Barrell Craft Spirits, which was mostly recognized for their bourbon and whiskey offerings, decided to jump into the realm of rye whiskey in 2017. The market was not exactly flooded with rye whiskey then (and the same applies today) but I’m making an assumption that most Kentucky rye whiskey was considered too expensive to source (see: the average price for Kentucky Owl releases).
So Barrell turned to their old standby, MGP in Indiana, and snatched up some young barrels of their new rye whiskey mashbill (51% rye and 49% malted barley mashbill) as well as sourced the same age rye whiskey from Dickel (of note: this rye whiskey came from MPG in the first place, but is sent to a facility in Illinois to go through the charcoal filtering process that Dickel normally uses). Together, the age statement is only 4.5 years old, so the pricing per bottle was already going to be pretty iffy to some people. This has since led to a wild variation of retail prices from $62 (which is what I paid for this bottle) to $99 (which would make the whiskey inside valued at an insane +$20 per year aged).
But stripping age away from the discussion, this is supposed to be a premium product. So does it actually taste premium? I sat down to find out with my trusty glencairn.
Nose: For a lack of corn in these combined mashbills, there sure is a large dose of fresh cornbread that immediately hits your nostrils. Then more traditional rye whiskey characteristics like pinecombs, orange rinds and light brown sugar begin to develop. There’s also notes of malty cereal grains and a sweet, fragrant cedar wood.
Palate: The palate really starts to identify as a rye whiskey now with notes of sweet mint, cinnamon stick, cloves, anise and nectarines. The palate is very soft and warming with lots of herbal characteristics behind the scene.
Finish: A beautiful, smoldering heat that goes on and on. Lots of peppermint and a menthol cooling sensation stretch on for a long while. Then a pleasantly sweet apricot-ginger jelly that gives the finish a sweet fruit element that really balances it all out nicely.
Although I wouldn’t say that this rye whiskey tasted young, I would say that it was absent of a lot of mature characteristics. Overall it was mostly well integrated; sweet when it needed to be and spicy like you’d expect. It was a great example of what MGP’s newest rye whiskey can bring to the table.
However, there have been much better values when it comes to rye whiskey (and especially, MGP rye whiskey) lately when you look into the competition with the Backbone company’s Bone Snapper Rye, The Senator (6 year old 120 proof) and maybe even Templeton’s Barrel Strength Rye. All come in at or above the age of Barrell Rye Batch 001 with a price that could be at or significantly lower.
Without giving away too much about the upcoming review of Barrell Rye Batch 002, I will say that there is probably a reason why Barrell has not released a Rye Batch 003 in more than a year, and that is the simple fact that good rye is not easy to find and not cheap when you do find it.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary
6 | Very Good | Better than average
7 | Great | Well above average
8 | Excellent | Exceptional
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.