It seems like forever since Barrell released Batch 024, which blended together very mature, high-rye bourbon mashbills to create the ultimate spice-forward bourbon.
I thought the end result was fantastic and preemptively named it the best Barrell batched bourbon that would come out in 2020.
Then Barrell 025 comes out and I’m caught completely off-guard to see it listed, publicly and for the first time, that they have blended in a wheated bourbon into the mix.
They may have blended in more than one wheated bourbon if you read between the lines of their website’s description:
Barrell Bourbon Batch 025
“Batch 025 highlights the unique additions that secondary grains contribute to aged bourbon. 13 to 15-year corn-forward bourbons and 5 to 9-year-old wheated bourbons were slowly layered in with a selection of 9-year-old high-rye bourbons, revealing notes from the entire spectrum of available flavors. A portrait of finely tuned blending, Batch 025 is citrusy and peppery, without losing the opulence and oaky ease of the older ingredients.“
I have speculated in the past that I believe Barrell may have blended a wheated bourbon into their Barrell New Year bottlings from 2018 to 2020.
My justification for that stems from their use of bourbon from Texas in that series that is at least 5 years old. You don’t find too many Texas bourbons that have been aged at least 5 years with the exception of the brand “TX Bourbon” which uses a wheated mashbill (their stuff is usually a blend of 3-5 year old bourbons).
But anyway, I digress… the main point I’m trying to make is that I am a little bit excited about which distillery they sourced this wheated bourbon from.
The label shows that this bottle contains distillate from Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, so we can pretty much assume that the “corn-forward 13-15 year old bourbons” that were used are Cascade Hollow (Dickel) because that distillate usually tastes corn-forward.
The 9 year-old High Rye bourbon could literally be from Indiana (MGP bourbons are always high rye regardless of mashbill) or Barton (whose 18% rye bourbon mashbill is still considered high), but what are these 5 and 9 year-old wheated bourbons they’re talking about?
MGP’s wheated bourbon recipe is only at 7 years old right now, meaning that some of them could’ve made up this mashbill, but when it comes to 8 to 9 year old wheated mashbills, who could those be sourced from?
Barton could be an obvious guess since it’s always been assumed that Barrell sources most of their KY bourbon from barton, but you can’t rule out Heaven Hill’s wheated mashbill (which already gets sourced out to Luxco for cheap).
Maker’s Mark might be ruled out as well because their own line doesn’t bottle anything over 7 years (if their spokesmen are to be believed).
But Maker’s Mark does have some bourbon stored in a rickhouse that can be over 10 years old, so maybe it’s not so far fetched after all… So how does this one taste? Let’s dive in and find out! I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: Sweet fruit scents of cherries and oranges right off the bat followed notes of cornbake (cornbread made with creamed corn inside), molasses cookies, Rice Krispy treat squares, gingerbread, cinnamon, and a very soft wood spice note.
Palate: What a thick mouthfeel! This is extremely syrupy, almost pudding-like. There’s a nice peppery spice, but it’s not too hot.
The star of the show is this Tiramisu flavor with emphasis on the espresso beans and cinnamon on top. It’s tremendously addictive. Syrupy, fruit sweetness perks back up with cherry syrup, orange marmalade and a little bit of floral notes like mint jelly can be tasted here and there (probably coming from the high-rye bourbon).
There’s even some fantastic seasoned oak that rounds it out and shows you that this is not a young bourbon like the label may lead you to believe.
Finish: Oak and tobacco grow larger on the finish with a playful orange and citrus jelly spread onto warm biscuits. The finish tones down on the sweetness that was on the palate some, but it doesn’t go bitter or astringent, instead, it allows you to savor the well integrated tannins.
Coconut cream also surprised me at the finish too because I get the smallest hint of something tropical when the oak fades away; it’s unexpected and delicious.
A very small amount of chalkiness, much like an antacid, also seems to hang around. This doesn’t detract from the finish as much as it is a novelty.
As is the case with so many batches that Barrell rolls out with, they manage to take what appears to be the same ingredients and re-arrange them into something that is totally different every time.
The addition of this wheated mashbill is noticeable to me for the way it contributes to the thick and syrupy mouthfeel.
This isn’t something I’d say Barrell has ever really managed to eek out of previous batches. But the wheated bourbon helps to add something that most ryed bourbon mashbills typically can’t achieve: that sweet dessert treat of fatty creams and the pleasing acidity of coffees and chocolates.
But rather than being so one dimensional, the high-rye bourbons and TN distillate layer in rye spices, oaky tannins and even some floral components.
I say it to my friends time and time again, but Barrell truly does have some of the best skills in the biz for finding a way to make these batches different every time.
Does this displace Batch 024 as my favorite of the year? Not quite, but it’s extremely close. I’m a rye lover at heart, but the advice I would give you if you’re standing in an aisle, looking at a Batch 025 is that it’s totally worth it.
It’s very much the opposite of Batch 024 and that’s a good thing. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
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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