In early 2018, Barrell Bourbon was feeling their groove as their blended distillates started to become more theme concentrated. The theme for Batch 015 seemed to center around desserts that you’d find being made in kitchens during the holidays. Apple pie, gingerbread and other warm baking spices were the trend. They blended together select 9.5, 10 and 11 year old barrels from Tennessee and Kentucky to come up with this blend and then bottled it slightly above 107 proof.
So how did they do? Let’s pour a glass and find out. I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: The nose has some great deep scents of caramel. There’s a spiced cider scent that lingers around too with extra emphasis on the cinnamon stick. Chocolate is a scent I wasn’t expecting, but it’s got a peculiar kick to it, much like a hint of smoke mixed within. There’s also a scent of a handful of roasted mixed nuts.
Palate: The palate has some great sweet dessert notes of streusel with raisins, apples and cherries. There is some heat lurking around in the form of smoldering chili powder. However, for the age of the barrels that were used, there is not much tannic notes on the palate and if there is, those sweet streusel notes are keeping them at bay.
Finish: The finish is almost a complete 180 from what the palate was. I was expecting more sweet fruits, but to my surprise, I get almost none. The roasted mixed nuts from the nose re-appear and this time, it’s like they’ve been burnt a little bit. There’s some vanilla, which I wasn’t getting a lot of before, but it’s quickly enveloped by black pepper flakes and dry tobacco leaf. Overall, the finish is nice and layered, but it makes me wonder where all the sweetness went.
Barrell Bourbon Batch 015 gives the drinker a lot of complex notes that seem to be in the right spot at the right time. The nose is sweet and fragrant, which draws you in. The palate has that great fruity streusel note on it that makes you want to roll it around in your mouth for a long time (and the low 107 proof allows you to do that) and even the spicy and tannic finish is kind of welcomed because it shows it age and depth. But the one reason why I didn’t rate this bourbon into the realm of “excellent” was because most excellent bourbons I review combine all of those traits into every step of the profile.
Barrell delivers on this batch and it’s worth picking one up if you see it. These have all but disappeared on the shelves in and around Indianapolis, but they make the perfect wintertime pour on snowy days when you just want to relax with some good food and good bourbon by the fire.
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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