all the negative things I have written about Balcones over the years, they actually stepped it up at this tasting.  I tried their normal products, and again, I really didn’t like them.  I had never tried their Brimstone, and I think that might be my least favorite one of theirs of all time—just horrible.  However… when I asked if they had anything under the table, I was very pleasantly surprised.  Winston Edwards (the brand ambassador) pulled a new product, the Balcones Texas Rum Special Release 63.9% abv.  He said it was mostly a 3.5yr rum blended with some younger ones.  This product blew me away.  Great mouthfeel, such rich notes, just a tremendous amount of complexity and length.  This was so good I bought two bottles online and can’t wait to try it at home and do a proper tasting.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a full review on this rum.

The other favorite table was Barrell Bourbon.  Joe Beatrice brought both whiskey batches, including the sherry cask Batch 002, which was a top 5 of the night as well as Batch 006 and Batch 007.  They also has a special Batch 007b, which apparently was the same barrels from Batch 007, but bottled a few months later, so a little more age, and slightly different proof, but everything else the same.  Very tasty.  I love when the presenters have a little something special under the table if you ask nicely–thank you Joe!

I was very disappointed by a lot of the other bourbon tables, especially Four Roses, Bookers, Basil Hayden, Bakers, etc… they just brought their normal bottles.  Four Roses should have at least brought the Elliot’s Select, but just brought their normal ones.  For a tasting, they should have stepped up their game a little bit.  If I wanted a glass of Basil Hayden, I could just go to any bar, their performance was not exciting.  For next year, hopefully the larger brands lose the attitude and bring something a little special.

At the end of the evening, my clients and friends had a great time, we all drank quite a bit of very good whiskey and I even got to meet Mark Gillespie from WhiskyCast which was a treat.  Because it wasn’t in a proper tasting setting, I am not going to give any grades but the top drams of the night, not in any order were: Stitzel-Weller Cabin Still 1970’s dusty, Barrell Bourbon Batch 006, Barrell Whiskey Batch 002, Balcones Texas Rum Special Release, Balvenie 25.

 

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