The people who bottle Barrel Bourbon purchased bulk whiskey from several distilleries. They are making their name in the industry by doing something pioneered by Evan Kulsveen at Willett back in the 1980s – They are marrying whiskeys from different distilleries to create unique flavor profiles. I liked it when Willett was doing this and I like it now with the Barrel Bourbons. The one big difference between what Evan was doing and Barrel Bourbon is the price of the finished product. Willett had many brands that were inexpensive and even their higher priced products were under $50. Barrel Bourbon bottles seem to run in the $80 or more range. I would recommend that the drinker find a bottle in a bar and try it before purchasing a bottle. I say this because my experience with the batches is that they vary quite a bit in flavor profile. Not everyone has the same tastes and they may not like what is happening in that batch.
The bottle I am tasting is Batch 17, bottle 8,405. This must have been a fairly large batch to have such a high bottle number. The whiskey is a marriage of Bourbons from Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. It was bottled at barrel proof and the youngest whiskey in this batch is 10 years and 4 months old.
Barrel Bourbon Batch 17, Bottle 8,405
Age: 10 Years 4 Months
Nose: Vanilla and hazelnuts with allspice and oak.
Taste: Vanilla and orange zest with some baking spices – cinnamon and allspice and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the spice is reduced but enhances the orange zest and brings out some vanilla. Tasted with a pecan and oak and spice dominate the flavor.
Finish: Surprisingly short with some citrus notes and lots of oak. The cranberry made it even shorter and simply a lingering sweetness in the mouth. The pecan made the finish longer and very dry with oak and cinnamon spice.
I paired this with an Arturo Fuente “Curly Head” cigar. I thought the tobacco richness and cedar spice of the smoke would enhance the Bourbon. I was correct. The smoke enhanced the citrus made the spice a little more peppery. The Bourbon added a little sweetness to the smoke that was either rich vanilla or milk chocolate. It changed as the cigar neared the end. A very good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller