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Barrell Bourbon Batch 002 Review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 002 Review

Following on the heels of Barrell’s inaugural release, Batch 002 looked similar enough outwardly to the casual observer.  It was also from Tennessee and aged for 5 years.  The proof was about 4 points lower than Batch 001, but at roughly 117.8 proof, was still a potent barrel proof bourbon.  At the time of its release, not much was known about it except for the description on the website proclaiming that it was designed to balance a notes of “oak and leather” while still maintaining a bright profile.  While “bright” is hard to explain in words, typically you want a proof that’s high enough to help the flavors feel concentrated, but not too high to where they get too hot or allow the spice to become excessive.  There is also a lightness on the tongue that does not get smothered with too much sweetness or dark, heavy flavors.  

Barrell proudly lists all of the awards or recognitions it gets from publications and competitions on its website next to the batches, but Batch 002 has none.  This was in Barrell’s early days, so it’s possible that there was more at play than simply a bad batch like maybe a lack of entries to those competitions or not enough marketing.  So I’m going to sample this bottle to find out how it compares with the rest of the lineup and see if it deserves any more recognition than it originally got.  I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn

Tasting Notes

Nose: Much like Batch 001, my nose is filled with the aromas of warm cornbread from the oven with whipped cinnamon butter melting on the top.  There are some nice fruit flavors, which are a nice Dickel trait that we see in this unique mashbill.  I get strawberry compote as well as apple pie filling from a can.  This is one of the few Barrell batches where I can definitively put my finger on the scent of marzipan, which leans heavily towards the sweet almond extract that it is made with.  And although I wouldn’t go as far as to say I can detect caramel sauce on the nose, there is definitely some deep caramelized sugars within.  

Palate: The palate starts out spicy and bold with some sharp cinnamon.  And although the spice builds the longer you sip, it does not cover up the fruit notes that shine through like orange peel and spiced cherries.  There is an element of ginger preserves and sweet mint that I think gives this dram some of that increased spice while also highlighting some additional sweetness.  It’s easy to get lost in the bigger flavors, but if you do search enough in the background, you get a nice vanilla creme brulee taste as well.

Finish:  The finish has more of the spice from the palate but turns it down a notch into a nice smoldering burn, like red pepper flakes and ginger root.  Bolder flavors are still pleasant like black pepper, dry leather and some tobacco leaf.  There is a sweet table syrup with flecks of barrel char that coats your throat and back of the tongue and keeps the finish from becoming too dry.  

Score: 8/10

Batch 002 was always looked at as the black sheep of the initial 5 batches that Barrell put out.  But if you look past the fact it won no awards and received no recognition, you may be able to see the character of this liquid for what it is; rich, flavorful and layered.  The best parts about Batch 001 and 002 is that these barrels were so well picked, that I could not detect any trademark Dickel vitamin notes.

Final Thoughts

Overall this bottle was spicier and a bit dryer than Batch 001, but that’s not a terrible deal breaker on this one because the other flavors and notes bolster it so well.  Batch 002 may also be hard to find in the year 2020 because it is now 6 years old and it was not a large batch in the first place, but if you ever run across it, it’s a great bottle to get acquainted with.

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Ratings Breakdown

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)

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