Barrell Bourbon is one of the more transparent Non-Distiller Producers (NDPs) in the landscape right now. Sometimes as they’re blending and releasing their batches, they tell a little story of how each batch came to be or what they were striving for when a particular batch was made. When Barrell launched Batch 007b, they explained that they had leftover barrels of bourbon from Batch 007 that they didn’t use and were driving them around on a truck from warehouse to the facility they batch and experiment with their whiskies.
When they took it off the truck, they claimed something interesting happened between the extra months it had rested and the truck drive over that had mellowed out the distillate even more and reduced the proof in the process. Instead of naming it Batch 008, they labeled it with a “b” designator after the original batch because they wanted to show that the same barrels were used, but there would be some subtle differences.
Fast forward to Batch 008b and we notice that the same thing may have happened here. Whereas Batch 008 was one of the highest proofs of any Barrell Bourbon batches (132.8 proof), Batch 008b cooled off a bit to 128.3 proof. It also clocks in at 10 years old compared to Batch 008’s age statement of 9 years old.
So what can we expect from Barrell’s second highest proofed batched bourbon? I poured a sample neat and in a Glencairn to find out.
Nose: Thick and rich nougat and caramel. The oak spice is sweet and pungent as well. Everything is amplified with this proof though, even the vanilla. There is a big chunk of warm buttered cornbread that I find with a lot of Dickel distillate, but it does not detract from the nose.
Palate: Even for 128+ proof, this is a remarkably composed bourbon. There’s lots of cinnamon spice and caramel fudge. There is also a nice fruit sweetness like a handful of golden raisins. The high proof makes itself known with a blast of red pepper flakes and a building heat that will begin to overwhelm the tongue of more experienced drinkers after about 15 seconds of rolling it around in your mouth.
Finish: Sometimes with Dickel distillate, tannins can be a bit hard to find. Not here though as tobacco and oak are both very present. There’s also the signature sweetness and nuttiness of a Charleston Chew as well as a slight hint of banana and raisins. The heat is still present from the palate with hot cinnamon spice and pepper flakes.
Big, bold and rich. This is the quintessential Dickel high-rye bourbon mashbill. It has no faults, just lacking a little bit of complexity throughout. It’s well aged and impresses with a balance that you wouldn’t think could come with its high proof. The vitamin note is restrained enough by the heat that some people may not peg this for Dickel distillate until the curtain is pulled back.
There hasn’t been any high-proofed *and* well aged bourbon batches released by Barrell in the recent years, so if you want to taste some of the biggest and best, Batch 008b may be your best bet.
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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