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Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Review

Barrell Whiskey Batch 002 Review

In 2016, Barrell Craft Spirits (known as Barrell Bourbon back then) split off into a new direction with their lineups by introducing barrel-finishes.  Joe Beatrice, Barrell’s founder, has since said that any time a bourbon is finished in a separate barrel, that his company would use the designation of “whiskey” rather than “bourbon.”  But for Whiskey Batch 002, he took literal whiskey (not bourbon) sourced from MGP and finished it in Sherry wine barrels.  The whiskey was undoubtedly left over from his un-finished Whiskey Batch 001 and is a bit of a conundrum.  My opinion is that it is a regular bourbon mashbill aged in used barrels rather than their light whiskey mashbill, which used a 99% corn mashbill. 

Using this relatively neutral base whiskey should really show off just how much influence the sherry barrels have on imparting flavors.  So let’s see how Barrell did.  I sampled this neat and from a Glencairn.

Tasting Notes


Nose: The nose starts off, unsurprisingly, with a nice hit of wine, a sweeter style Lambrusco to be specific.  There’s also a savory note much like sherry cooking wine would have.  The fruit layers are obvious with tart cherries and strawberry jam scents.  I also am detecting the vanilla, musty wood and some clove spice that is undoubtedly coming from the base spirit and probably the charred wood of the barrel.  Obviously it’s not as potent as a bourbon would be in their new charred oak barrels.  Finally, there is a floral-like scent that you can detect in the background to give this even more complexity.

Palate: The palate is reminiscent of sticky Honey Buns at first.  I also start to pick up on some semi-sweet chocolate chips that are probably from the Sherry profile.  I can taste a small amount of rye spice here and there with cinnamon and a little bit of mint, but it is really covered up by the honey and fruit juice sweetness.  Overall, the mouthfeel is thin and there’s not as many deep, tannic traits as a similar Sherry-finished bourbon. 

Finish: The finish has a pleasant taste that I’ve found in a few other barrel-finished whiskies over the years.  It’s like getting a hit of “real” balsamic vinegar, the expensive kind that’s like a syrup and you wouldn’t find in a grocery store.  It’s extremely complex and the best part of this dram so far.  There’s also cherries and dried stone fruits to keep the finish sweet and fruity and help to counteract the black and cayenne pepper notes that are adding some nice heat.  Also, I’m pleased to find the tannins are back with some cedar cigar box and a little bit of dry tobacco leaf. 

Score: 7.5/10


Although I was pleasantly surprised with the notes I picked up on with this whiskey, I felt that it was not as full bodied and flavorful as the other two Sherry-finished, cask strength bourbons that I have on my shelf, one from Belle Meade and the other from Joseph Magnus.  This is to be expected because the base spirit is just whiskey aged in 2nd use barrels after all.  Additionally, if you are able to still find Whiskey Batch 002 on the shelves, it’s not going for higher than $60, while the two bourbons I mentioned are $90. 

Final Thoughts

In the end though, Whiskey Batch 002 delivers an interesting sip, but it doesn’t go far enough to truly stand out.  As Barrell’s finishing game continued to improve, there are many other whiskey batches in their lineup that have raised the bar much higher and deserve your attention before this one.  But it still is fun to see how much Barrell’s finishing game has evolved and it all started with this batch right here.

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Ratings Breakdown

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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