Barrell Bourbon commemorated the end to a successful 2017 year by blending together the second annual release of their New Year bottling.
To refresh your memory, the first bottling of their New Year line was also the first time they blended together different distillates from different distilleries.
By 2017, this had now become the new standard of their bourbon line with the launch of Batch 013. But whereas the first New Year bottling used distillates from the big 3 bourbon-producing states, New Year 2018 also added in distillate from Texas and New York.
In fact, Barrell’s site mentions that these barrels came from 7 different distilleries in 5 different states and contained barrels that were 5 to 14 years old.
What I find the most strange is that distilleries in Texas and New York both had 5 year old products to sell in 2017. A little bit of research reveals that in 2017, New York had 30 craft distilleries that were open (compared to 100 by 2020) with a large amount centered in the Hudson Valley region.
And although it’s hard to nail down a producer that some of these barrels came from, I feel confident that it probably came from that region.
Identifying the distillery in Texas where a 5 year old product may have came from is a little easier, because only Firestone & Robertson TX bourbon seemed to have a large enough operation with bourbons aged 3 to 5 years old at that time.
Texas bourbon is hard to age over the 3 to 4 year mark because of the intense summer heat which leads to the possibility of over-oaked bourbon.
But F&R TX bourbon uses a wheated mashbill that is better suited to longer aging than a ryed one, so my money is on the barrels coming from there. With this in mind, Barrell’s New Year 2018 has a very high probability to be a 4 grain bourbon.
With the origin story out of the way, let’s take a look at what really matters, how this tastes. I sampled the neat and from a Glencairn.
Nose: An opening salvo of baked goods hits the nostrils immediately. Baking cinnamon, pie crust, marzipan and cornbread all swirl and mingle around, making you feel like you walked into a bakery.
There’s also some lighter chocolate sauce like you’d find on top of an ice cream sundae. Sweet red fruits are easy to detect, but there’s another scent that I’m detecting that tags along with it… rose petals perhaps?
The scent of seasoned wood envelopes all of the other scents reminding you that this bourbon has some age within.
Palate: The palate starts out with some of those same baked goods flavors like warm cinnamon pinwheels. A rich layer of oak spice also is very upfront, letting you know this bottle has some age on it.
There’s also some rye spice notes that add some herbal greenery to the mix. For sweetness, I’m detecting some wildflower honey with citrus notes of lemon and orange.
There’s even some cherry cough syrup that play well with those rye spice notes. There is also a nice underlying note of Earl Grey Tea that is always a treat to find in a bourbon, because most bourbon have too many sweets or tannins that cover it up.
Finish: The finish starts off with an acidic and deeply roasted flavor much like coffee grounds. There’s also some slightly burnt toffee and baking chocolate that further bring out the deep, rich and drying notes that it has left behind.
What makes this finish odd is that these heavier and darker notes do subside on the finish a little bit to reveal some herbal and floral notes, much like you’d find on a Q yeast strain Four Roses product.
Another note that comes and goes on the note can only be described as “flinty” much like the shale rocks of a creek bed. This is, no doubt, from the Tennessee bourbon I’m sure.
Barrell Bourbon New Year 2018 compiles some very notable flavors from its base mashbills. I like the fact that oak, chocolate, herbal notes, red fruits and rye spices all seem to have came from a different distiller, yet all mingle together like it was from the same one.
It shows that Barrell had not lost the charm from their earlier blends. But the finish is not long or powerful, which is surprising because the nose and palate seemed to indicate that a big finish was coming.
By no means does this make the whole bottle a letdown, but it does keep it just shy of being a truly excellent bourbon.
Still, if you are looking for a bourbon to contain all of the classic flavor profiles of the various whiskies you may like, this could be your ticket.
It’s hard to find a single distiller that routinely puts out a product that’s got all of this and isn’t some unobtainable limited release product. And that’s the whole allure of the New Year line.
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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