4 New Releases from Barrell Bourbon!

Barrell Craft Spirits remains one of my favorite brands and they continue to put out consistently excellent products at reasonable prices, with good availability and you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal to get them. To me, it’s the best secret left in Bourbon Hunting. I have put a bunch of previous batches away in my bunker because each one is unique and only released once. I was able to grab four new releases at once and thought instead of doing four reviews I’d do one mega review:


Barrell Bourbon New Year 2018: 55.6% ABV and a marriage of barrels from TN, KY, IN, TX and NY. It has an incredibly sweet nose. French toast, Necco wafers, Twizzlers, Butterfigers, yellow flowers, dried cherry pits and creme brule. Almost no heat on nose at all. Wow so easy going down and lots going on. More nuts on the palate than I was getting on the nose and really enjoyable heat in the chest. Solid mouthfeel with the needed oils and tannins following through with a good finish. Really nice special edition. This is the one I’ve had the hardest time finding but if you can get it for a reasonable price, buy two or three. 96/100.

Barrell Rye Batch 002: 5yrs old and 117.5 Proof. I’ve never had a rye distilled in Poland so this is pretty exciting. It is married with an Indiana (MGP?) one which I always enjoy. When I first opened it up the aroma was muted so I waited a few minutes to give it some air. After some time notes of honey suckle, cracked pepper, rock candy and biscotti came through. I decided to wait on this one and try again a week later because I could tell is was still tight–maybe from the plane from Poland?  Easy on the way down with great salted caramel flavor I missed on the nose coupled with strong spiciness.  When I initially opened this rye, it was tight and unforgiving; after a week it’s totally different and the finish goes on for several minutes completely enveloping the tongue. I’ve never had a rye like this before and I’m excited to drink it. I bet that this will continue to evolve in the bottle over the next month or two as I drink it down. 94/100.

Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands: 8yrs old and bottled at 132.8 Proof. Jamaican pot Still, same source as Batch 001 finished is Islay Scotch casks. I really liked last year’s release: brown sugar, tropical fruits, coconut shavings, white flowers and molasses. This one is very similar to last year but much less heat on the nose. The extra year of aging in the Scotch casks really smoothed this one out even better without the peat taking over. The taste is great, sweet and tropical, and it is shocking how at this proof for a rum the heat is so mellow. The finish goes on for at least two minutes. Great rum and if you liked last year’s release you’ll love this one. I’m hearing it’s very limited release, so buy all that you can. 96/100.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 014: 54.7% ABV and from a blend of KY and TN specially selected barrels of at least 9yrs old. Medium dark amber color. Really nice nutty nose, Jif peanut butter, roasted walnuts, crushed almonds, buttered cinnamon bread and Honey Nut Cheerios. Almost no heat on the nose which is crazy for this Proof.  Solid mouthfeel and good finish. The gentle warmth filters through the chest as the finish elongates. The palate gets hints of salted caramel and nuts on the way down. Another very good release from Barrell Bourbon, readily available and at a reasonable price. I’m buying one to drink now, one for next month and one for the bunker. 95/100.










Barrell Bourbon Batch 014 Review



Jack Rose: Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel

Barrell Bourbon single barrel 7B24 9yrs bottle #4:
Golden hue. Big nose, nutty, Reese’s peanut butter cups, graham crackers, marshmallows and Twix. 130.64 proof and the mouthfeel is great. Heat is contained. Flavor is explosive. Amazing bourbon. Not quite to the level of the Willett 23yr but a fraction of the cost. 96/100.


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!


#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/

Booker’s 2015-06

Booker’s is usually my go to bourbon when I go to a bar in NYC because it’s usually priced around the same as its 80-90 proof brothers, yet has ~40% more booze in it. I’m always looking for the arb.

This Booker’s is the sixth and final release from 2015. It is a 6 year, 8 month and 7 day old bourbon bottled at 128.1 proof.  This one is called “Noe Secret” and has a drawing of a message in a bottle.

Booker’s always has a dark amber color and this batch is no different. It has a tint of orange in it as well.

On the nose I get Cinnamon Toast Crunch, candied apple, butterscotch candy and dried orange with cloves.  The heat is strong like most Booker’s are, but smoother than most.

The mouthfeel had a thickness to it that is very enjoyable. The cloves and dried orange are the notes that come through most on the palate. The finish is good but after a while, it turns to just heat.

I’ve never had a Booker’s that I have disliked but, aside from the 25th anniversary that I only had once at a bar, I’ve never been blown away by it; this one is no different. Enjoyable dram, I’m glad I bought it, but I won’t be stockpiling this batch in my bunker. 89/100.



RIP My First BTAC Bottle: George T Stagg 2014 UK

True Story:  I’m in London last September for a business trip to see a couple clients, meet my colleagues in the office and travel with my new boss.  The first evening of the trip is for internal meetings, meeting colleagues I had not met before and building camaraderie with them.  Part of my job was to not get too drunk and look professional.  My tolerance happens to be extremely high compared to most of my colleagues, so not getting too drunk wasn’t an impossibility, however the professional aspect may have been slightly derailed because of some BTAC… at this point I had not owned any BTAC bottles (that changed later that Fall when BTAC hunting season began and my obsession on this blog expanded)….

I was at a bar with some colleagues that was selling Pappy 10, 12, 13, and George T Stagg, per pour, for less that I could buy it for on the secondary market in the states.  So… I ended up with three pours of bourbon in front of me during dinner.  Not the best way to impress colleagues, but I had never had Lot B, Pappy Rye or Stagg before, so emotions (understandably to you reading this blog, although not to those at the table) overtook me.

By the end of the night, I managed to not get too drunk and we all parted ways. After leaving the restaurant and all the hand shaking, I did a u-turn back to the bar and entered negotiations with the bartender.  The bottle was 1/4 full and I did the math and negotiated to buy the rest of it for less than 1/4 of a full bottle would cost me back at home.  My boss, smarter, soberer, sneakier than I, followed me back to the bar, scolded me, and forced me to return to the hotel before I inflict too much damage to myself, knowing that in addition to buying this bottle, I probably was going to try every other unicorn for pour that night.  (Side Note: good thing he did, because I probably would have stayed there for a couple hours and really did myself in.  He’s quite a good boss and almost always knows what’s best for the firm and his employees, myself included, even if it’s more fun to keep drinking.)

Which leads me to today… after many small pours over six months, this bottle is finally being put to rest.  And I will be giving it a review today as well.

George T. Stagg, 2014 UK edition, 138.1 proof: dark amber with tiny bits of charcoal floating in it, at least for the final pour.  Camp fire fresh s’mores on the nose with candied butterscotch, overbaked brown sugar carrots, raisin bread toast with light butter spreaded on it topped with cinnamon and sugar, and a touch of cloves.  For 69.05% alcohol, the burn on the nose is very manageable.  The first thing you get when you take a sip is the extremely thick mouthfeel which just makes me so happy.  The uncut/unfiltered texture is a delight and everything about the taste is interesting, complex and it goes on and on.  The first sip I had months ago was very good, but the last sip was the best.  Maybe it is because there is more charcoal in the final pour or maybe it’s because I’ve already had a few drinks tonight.  All I know is that I wished I kept my trumpet from high school, because this moment deserves someone playing Taps.  This was a great drink and I’m sad to see it finished, but there are many more bottles that need drinking, and I know I’m the man to do it.  97/100.