Barrell Bourbon was on a roll in 2018. All of their bourbon batch releases were released as blends of multiple distillery’s distillate as they began to fine-tune what they wanted their portfolio to look like. Mainly, their bourbon batches were being blended with the idea of nailing down a certain classic characteristic of bourbon and blending together batches that highlighted it.
Batch 014 highlighted baking spices whereas Batch 016 was blended to be a toasted orange peel bonanza (and it was). So when they released Batch 017, Barrell declared that they were honing in on a profile of what old-style bourbon would’ve tasted like decades ago, which highlighted fruits (tropical fruits in particular). This made sense to me as I recently had a pour of Old Granddad Bourbon from the 1950’s and the fruit intensity was strange, magical and captivating all at once. There was nothing in common with what Old Granddad tastes like today.
With that in mind, Batch 017 was a bottle I immediately had to seek out. Like all things containing Dickel distillate, I highly recommend that you start your drinking session with it first in order to fully taste the entire profile that they were aiming for. Drinking anything else before this will throw your palate off and you may not experience what I experienced here. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: The very first note was unmistakable: toasted coconut. It swirls around with dark fruits and toasted almonds. I also get some baked good scents with chocolate muffins and light brown sugar. Then I get some slight toasted oak which is probably coming from the fairly old selection of barrels that were being blended here. The nose is as unique as it is delicious.
Palate: The palate tastes like a tropical dream. There’s brown sugar, spicy papaya, sweet cherry, coconut meat, and vanilla Crème Brule. There’s even some nice depth to the dram with sweet oak, baking spices and some black pepper flakes.
Finish: The finish gives some hints at the Dickel distillate hiding within with a bit of graphite minerality that tingles the inside of your cheeks. There’s that coconut again, but it’s still accompanied with other fruits like dried apricots and pineapple pieces. The semi-sweet chocolate, wet tobacco, cinnamon and hint of cardamom add a nice complexity to the fruits while some drying wood char shortens up the finish somewhat quickly.
In my early days of drinking, I thought much less of this bourbon than I do now (my previous rating was a 7.5). The flavors and softer profile of this bourbon really does feel like a step back in time. I can’t think of any other distillers that put out a product that comes close to what this bottle contains, and that’s reason enough to buy it right now. But the guys at Barrell did it!
They truly find ways to take barrels that, by themselves, were probably useless. But the sum of the parts is always greater with these guys and they’ve got a great product. I would highly recommend buying this one before they’re gone for good.
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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