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Barrell Bourbon New Year 2019 Review

Barrell Bourbon New Year 2019 Review

Barrell’s New Year Edition is a yearly release that comes out every December to wrap up the year to showcase their expert blending skill.  Initially, when the first New Year’s edition came out, they had yet to combine various distilleries products together and New Year’s 2017 showcased that this could be a very viable product.  Then in 2018, they began to blend different distilleries bourbon together in their bourbon batches, so New Year lost some of its uniqueness, yet still stood out as a great product and one that, in my opinion, was supposed to be the flagship of the brand’s blending and sourcing skills (the price on these is usually slightly higher than the regular batches of their bourbon released throughout the year).  

2019 New Year Edition

However, in 2019, the New Year Edition could no longer be considered the top dog of Barrell’s bourbon lineup because the new grey-label Barrell Craft Spirits lineup came out with an allocated amount of bottles and a price tag that was 3 times as expensive as the New Year’s Edition.

So what is the selling point of a New Year edition in 2019?  Was it still as significant now that the BCS Lineup existed?  I sat down with a bottle to find out. This was sampled neat and in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes


Barrell Bourbon New Year 2019_3

Nose: There’s a lot going on here. It’s superbly complex and yet shows a plethora of lighter and delicate scents that are still heavily concentrated. I picked out cotton candy, strawberry and rhubarb jelly, marshmallow fluff, vanilla frosting, rose petals and honeydew melon. An odd note that I had scribbled down was how closely the nose was taking me back to a bottle of Belle Meade XO (Cognac) finished bourbon. It is not a finished bourbon, but the wild array of scents does seem like it could have been!

Palate: Once again, a complex and light palate that delivers a payload of flavors. My tongue was all over the place with sweet Gala apples, white grapes, a Mr. Goodbar candy bar, crème brulee and vanilla pudding cups. 

Finish: As I stated in my nosing notes, this bottle had me reminiscing of my bottle of Cognac finished Belle Meade. It’s so light and effervescent and leaves a clean mouthfeel, almost like every drink is cleansing the palate for you. The sweetness begins to morph into what can best be described as a root beer float with vanilla ice cream. There’s also some bittersweet chocolate and nougat that round out a sweet and enjoyable finish. This is one of the most relaxing finishes I’ve ever had and one that welcomes sip after sip with no hint to the hangover that will come the next morning.

Score: 8.2/10


Barrell Bourbon New Year 2019

My senses were going haywire with this bottle. I think one of the reasons why I got so many flavors and scents was the lack of bold, dominating bourbon profiles like tannins, cinnamons and heavy caramels. They simply weren’t there, which allowed so many background flavors to stand out. This is similar to a bottle of High West 14 Year Light Whiskey that I have, where it’s absent of those traits as well.

I don’t know what they’ve done here and I haven’t read many reviews on this bourbon to date (very few exist) but this bottle is a sleeper.  A casual drinker may dismiss this bourbon as simply “good” but to those that really pick apart their bourbons, this may be one of the most rewarding batches of last year. Fantastic.

Scoring Index

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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