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Barrell Bourbon Batch 016 Review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 016 Review

Barrell Bourbon is always concocting new batches that try to highlight a particular trait or traits that they view as desirable in bourbon.  Some batches highlight extreme spices, others highlight tropical fruitiness and some are just a study in complexity.  Batch 016 was blended together using barrels from Tennessee (Dickel), Kentucky (Bulleit perhaps) and Indiana (MGP) that were picked because of a particular toasted orange note they all contained. 

Batch 016

For those of you that are good with picking out flavors in their bourbons, toasted orange (peel) is one of the most desirable fruit flavors in the realm of bourbon, second only to cherry in my opinion.  If you’ve never tasted a toasted orange peel, they are typically found in some Chinese cooking (think: dishes that contain duck) or traditional holiday meats like hams and even some turkeys.  Whenever slow roasting is applied to a dish that has citrus garnish, the outside of the peel gets a charred effect that always releases some bitter and deep sugar effects on the normal citrus profile.  It’s really something.

So when Barrell rolled this batch out, I knew I had to get it because this was going to be something very special and I wanted to taste it for myself.  I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.

Tasting Notes

Nose: There is a distinctive aroma of orange hard candies mixed with wood varnish.  That’s not saying it’s bad, but the nose is sharp and very citrus like.  But there is a nice amount of sweetness in the form of dark brown sugar and molasses layered with some toasted almonds.  There is a distinctive mineral note that is also floating around as well that points squarely at the Dickel barrels that were used in this.  It’s not off-putting though and actually blends quite well with the citrus aromas.

Palate: Lots of orange and lemon zest initially capture my tongues interest.  There’s a little bit of rye spice and heat in the form of ground black pepper and ginger root.  The rye ratio in this dram seems like a decent amount of high-rye KY and IN distillate was used.  I continue to get even more orange treats on my tongue with orange crème candies and orange roll-up bread (similar to pumpkin rolls).  It is sweet and very polarizing.  I like it.   

Finish: The finish sees more of the same from the nose and palate with a bit of orange bitters and dark chocolate.  The age of these barrels makes itself known with a little bit of bitter oak and old, dry leather.  I do detect a really fun flavor on the finish that is very similar to German almond cookies that have a dollop of orange marmalade in the middle.

Rating: 7.8/10

While this wasn’t my favorite Barrell Bourbon out there, it was really fun.  The orange notes seemed to actually cover up a lot of other flavors for me.  This isn’t to say I didn’t find anything else, but whenever I did, the orange was always around the corner waiting to remind me it was there.  I still really like what I tasted and find it somewhat amusing that the tasting notes on Barrell’s website don’t even highlight these orange notes much at all. 

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, these barrels that were chosen for their orange notes would’ve been superb to blend into another bourbon to add some more complexity to them, but maybe Barrell has enough ideas for the time being that they didn’t need to save these anymore.  Still, this bottle delivers a unique sip that you don’t find too often with other distilleries standard products and for that, I applaud Barrell for bringing something this unique to the market.

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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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