When you hear people use the phrase “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” you probably can relate with the reduction in quality of modern-day products.
But if you hear it said “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” in the case of Barrell Batch 008, they’re not talking quality, but instead proof.
Clocking in a 132.84 proof, this proof monster has been the hottest batch of whiskey that Barrell has put out to date and probably ever again.
In fact, at the time of this writing, Barrell has only released 3 out of their last 16 batches of bourbon with an alcohol content that was higher than 120 proof (and remember, every bottle that Barrell releases is at cask strength).
Distilled in Tennessee and aged for 9.5 years (even though the label says 9 years), this was also the oldest batch of bourbon put out by Barrell at the time.
If you know much about batched products, you’ll know that not every barrel that was used for it was the exact same proof. The final proof is more of an average of every barrel that was dumped into the vat.
So it can legitimately be believed that there were some 140 proof (HAZMAT) barrels that probably made the cut to get into this batch.
I would’ve loved to taste some of those in single barrel form, but now I’ll have to taste them in this batch instead. So with that said, let’s dive in and see what this batch has to offer. Is the heat going to be too much? Let’s find out! I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
There’s also vanilla cupcakes and baked apples with cinnamon sprinkled on top. This is a pungent nose of sweet treats that virtually overwhelms any other scents from coming forward.
Palate: The high proof heat that I was bracing for turns out to be well controlled. It doesn’t really come off as a 132+ proof drinker, but more like maybe 115 to 120 proof.
This will be a relief to more inexperienced bourbon drinkers. Peanut butter fudge is present on my tongue just like it was on the nose. There is a sort of Rice-Krispy Treat Square marshmallow sweetness that’s also present, which is extremely rare for Dickel distillate.
I’m also detecting yet another layer of sweetness in the form of caramel sauce. All of these sweets still haven’t drowned out the potent fall-time baking spices that I’m picking up on like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It’s not the most layered and complex palate out there, but it’s potent and satisfying.
Finish: The rye content shows through on the finish with some strong peppermint notes and Mike & Ike’s candies. The peanut butter fudge on the nose and palate morphs into more of a peanut brittle here on the finish.
But what I was really waiting for in the nose and palate, namely some tannins, finally shows up in the form of a very woody oak note. The oak actually goes on for a long time, becoming mellower with every sip. The finish is one of my favorite parts about this dram.
Barrell’s Batch 008 is big and powerful but not as hot as I was expecting. With so many sweet treat notes, I will fondly remember this one as a “Halloween Bourbon.”
Ultimately, I think that Barrell’s second iteration of this bourbon, Batch 008b, was better in the fact that the proof had settled down a little bit more and the extra half-year it spent in a barrel really improved it and allowed it to develop more complex flavors than Batch 008 did.
What you’re getting with Batch 008 is a straightforward, high proof heavyweight hitter that would be fun to put up against the likes of an Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or a Stagg Jr. Batch.
And although it may fall short against those two, it’s a terrific comparison to see just what exactly separates Tennessee bourbon from the rest of the pack.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.